Following the News of the World scandal, I wrote an article about the fate of Murdoch’s media empire which was just published on PublicServiceEurope.com. It is copied out in full below:
The media empire of such might that was seemingly indestructible is now being rocked to its foundations
Yesterday afternoon, the Murdochs agreed that they would appear before a select committee in the Houses of Parliament. The committee is not able to summons them, as such, but the invitation was forceful nevertheless. Initially, they declined the request stating that they would appear before an inquiry – but that they could not appear in front of the select committee. Perhaps, there was a diary clash, eventually there was a U-turn and they changed their minds. The above scenario sums up the whole scandal.
An empire of such might existed and it was seemingly indestructible. Those at the top felt they were above any authority and it is this culture which, to us outsiders at least, appears to have permeated and flourished throughout the empire. We are even hearing from the FBI that it is now reporting 9/11 victims had their phones hacked by News Corporation, adding further violation to the uncomfortable feeling that those at the top encouraged unscrupulous behaviour.
In Britain, the scandal is considered to be so serious, that is has dominated all media coverage and shocked the nation over the last two weeks – precisely, because we have such a strong media culture which sets high investigative standards and which is highly regarded internationally. Was it right that the News of the World closed last Sunday? That is a difficult question, but it seems there was little choice – the brand was deemed to be untrustworthy. How would it ever find advertisers, who would be prepared to appear in their paper and pay to advertise? The brand had been irreparably damaged. The 200 or so staff suffered as a result of the actions of others, who had since moved on. The future of these journalists is unclear, many hope to be redeployed within the empire – but there is no guarantee.
And so their future along with that of the British print media remains uncertain. Murdoch may leave the paper industry all together and focus his efforts on broadcast media. We do not know – but next week when he and his son, James, and former News of the World editor and erstwhile chief executive of News International Rebekah Brooks appear in front of the Commons Culture Media and Sport Select Committee – the world’s eyes will be following their every movement and hanging off their every word, because finally they will be held to account.