Your New Reality
Thursday, July 9, 2009
I already know that this is going to be my favourite story of 2009, no matter how it turns out. More to come, obviously, but for now this taster of what could prove to be the biggest media scandal in years, and one that could fell a media empire :
Rupert Murdoch’s News of the World and Sun will be investigated by the Metropolitan Police in London over claims they obtained personal information through deception.
The Guardian newspaper reported yesterday that Murdoch’s News Corp. paid more than 1 million pounds ($1.6 million) to settle lawsuits claiming journalists used private investigators to illegally obtain information on politicians, sports stars and entertainers. The report throws a spotlight on the news- gathering methods of the competitive U.K. newspaper industry. “Following a court order in 2008 we made available a copy of some information from our investigation into the buying and selling of personal information, to lawyers” involved in a related case, Mick Gorrill, assistant information commissioner, said in the statement. “This included material that showed that 31 journalists working for The News of the World and The Sun had acquired people’s personal information through blagging.”News Corp. Chairman and Chief Executive Officer Rupert Murdoch said yesterday that he wasn’t aware of any payments made to settle legal cases in which the company’s newspaper reporters may have been involved in criminal activity.
“If that had happened, I would know about it,” Murdoch said in an interview at the Allen & Co. media conference in Sun Valley, Idaho.
According to the Guardian, the out-of-court settlements secured secrecy about three cases that may have shown evidence of journalists using private investigators who allegedly hacked into the mobile-phone messages of public figures and gained access to confidential personal data illegally, the report said.The Guardian cited an unidentified person with London’s Metropolitan Police as saying there was evidence that News Group employees used private investigators to hack into thousands of mobile phones.
The above is from Bloomberg, the financial media, who used this headline :
Murdoch Newspapers to Be Investigated Over ‘Blagging’ Claims
That’s a real bad look for Rupert Murdoch, particularly as most of his worldwide media operation is going down the shitter, as paying readers and ad revenue disappear.
Police investigations are never, or rarely, good news for the share price.
Brokers are reading that story in Bloomberg, and are learning that Rupert Murdoch’s UK operation paid out hundred thousand dollars each to a few people that his reporters illegally spied on, and they are calculating how much Murdoch may have to pay out if all the 2000 to 3000 people that Murdoch hacks spied also demand hefty payouts the size of the out of court settlements that have already been paid.
Rupert Murdoch’s media empire could be sued for a $US2-3 billion, or more, if everyone who was spied on decided to go hard for as much money as they could get for having their privacy violated.
On a late night news program in Australia, all this was the last story of the show, but it was mentioned that when Murdoch execs were contacted for a reply to the allegations, all they offered was “No Comment.”
(ARTICLE CONTINUES BELOW)
This is going to be so much fun to watch unfold. Journos love to report on other journos, and the media that they work for. They love to bitch about each other, and if the Murdoch media empire looks to be on the ropes, as it most certainly does already, non-Murdoch journos will go hard, they will be relentless. Unless they, too, engage in such activities to get their headlines.
The Old Media Will Eat Itself.
UPDATE : A great interview here with UK Guardian journalist, Nick Davies, who broke the Murdoch Spying Scandal story (excerpts) :
What we’ve uncovered is systematic activity by Rupert Murdoch’s journalists on the Sunday newspaper here the News of the World, using illegal techniques of one kind or another to uncover information.
One bunch of illegal techniques is to do with using private investigators to do what’s called “blagging” – that’s conning their way into confidential databases, things like your bank statements, credit card statements, itemised telephone bills, tax records, all that kind of stuff.
That’s all illegal and they’ve been doing it. And the second kind of illegal activity is using private investigators to do what’s called “phone hacking”, which just means that they can get into other people’s mobile telephone networks and hear messages which have been left on the target’s mobile phone.
….there was clear evidence of News of the World journalists, including a middle ranking executive, handling the raw material that was coming through from these intercepts.
….my understanding is that that paperwork shows us that the News of the World were hacking the phones of 2,000 or 3,000 public figures of one kind or another.
(the police) didn’t pursue charges against the Murdoch journalists. And I don’t know the answers to these questions, but it raises the worrying possibility – and it’s only a possibility at this stage – that the police at New Scotland Yard didn’t want to get into a fight with powerful Rupert Murdoch….he’s politically very powerful.
….you begin to get this alarming picture of the newspaper groups drifting beyond the reach of the law because they’re just too powerful.
You can hear the whole interview with Nick Davies here. He sounds very excited. He knows how huge this story will become.
This article was posted: Thursday, July 9, 2009 at 2:35 pm