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Murdoch scandal puts journalism on trial Comment on this post ↓
October 29th, 2013 by Warren Swil

Excesses  at tabloid papers

besmirch entire profession

Media mogul Rupert Murdoch has left a permanent stain on journalism. Click image to enlarge.

THE WORST EXCESSES of Rupert Murdoch’s global media empire were in the world spotlight again Monday when two of his most senior former editors in the U.K. went on trial at the Old Bailey.
The two are among dozens charged with all sorts of criminal wrongdoing brought to light after the phone hacking scandal investigated doggedly by The Guardian newspaper.
But the trial’s relevance is global. Murdoch’s empire spans the world – from Adelaide, Australia through Britain to Moscow. In the U.S. his News Corp. owns Fox News and the Wall Street Journal, amongst other media properties.
If his lieutenants could behave so reprehensibly in the freewheeling British tabloids, it raises questions about the entire corporate culture: is it the same everywhere?

DETAILS OF MONDAY’S events could be found at USA Today in the story U.K. phone-hacking trial opens for top Murdoch aides.
“The trial of two former top editors of Rupert Murdoch’s defunct News of the World began Monday with the selection of a jury to hear the complex and high-profile case sparked by a tabloid phone-hacking scandal that has shaken Murdoch’s media empire and tarnished the image of British journalism,” the report says.

The New York Times story excludes itself from the taint left by Murdoch’s cronies. Click image to enlarge.

Indeed, one could add it has tarnished the image of journalism everywhere. The public has every right to believe less of journalists because of the miscreants employed at the highest levels by Murdoch.
“Rebekah Brooks and Andy Coulson — both one-time senior Murdoch aides and associates of British Prime Minister David Cameron — are charged with conspiring to hack the phones of celebrities and other people in the public eye and with making illegal payments to officials for information. They sat side-by-side in the dock at London’s Central Criminal Court along with six other defendants on the first day of a trial that Judge John Saunders said could last up to six months.”
Oh my gosh! Six months of fodder for the tabloid press. A heaven-sent opportunity. The damage to all journalists will endure.
And the timing, in Britain at least, could not be worse.
The press there is resisting attempts at further government regulation, resulting directly from the scandals at Murdoch’s papers.
“This is the first criminal trial stemming from revelations in 2011 of tabloid phone-hacking — a scandal that exposed a murky web of ties binding Britain’s media, political and police establishments,” the USA Today report said.
The revelations led Murdoch to shutter the 168-year-old News of the World, although many would say it is no loss to journalism.

THE CORPORATE ETHOS that led to behavior far beyond ethical bounds into the criminal was described in the recent book “Murdoch’s World” by David Folkenflik, a reporter with National Public Radio.

The NPR report on “Murdoch’s World,” a new book by reporter David Folkenflik. Click image to enlarge.

Appearing on “Morning Edition” last week, the author described his research and the results.
In the program notes to ‘Murdoch’s World': Inside One Of The Last Old Media Empires we find:
“People used to say the sun never sets on the British empire. These days, says NPR media correspondent David Folkenflik, it would be more accurate to say the sun never sets on Rupert Murdoch’s empire.
“In a new book, Murdoch’s World, Folkenflik writes about the Australian newspaper owner whose company now stretches to India, Great Britain and the United States. He describes a powerful media insider who wants to be seen as an outsider.
“Folkenflik explains how newspapers and TV channels run by Murdoch’s News Corp. have taken a strong conservative line, even though Murdoch himself is considered less conservative.”
Do not believe Folkenflik goes easy on the media mogul who has had an outsized influence on British politics since the election of Margaret Thatcher.
An excerpt from the book is enlightening:
“Murdoch had long ago become one of Britain’s most powerful figures and cast an even greater shadow in his native Australia. Through the New York Post, his company enforced a kind of discipline among politicians who hoped to operate in the largest city in the US.
“Through Fox News and the Wall Street Journal, his journalists shaped popular and elite currents within the Republican Party in the [United] States. And with its movie studios and its broadcast, cable, and satellite TV ventures, News Corp had the financial muscle to ride out losses elsewhere in the empire….” Folkenflik writes.
Indeed, the global nature of Murdoch’s influence is unmatched by many … if any.
“The uproar that ensued from the disclosure about the hacking of the voice mail messages of Milly Dowler and others arose from a creeping understanding of the culture of News Corp, based primarily on the qualities of one man.”
That man has left a permanent stain on journalism everywhere.
The reading public has every reason to believe his cronies and henchmen at his own companies and some reporters and editors at other mass media outlets share his philosophy and practice of the craft.
It is not true, of course, but the impression is left that it could be.
In a very real sense the practice of the profession will be on trial during the coming months.
It is most unfortunate that the representatives of a fine craft are such tarnished, unrepentant miscreants as Rupert Murdoch, Rebekah Brooks and Andy Coulson.

 

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