Posts tagged with ‘phone hacking’

How Phone Hacking Indictments are Changing British Journalism →

With the recent indictments of top editors at News Corporation’s News of the World, analysts say the company will eventually pay out over a billion dollars in fines and lawsuits related to the phone hacking scandal.

The effect on British newspapers will be long lasting.

Via the New York Times:

What is becoming clear, media analysts say, is that the push-the-legal-limits newsroom culture that has gone untrammeled for years at the British tabloids and has even found its way into some of the country’s upmarket broadsheets, including Mr. Murdoch’s Times and Sunday Times, could be a casualty of a new culture of caution…

…Already, some who work at British newspapers say, the scandal has had a chilling effect on newsrooms, with editors, reporters and their proprietors less eager to trumpet splashy exposes that might involve, or be perceived to involve, less than ethical standards of news gathering…

One tabloid journalist, who insisted on anonymity because of concern for his job, lamented what he called the end of the “anything goes” era. “Before, it was a case of ‘Don’t tell me how you get it, just get it,’ ” he said. “Now things are looked at differently.”…

…Media critics say the legacy of the “yellow journalism” of turn-of-the-20th-century America has migrated in recent decades to Fleet Street, the traditional home in London of many of Britain’s most powerful papers. Many editors and reporters nurtured in that culture have migrated abroad, some of them to Murdoch-owned papers in America, Australia and elsewhere, taking their no-holds-barred attitudes with them.

Some critics say Mr. Murdoch’s London tabloids, The Sun and The News of the World, and rivals here that compete for the same scoop-hungry readership of millions, have set a grim and degrading standard of journalism that will not be missed.

Interestingly, some media analysts from both the left and right urge caution as England reviews its journalism culture and regulations.

They fear that overaggressive prosecutions on journalism practices will creep their way up the publishing hierarchy, affecting not just the tabloids behind the phone hacking and checkbook journalism (ie, paying sources for scoops) scandals, but also the aggressive — and legitimate — journalism practiced by more staid broadsheets.

New York Times, Phone-Hacking Charges Seen as Chill on British Journalism.

I am not guilty of these charges. I did not authorise, nor was I aware of, phone hacking under my editorship. I am distressed and angry that the [Crown Prosecution Service] have reached this decision when they knew all the facts and were in a position to stop the case at this stage. The charge concerning Milly Dowler is particularly upsetting not only as it is untrue but also because I have spent my journalistic career campaigning for victims of crime. I will vigorously defend these allegations.

Statement from Rebekah Brooks, former News International chief executive, reacting to news that British prosecutors believe they have enough evidence to charge her along with others with criminal conspiracy in the ongoing phone hacking scandal.

The Guardian, Phone hacking: Rebekah Brooks, Andy Coulson and six others face charges [live blog].

Background via the Guardian:

British prosecutors say they have the evidence to prove there was a criminal conspiracy at Rupert Murdoch’s News of the World newspaper involving former senior executives, including Andy Coulson and Rebekah Brooks, to hack the phones of more than 600 people including the murdered schoolgirl Milly Dowler.

Announcing the charging of eight people over the phone-hacking scandal on Tuesday, prosecutors alleged the tabloid’s targets ranged from a victim of the 7 July 2005 terrorist attacks to celebrities and senior Labour politicians.

Coulson left the editorship of the News of the World in 2007 after a journalist and private investigator were convicted of phone hacking, and would go on to be appointed as director of communications for the Conservative party. After the 2010 election Coulson worked in Downing Street for David Cameron, who said he deserved a “second chance”, as one of the prime minister’s most senior advisers, before Coulson resigned as renewed controversy over phone hacking grew.

Prosecutors say other victims of hacking include former senior Labour cabinet ministers such as the former deputy prime minister John Prescott, two former home secretaries, David Blunkett and Charles Clarke, and the former culture secretary Tessa Jowell.

British Panel: Murdoch Not Fit to Run News Corp

Via the New York Times:

In a damning report after months of investigation into the hacking scandal at Rupert Murdoch’s newspapers, a British parliamentary panel concluded on Tuesday that Mr. Murdoch was “not a fit person” to run a huge international company.

The startling conclusion about the world’s most influential media tycoon went much further in criticizing Mr. Murdoch than had been expected from Parliament’s select committee on culture, media and sport, which has conducted several inquiries into press standards, the most recent starting last year.

Via the BBC:

After initially claiming that malpractice was limited to one “rogue” reporter at the News of the World, News International has now settled dozens of civil cases admitting liability for hacking between 2001 and 2006.

More than 6,000 possible victims have been identified and the police have so far made a number of arrests in connection with an investigation reopened in January 2011 - although no charges have yet been brought.

Via the Guardian:

Rupert Murdoch, the document said, “did not take steps to become fully informed about phone hacking” and “turned a blind eye and exhibited wilful blindness to what was going on in his companies and publications”.

The committee concluded that the culture of the company’s newspapers “permeated from the top” and “speaks volumes about the lack of effective corporate governance at News Corporation and News International”.

That prompted the MPs’ report to say: “We conclude, therefore, that Rupert Murdoch is not a fit person to exercise the stewardship of major international company.”

News Scandals are Theatrical →

Via Journalism.co.uk:

The “current crisis” engulfing UK newspaper journalism has inspired a new fast-turnaround theatre production that will launch in Glasgow at the end of April.

The National Theatre of Scotland and the London Review of Books have teamed up to produce Enquirer, which will be performed in an empty floor of an office block in Glasgow’s digital media quarter at Pacific Quay, before moving to London later in the year.

It is based on more than 50 interviews with people working in the newspaper industry - from reporters to printers and newsagents - conducted by journalists Paul Flynn, Deborah Orr and Ruth Wishart.

The transcripts from the interviews will be edited into a script, and the project will be updated throughout the rehearsal and performance period to reflect the current state of events in the phone hacking story and the Leveson inquiry.

News International and its "Compensation Scheme" →

Maybe “scheme” rings better in the English ear but it sounds a bit “off” (read: scamish) to my American one.

Anyhoo, via the New York Times:

News International announced Friday that it had set up what it called a “speedy, cost-effective alternative to litigation” that would allow phone hacking victims to apply for swift out-of-court settlements through a company Web site. The purpose of the program, called the Voicemail Interception Compensation Scheme, is to “process good claims quickly to an award of compensation, not to get bogged down in complex legal arguments and speculative requests for disclosure of documents,” the company says on the site.

People claiming to be victims and wanting compensation are asked to fill out and submit electronic forms detailing their claims.

News International has already set aside more than $30 million to pay phone hacking victims; this move is intended to contain its legal costs as it deals with an increasing number of claims.

The above is buried near the end of an article published Friday about the arrest of a journalist at the Murdoch-owned Sun for making illegal payments to police officers. 

The journalist, Jamie Pyatt, won the 2006 Scoop of the Year prize at the British Press Awards for his reporting on Prince Harry dressing as a Nazi at a costume party.

The decision is perverse in that the actions leading to this criminal charge were carried out with the full knowledge and support of [redacted].

Payment for Glen Mulcaire’s services was arranged by [redacted].

British Parliament most likely will recall James Murdoch to further testify about the phone hacking scandal that’s roiled News Corp/News International.

A primary reason for doing so is this 2007 letter from Clive Goodman, the former royal correspondent for News of the World, to News International questioning his termination.

Goodman was arrested in 2006 and, along with the private investigator Glen Mulcaire, was later convicted for intercepting mobile phone messages. 

At the time News International said Goodman was a lone rogue, and that phone hacking was not a common practice.

The letter is available via the Guardian which writes in a note alongside the redaction:

Goodman identifies staff at the News of the World who he says knew about and encouraged phone-hacking. Their names have been redacted because Operation Weeting, Scotland Yard’s investigation into the practice, is ongoing.

How the WSJ Covers its Boss →

Via Columbia Journalism Review:

Rupert Murdoch’s Wall Street Journal, unsurprisingly, hasn’t done a whole lot of digging on the News Corp. hacking scandal. Or perhaps it has dug, but it’s been so far behind on the story that it hasn’t been able to advance it.

But today it has a scoop on the hacking scandal—one that implicates a non-News Corp. paper, suggests in the lede that bribing cops may not have been unusual, and raises questions about a man who will help determine the professional and, possibly, the legal fate of James Murdoch, Son of Rupert.

What’s the scoop that “suggests that the practice may not have been unusual,” as the WSJ writes in its lede? That twelve years ago, a Sunday Mirror reporter testified in a libel case that he paid a cop £50 (about $82 at current exchange rates) for a story tip.

To put that in context, which the Journal utterly fails to do, recall that Murdoch’s News of the World paid a minimum £100,000 ($163,000) in bribes to police officials, according to The Guardian. That, of course, and perhaps 4,000 cases of phone hacking—crimes, folks—plus the payment of hush-money settlements and other cover-ups involving figures at the highest levels of News Corp., the Journal’s owner.

More Dirty Little Secrets about Tabloid Journalism →

selloutsamizdat:

The AP has a nice story about many other standard, shameful practices at News of the World. It’s a blood-in-the-water kind of moment for the mainstream press. But the mainstream press should not throw stones. This kind of stuff happens everywhere, including at the AP. I know. I used to work there.

News of the World phone hacking whistleblower found dead →

Via the Guardian:

Sean Hoare, the former News of the World showbiz reporter who was the first named journalist to allege Andy Coulson was aware of phone hacking by his staff, has been found dead, the Guardian has learned.

Hoare, who worked on the Sun and the News of the World with Coulson before being dismissed for drink and drugs problems, is said to have been found dead at his Watford home.

Hertfordshire police would not confirm his identity, but the force said in a statement: “At 10.40am today [Monday 18 July] police were called to Langley Road, Watford, following the concerns for welfare of a man who lives at an address on the street. Upon police and ambulance arrival at a property, the body of a man was found. The man was pronounced dead at the scene shortly after.

"The death is currently being treated as unexplained, but not thought to be suspicious. Police investigations into this incident are ongoing.”

We are sorry.

The News of the World was in the business of holding others to account. It failed when it came to itself.

We are sorry for the serious wrongdoing that occurred.

We are deeply sorry for the hurt suffered by the individuals affected.

We regret not acting faster to sort things out.

I realise that simply apologising is not enough.

Our business was founded on the idea that a free and open press should be a positive force in society. We need to live up to this.

In the coming days, as we take further concrete steps to resolve these issues and make amends for the damage they have caused, you will hear more from us.

Sincerely,

Rupert Murdoch

— Rupert Murdoch issues an apology via a British newspaper ad.

There are plenty of examples of reporters going to extreme lengths to satisfy exacting news desks without quite veering into obvious criminality. There was the tabloid freelancer who hid in a church organ for several days, defecating in a plastic bag, to get pictures of Madonna’s baby’s christening; there was the time Rebekah Brooks, then a lowly reporter, disguised herself as a cleaner to infiltrate the newsroom of a sister publication and nab a copy of their scoop.

But the great tapestry of tabloid infamy has always been viewed as an entertaining appendage to public life, mischievous rather than malicious. The UK press looks across the Atlantic and—with, to my British sensibility, some justification—views a moribund print culture that spends more time pontificating about morals than getting stories and making them interesting to readers. As the former Times editor and Guardian columnist Simon Jenkins once put it, “I was trained as a reptile lurking in the gutter whose sole job was ‘to get the bloody story.’” Not for nothing does the trophy for the country’s most prestigious investigative journalism award, the Bevins Prize, show a determined rat nosing up a drainpipe.

In the May/June issue of the Columbia Journalism Review, Archie Bland wrote about the News of the World phone-hacking scandal and why there was relative silence in the English media about it over the past few years. 

In doing so, he explores the country’s cutthroat media culture and suggests that most ignored the issue because most were most likely doing the same.

Archie Bland, Columbia Journalism Review. Anybody There? Why the UK’s phone-hacking scandal met media silence.

Police Suspect News International Deleting Millions of Emails →

Via the Guardian:

Police are investigating evidence that a News International executive may have deleted millions of emails from an internal archive, in an apparent attempt to obstruct Scotland Yard’s inquiry into the phone-hacking scandal.

The archive is believed to have reached back to January 2005 revealing daily contact between News of the World editors, reporters and outsiders, including private investigators. The messages are potentially highly valuable both for the police and for the numerous public figures who are suing News International.

According to legal sources close to the police inquiry, a senior executive is believed to have deleted ‘massive quantities’ of the archive on two separate occasions, leaving only a small fraction to be disclosed. One of the alleged deletions is said to have been made at the end of January this year, just as Scotland Yard was launching Operation Weeting, its new inquiry into the affair.

The allegation directly contradicts repeated claims from News International that it is co-operating fully with police in order to expose its history of illegal news-gathering. It is likely to be seen as evidence that the company could not pass a ‘fit and proper person’ test for its proposed purchase of BSkyB.

Takeaway: Things can always get worse.

No, I’m not, frankly. It doesn’t do the newspaper industry any good; it doesn’t do the credibility of journalism any good.

New York Daily News publisher MORT ZUCKERMAN, when asked on CNBC if he’s reacting to competitor Rupert Murdoch shutting down the News Of The World.

From a business POV, Zuckerman added that the newspaper industry in the U.S. was “challenged” in terms of profitability, and added that the term “newspaper business” was an “oxymoron.”

(CNBC via MediaBistro)

(Source: inothernews)

Amid Scandal, News Corp Shutters News of the World →

James Murdoch, Deputy Chief Operating Officer, News Corporation, and Chairman, News International in an announcement to staff today.

Via Adweek:

You do not need to be told that The News of the World is 168 years old. That it is read by more people than any other English language newspaper. That it has enjoyed support from Britain’s largest advertisers. And that it has a proud history of fighting crime, exposing wrong-doing and regularly setting the news agenda for the nation…

The good things the News of the World does, however, have been sullied by behaviour that was wrong. Indeed, if recent allegations are true, it was inhuman and has no place in our Company.

The News of the World is in the business of holding others to account. But it failed when it came to itself…

Having consulted senior colleagues, I have decided that we must take further decisive action with respect to the paper.

This Sunday will be the last issue of the News of the World.