Friday, November 4, 2011

Cash is King..News of the World 1843-2011

With 7,5 million readers, the newspaper "News of the World"  was known for writing about celebrity-based scoops. At one point it was one of the biggest selling English language newspapers in the world. That is how the competency goal "Analyze and assess the role of some English-language media in international society" can be related to News of the World. It was a national newspaper, published in the United Kingdom.

In 2011, the 7th of July, the newspaper printed its final edition, with the headline "Thank You and Goodbye". The reason for this headline was that their secret had been revealed. For nearly a decade, the newspaper had gained information and juicy stories illegally. To outdo their rival newspapers and increase sales, they had hired private investigators to hack mobile phones owned by people considered as interesting subjects for the paper.

Rupert Murdoch

The owner of the newspaper was Rupert Murdoch, and this is how he was described by an editor he used to work with: "All Rupert cares about is getting the story, getting it first, and getting it right. He doesn't want to know how the sausage is made." In other words, Murdoch was fully aware of what was going on, but decided to ignore most parts of it. He was very manipulating and demanding, creating internal rivalries within the paper. In one case the rivalry  was so serious that the features desk and the news desk were just as likely to hack one another's phones, as if they were the phones of the subject of some story.

But how did the police find out the newspaper was committing such a crime? A police investigation was instigated in 2011 when it was revealed that the newspaper had hacked into Milly Dowler's phone. She went missing in 2002. Investigators and reporters from the paper had deleted messages from her phone, to make room for more. This had misled the Milly Dowler’s family and friends into believing she was still alive, and the deleted messages were also potential evidence for the police.

Although this was the first major revelation in the scandal, it turned out that Milly Dowler's phone was not the only one they hacked. In November 2005, the paper wrote a story about how Prince William was suffering from a knee injury, something that was not known by many people, apart from his family and doctor. This lead to suspicion in the Buckingham Palace, and they were soon convinced that the prince's voicemail has been hacked.

After a lot of investigation, the police had found that over 7000 phones were hacked by News of the World, these phones belonging to crime victims, celebrities, sport stars and politicians. Hugh Grant and Sienna Miller being two of the celebrities who were hacked. Also, some families of those who died in the terrorist attacks in London, had their private voice mails hacked.

The newspaper broke all media ethics, and invaded other peoples’ private life. This is a serious violation of the law, and three journalists were arrested. It is shocking that a newspaper will actually go this far, just for the money. At the end of the day, that is what it’s all about. Cash is king.

 "I realized the extent to which phone-hacking paranoia had spread when my lunch date sat down, turned off his cell phone, removed the battery and laid the dismantled device before him on the table, like a small but dangerous animal he had temporarily stunned". 

This is what I read in an English magazine published last month, and it shows how some people in the UK where really affected and frightened by the hacking.

After reading several different websites, I've understood that this whole case was pretty complex, as there are years and numbers that aren't the same all places. A countless number of allegations have been put forward, but not yet confirmed. Many different people were involved, and questions about whether everyone working in the paper knew, are being raised.  It has obviously been a challenging and difficult job for the police to investigate the hacking, but luckily News of the World was stopped. 


1 comment:

  1. Great article about the scandal with this particular newspaper. I agree, this madness has luckily been stopped. But who know what is going on in other places? I suspect a lot of news we read about has been investigated in creative ways.