Thursday, July 07, 2011

Lancing the boil?

So, the Murdochs have decided that the solution to the News of the World phone hacking horror is to close the newspaper. So, lots of people are going to lose their jobs while the people responsible for the culture at the paper make the announcement in sackcloth and ashes, assuming that sweeping away the title gets rid of the problem.

Astonishingly, the Government thinks it's the right decision. Hopefully, it won't dissuade the government from holding the enquiries that David Cameron promised yesterday.

What we've seen today is the combined effect of advertisers, figures from public life and even outraged readers attacking Murdoch's bottom line. His response is to remove the running sore. But it doesn't do anything to deal with the infection at the heart of this company. The boil is still waiting to be lanced.

At the very least all those who have had editorial control of the paper in the last decade should be sacked - whatever job they currently hold - and investigated by the police as part of their wide-ranging enquiry. After all, it is they, not the News of the World's current staff, who bear responsibility for dragging the paper into the sewer and beyond.

And surely no one can now think Murdoch is fit and proper person to run yet more of Britain's media. The company's desire to control all of BSkyB must be thwarted. It's turnover makes that of the News of the World look like petty cash. Over to you Jeremy Hunt; try to do the right thing; seek help if you're not sure what that is.


Jonathan said...

Simon, looks like they already had plans for the Sun to go 7 days a week. See this from last month:

Jonathan said...

sorry, try this:

simon said...

Yeah; they bought the sunonsunday domain name a couple of days ago. But he won't need the staff to run a seven day a week paper that he needed to run two papers.

So 200 journalists lose their jobs, a cut price Sunday is launched to fill the gap, Murdoch makes some cash...

It's enough to make you believe in sin

Charles said...

I think I believe in sin already Simon ;)
What NOTW did is disgusting & immoral
If what is alleged is true the people involved should go to prison

None of this should blind us to the fact that like many other papers NOTW did some harm and did some good.It has run some great campaigns

Believe it or not The Murdoch's have also done some good -On Newsnight last night the editor of the Guardian (who have done a great job over phone hacking)admitted that they saved the newspaper industry a few decades ago, as well as several great individual titles.

My understanding which is incomplete is that under an Act passed by the last Government it is OFCOM who decide the fit and proper person test not Jeremy Hunt

I have 2 other concerns one is that important though this is, I am not sure that it is the most important story around at the moment (famine in Africa,the story that broke yesterday of another vulnerable adult being murdered for his benefits having been kept in slavery after coming out of care and being failed by social services (which seem to be as systemic as phone hacking at NOTW)and the chaos that might be about to ensue in Southern Sudan would all be further up my list.

The other is that I note that the BBC is not impartial in this, and it would be good just once or twice to hear them remind viewers that News International are a major competitor to the BBC

Having said all that I am pleased there is to be a public enquiry and hope the truth will out and the right conclusions drawn
What I do not want is an end to freedom of the press and an end to competition for the BBC

Apologies for the length of the post !!!

simon said...

Lots of good thoughts in your post, Charles; thanks for taking the time..

I agree that Murdoch has done much to save the press in the UK - his taking on the Times and (though I think he could have done it differently) his taking of the unions over print room practice. Without him, the press would not have computerised in time to be saved from oblivion.

I also agree that there are other important stories out there. But one reason why there is such focus on the Murdoch press is that he has done a great amount to trivialise our press, to make it focus on some things at the expense of others - for instance celebrity over foreign affairs. The Murdoch press is also responsible for painting the public sector as bad and the private sector as good - something we see played out now in terms of the present government's spending priorities.

My understanding is that both Jeremy Hunt and Ofcom have a role in deciding the future of the News Corp bid for BSkyB. Hunt on the Broadcasting Act criteria of plurality in media and fcom in whether a given organisation is a fit and proper one to run a media organisation.

I'm all for competition. I think the BBC is better for it.