‘News of the World’ No More

Amidst the phone hacking scandal that’s been featured in numerous outlets, the British tabloid, News of the World, is surprisingly being shuttered by its well-known owner, Rupert Murdoch.

While I never feel comfortable with the idea that many hard-working individuals who were ignorant of any wrongdoing in their workplace will be bereft of a job, man, breaking into the phone of dead teenager and tampering with evidence in a murder investigation just to get a story is just beyond the pale! Add to that celebrities like Sienna Miller who successfully sued the paper before and a list of other victims like the families of deceased soldiers, it’s no wonder that the public, politicians and other news outlets have seen fit to excoriate the publication.

And with the tree being so poisoned, could it bear clean fruit ever again? Yes, you could have removed Rebekah Brooks, the chief executive of News International and former editor of News of the World, but that might not be enough to change public perception.  While many will lay blame on her despite her assertion that she herself was in the dark, the fact that the police are investigating 4,000 other names who may have been hacked is shocking enough to get businesses to start pulling their advertising and enough for many to conclude that the problem is not an isolated issue.  In fact, to quote an FT.com, the idea that the parent company (and Rebekah Brooks) was unaware of the problem does “beggar belief“.

Add to the numbers the face of a Milly Dowler, the murder victim whose phone was hacked, and a scapegoat is unlikely to quell the public outrage. However, it may have been better to first root out the personnel that were either directly responsible or responsible for promoting an environment of deceitful tactics, before nuking the place.

The one good that should come out of this is a lesson in journalistic ethics that should be held up as much as the plagiarism scandals of Stephen Glass or Jayson Blair.

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