Friday, July 08, 2011

Fleet Street Follies

Just when you thought the biggest challenge facing the newspaper industry was whether/ how to migrate online, we're shown once again not to take the most basic assumptions about a free press for granted (like assuming certain newspapers understand certain basic standards of human decency). The extraordinary events taking place in the UK right now are simply spectacular in every way: the revolting editorial decisions being revealed (the NYTimes has a handy graphic to help you make sense of it all), the swiftness of the end of Britain's best-selling Sunday newspaper, and the widespread expectation that this is just the beginning of the revelations. I can only imagine how giddy the media reporters at the non-Murdoch papers must feel each morning when they get up.

And it's not just the media reporters. Now that the scandal that brought down the 168-year-old News of the World has reached up into the very highest office of the government, the non-Murdoch political journalists are probably feeling pretty frisky as well.

And as dramatic as the decision to close the paper was (presumably to help prevent the investigations from spreading into Murdoch's more profitable media outlets), it seems to have only lowered public opinion of the mogul:
The News Corporation’s decision to shut down the British tabloid The News of the World on Thursday did little to silence the growing uproar over revelations that the newspaper had hacked into the voice mails of private citizens.

In fact, it may have only fueled the outrage.

An outpouring of suspicion and condemnation came from all directions on Thursday, and was directed chiefly at the News Corporation’s chairman, Rupert Murdoch, a figure as powerful as he is polarizing.

The British media establishment, Facebook and Twitter users and even Mr. Murdoch’s own employees questioned his move. Some said it was a ploy to salvage government approval of the News Corporation’s potentially lucrative controlling stake in the satellite company British Sky Broadcasting, or BSkyB.
Indeed, Murdoch's bid to buy BSkyB now looks to face serious delays and possibly insurmountable hurdles:

BBC business editor Robert Peston understands that Ofcom [the UK media regulator] will not launch an inquiry immediately.

"It will want to allow the police to continue their investigation for a while longer, before making its own assessment," he said.

Ofcom is deeply concerned by recent revelations about the NoW, he added.

"[Ofcom] is likely to make a statement later today, I am told, which will make it clear that it regards evidence that the News of the World's newsroom was out of control for many years as relevant to a judgement on whether News Corporation would be a fit-and-proper owner of BSkyB," our correspondent said.
Of course no one expects any of this to distract Murdoch from his particularly sleazy brand of Sunday yellow journalism for long. Word is there are already plans to have his other UK rag, The Sun, begin publishing on Sundays to fill in the gap left by the News of the World. In fact, someone just purchased the URL
Domain name:


Registrant type:
UK Individual

Registrant type:
UK Individual

Registrant's address:
The registrant is a non-trading individual who has opted to have their
address omitted from the WHOIS service.

Webfusion Ltd t/a 123-reg [Tag = 123-REG]

Relevant dates:
Registered on: 05-Jul-2011
Renewal date: 05-Jul-2013
Last updated: 07-Jul-2011

Of course, it could be a clever cybersquatter, but watch that space.

Labels: politics, traditional media


Anonymous Mery Lynn said...

I'm also curious about the alleged tapping of 9/11 victims' phones. What "works" in England was probably exported here. I must say I have a strong case of Schadenfreude.

7/11/2011 01:54:00 PM  
Anonymous jane harris said...

very interesting take, ed; LOVE THE TITLE esp.!!

7/11/2011 05:33:00 PM  
Blogger Meltemi. said...

Just who hates Mr Murdoch this much? Remember those same shady investigative hack journalists have also uncovered the odd corrupt politician...

7/13/2011 09:42:00 AM  
Blogger Meltemi. said...

Just who hates Mr Murdoch this much? Remember those same hack journalists have revealed corrupt politicians too...

7/13/2011 09:45:00 AM  

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