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News Of The World Affair

  • July 8th, 2011
  • Posted by 7thmin

news-of-world-logo.jpgrupert-murdoch.jpgOPINION: New problems have arisen for journalists over The News of the World in England.

PROBING THE MEDIA

The British Prime Minister, David Cameron (picture), himself connected with the scandal over that newspaper, through his contentious employment of a former editor, plans a general investigation of the press. david-cameron-anunewsnet.jpg
news-world-1.jpgHe told a media conference he would order an inquiry into the News of the World affair, but also hoped to make an early start on an inquiry into the press generally.

news-world-2.jpg“This second inquiry should look at the culture, the practices and the ethics of the British press.

“In particular, they should look at how our newspapers are regulated and make recommendations for the future”, he said.

ACCUSATIONS AND KEY POINTS

The British press generally, unpleasant as some of them are, have hardly served up the kind of fare, useful at this time to justify investigating The News of the World.

Some of the accusations and key points in a drawn-out story:-

•    Journalists on the paper teamed up with IT types who hacked into people’s voice mail; messages belonging to missing and murdered children, soldiers killed at war, victims of terrorist attacks, and a bevy of celebrities like the actor Hugh Grant.

•    Police are said to have been in the pay of News of the World journalists.

•    An earlier investigation resulted in the gaoling of one journalist but did not spread further.

•    Police interviewed Andy Coulson, former News of the World editor, about the hacking allegations, while he was employed as David Cameron’s Prime Ministerial media director.  He resigned at the beginning of this year.

•    Other cases of hacking are expected to come to light.

POLITICAL HEAT

news-world-3.jpgThis has generated political heat for Mr Cameron.

news-world-4.jpg“Putting it right for the prime minister means starting by admitting the appalling error of judgment he made in hiring Andy Coulson, apologising for bringing him in to the centre of the government machine, coming clean about what conversations he had with Andy Coulson, before and after his appointment, about phone hacking,” said Ed Miliband, the Labour Party Opposition Leader.

Mr Cameron has his own questions:

“Why did the first police investigation fail so abysmally? What exactly was going on at the News of the World?”

These are matters to do with actual or possible crime.

News media are the first to agree they have to obey the same laws as everybody else; it can actually help at times, to demand the same access to information as any other citizens, no more – but definitely no less.

It may serve the public interest well to have a Judge pry into the affairs of a large business organisation, the News of the World, where crimes have been going on.

However the Prime Minister has added: “ … and what was going on at other newspapers?”

WARNING LIGHT FOR FREEDOM

warning-lights-resize.jpgWarning light time.

Why go after media generally?

Is there crime?

What kind of inquiry?

Media controls next?

What media controls?

History of mass media shows the United Kingdom missed out on getting a full system of commercial television networks, that would have soaked up the “popular” market.

That left the field open  to The News of the World and the other “tabloids”.

The public may have flocked to pay their pence, advertisers lining up to follow them. The journalists would perform stunning acts, demonstrating ingenuity and creative talent, an actual penetrating intellectual grasp of the meanings or significance of events, shrewd understanding of  their publics, and a doughty faith in key facts. As well they might demonstrate a culture of crassness and rapacity, exploitation, blatant exaggeration or distortion of information, arrogance, no notion of privacy, no real humanity.

PUTTING THROUGH THE CLEANERS

So as institutions they have become unpopular and putting the cleaners through them may go down well within the political and celebrity community, and beyond.

What about media that aren’t like that?

British broadsheets, for one thing, amid their struggles to survive against the depredations of Internet classifieds, may get too opinionated, but they act as an honest journal of record.

What about freedom of the press?

For many in journalism, the existence of the UK tabloids is like having a bogan element in the family; that uneasy feeling about genetic material you have to share.

Still, if the “other newspapers” begin to carry criticism of Prime Minister Cameron over his designs on their future, the “bath” he gets may be a good thing for democratic government.

SHUTTING DOWN NEWS OF THE WORLD

Rupert Murdoch, proprietor of the News of the World (main picture, above), says he will shut it down after this weekend.

The son, James Murdoch, told an interviewer they disapproved of shysters hacking information out of innocents; no senior managers of the firm have been blamed or fired in this month’s furore.

The newspaper, though operated in one form or another since the 1840s, and with the highest Sunday circulation, some 2.7-million, as a modern business is prone to be sold, re-branded, merged and consolidated with others, or restructured.

Predictions abound that the weekly will be re-branded as a Sunday edition of the successful Murdoch daily, The Sun.

The company has encountered resistance to its efforts to expand its satellite television operations, by buying up all of B-Sky-B.

Shedding the opprobrium of The News of the World at this time, if achievable, might help to keep that corporate project alive.

Reference

Guardian, Manchester, “News of the World circulation data: who read it and how many bought it?”, 8.7.11.
http://www.guardian.co.uk/news/datablog/2011/jul/08/news-of-the-world-circulation-data, (8.7.11).

Pictures wiikipedia, untitledhero, thisislondon, texansforpeace, guardian  

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