News Corp’s tipping point?

Posted on July 26, 2011 by

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news of the world

Many journalists have referred to the phone-hacking investigation in the UK as the ‘tipping point’ for News Corp, the world’s largest media conglomerate.  You might think ‘well what does this mean exactly’ – collapse of the Fox News network and other new companies owned by News Corp?  Hardly likely, rather it seems that it may be a tipping point for how people investigate the influence of corporate media on government.  Both politicians and journalists have suggested that there was a cover-up by the Met police and News International.  The Met’s police chief, who appointed former deputy editor of News of the World as an advisor, resigned earlier this month.  David Ignatius from the Washington Post describes the ‘sickening new fact’ that led to the investigation into the phone-hacking scandal:

Yet British politicians didn’t take action until a sickening new fact was added to the mix: The hacking victims had included a 13-year-old murder victim named Milly Dowler.

This was the tipping point. It was like the collapse of a bridge that had stood solid as millions of vehicles rumbled across but that ruptured with the addition of one more car. Just so, the tale of Milly Dowler produced a turn in public opinion, a galvanizing jolt to the politicians and a catastrophic event for Murdoch.  Washington Post

In response to the trials some bloggers have openly stated that they would like to see News Corp. fail.  This is quite interesting and worth noting as it seems that the power of News Corp. is actually being put into question, rather than the actions (phone hacking) themselves.  Corporate media of course are relied upon heavily by government and the general public.  In the US six companies own the majority of commercial media, including television and film.  This is of course a well-known fact, there is no secrecy here, but few have questioned the authority of this power on its own terms.  The fact that the UK government has done so gives this event historical significance, especially with the fall of News of the World.

Phone hacking seems to have become the norm for many journalists working under pressure just to dish out a story, but in all honesty does it really justify the obsessive targeting of nearly anyone considered ‘news worthy’? This from the Guardian:

A News International insider said that claims an estimated 4,000 phones may have been targeted could tell only part of the story. There are suggestions that the paper was interested in as many as 80,000 phone numbers over the past decade. How many were hacked or bugged is a subject for the police investigation, but by the mid-1990s it appears hacking had become endemic and no one was considered out of bounds. From the families of 7/7 victims to Milly Dowler, all were targets. John Cooper, a barrister who represents the families of soldiers killed in the Nimrod disaster in Afghanistan and the RAF Hercules explosion in Iraq, as well as those who died at Deepcut barracks, confirmed on Saturday night that his clients were concerned that they may have been the victims of telephone hacking.

Also, to find out what media conglomerates own what check out this guide from the Columbia Journalism Review: http://www.cjr.org/resources/?c=newscorp