UPDATE 7/19: Rupert and James Murdoch’s testimony in front of the British Parliament was suspended after a man got within 18 inches of Murdoch with a cream-filled pie. Murdoch’s wife, Wendi, jumped to her husband’s aid and punched the assailant. DANG Wendi – you go MAMA!
UPDATE 7/18: News of the World phone hacking whistle blower found dead.
UPDATE 7/17: Murdoch’s former chief executive of News International, Rebekah Brooks, was arrested over the weekend.
Originally posted 7/13: All the news that’s fit to print, huh? Media mogul Rupert Murdoch’s News Of The World tabloid has been shuttered after 168 years. The first brick in his media empire, News Corp., has crumbled. Why? Not for the same reason other newspapers are going out of business – it’s not a lack of money. They were making plenty of money off of their sensational headlines and stories. But, it seems that the pressure to produce salacious stories pushed the company over line. The organization allegedly had a “stable” of private detectives hack into the cell phones of the royal family, celebrities and terror and murder victims to acquire juicy information. The newspaper has even been accused of interfering with the murder case of a 13 year old, Milly Dowler, by deleting messages left on her phone to make room for new messages. The police and family thought Milly was still alive because the messages were being removed.
The revelations have led to mass resignations and arrests that are rocking the news and political worlds. Rupert Murdoch has withdrawn his bid to buy Britain’s largest media outlet, BSKYB, and investigations are being launched into his American assets (FOX News, The Wall Street Journal, New York Post and New York Sun?!) due to allegations the organization hacked into 9-11 victims’ cell phones.
Across the pond, British Prime Minister, David Cameron, is launching an investigation into the paper’s newsgathering tactics. This, after his former Press Secretary was arrested in conjunction with the scandal, demonstrating how pervasive and influential Murdoch’s media source was in Britain. Oopsy?!
MOMism: “Consider the source.” Moms know that kids can be duped by gossip and rumor. We teach them that whatever is being “reported” to or about them, could have a weird ulterior motive behind it. Journalists are supposed to adhere to a code of ethics and conduct that we assume (newsflash: we shouldn’t) is understood by adults, but the pressure to get the dirt or spin the gossip has turned into big business and the media is constantly pushing the envelope to one up each other.
When we rely on tabloids and sensationalistic journalism to feed our need for information, we risk that the source may be questionable. The sources of the source may be compromised, as well. That’s why we need to make sure that this sort of hack journalism is shut down, so that it’s tactics cannot infect or affect the good journalism we rely on to get reliable, ethical information to form our own opinions. Public outrage is the most persuasive tool in preventing this bad behavior – like moms, we can put a stop to it by not reinforcing it. In this case, don’t buy or watch the smut, no matter how enticing it may be. Otherwise, we are part of the problem and will only encourage more trash journalism.
MAMAS – if we want a free press, we need to demand it be responsible, otherwise, the line between sensationalism and journalism blur and we get caught up in the spin instead of the straight scoop. What are your opinions?
P.S., Some people can make us laugh, even at our own expense. For a little levity, click here and watch Jon Stewart’s segment on the News of the World.