UPDATED: At the end
Don’t fret. We’ll keep writing about Murdoch, but more as a symptom of a deeper concern rather than as the scandal de jour.
We begin with an Amy Goodman Democracy Now! interview with former Wall Street Journal media reporter Sarah Ellison, author of War at the Wall Street Journal: Inside the Struggle to Control an American Business Empire — a tome on the impact of Murdoch’s ownership on American business’s paper of record.
A transcript of the interview is posted here.
Ellison opens with a discussion of the scandal, followed by a lock at Murdoch’s control of the Journal:
More coverage of the Journal’s hacking
No, not phone hacking, but hack journalism, as reported by Bloomberg’s Max Abelson:
While the widening News Corp. (NWSA) phone- hacking scandal sent Rupert Murdoch and son James in front of a U.K. parliamentary committee and unseated senior officials at the company and Metropolitan Police, the media empire found an aggressive defender in the Wall Street Journal’s opinion pages.
Among at least seven opinion pieces published so far this week supporting the newspaper’s owner were three signed by editorial board members. A fourth, a 1,000-word lead editorial, said media organizations commonly “pay sources for information” and “skew their coverage” to influence public affairs. The piece, titled “News and Its Critics,” added that it was “up to British authorities to enforce their laws.”
“This is the first great test of the Wall Street Journal under Murdoch’s ownership,” said Sarah Ellison, whose book “War at the Wall Street Journal” chronicled News Corp.’s 2007 acquisition of Dow Jones & Co. for $5.2 billion from the family that had controlled it for 105 years.
“I think this establishes the Journal as a mouthpiece for News Corp., unfortunately,” Ellison said.
The editorial described the “righteous hindsight” and “thick” Schadenfreude of groups such as British Broadcasting Corp., the Guardian newspaper and investigative website ProPublica. “We also trust that readers can see through the commercial and ideological motives of our competitor-critics,” it said.
Byron Calame, who joined the Wall Street Journal in September 1965 and was deputy managing editor when he retired from the newspaper in 2004, said it “remains to be seen” if the editorial’s voice resonates with the newspaper’s readers. While it was “well-crafted,” he said, “the defensive tone alone was a disappointment.”
And the reaction from Continental Europe
The scandal is making waves on the mainland, too, with business and banking leaders taking a second look at their holdings in Murdoch’s media empire.
Consider this from the Danish paper Politiken.dk:
Danish enterprises have invested millions in Rupert Murdoch’s News Corporation, but several appear now to be reconsidering their positions following the News of the World scandal that has gripped Britain.
Both Danske Bank and FOA’s pension fund Pensam have sizeable funds invested in News Corporation.
“Corruption, blackmail and bribery are against our ethical guidelines. I can say that if just half of what has come out about the company is true, this is not a company we are interested in investing in in the future,” says FOA Chairman and Pensam Deputy Chairman Dennis Kristensen.
Pensam is to investigate whether the company’s ethical guidelines have been infringed upon. Kristensen says that the survey is to make sure that customers can receive their pensions with a good conscience, adding that the fact that the News of the World was only a small part of News Corporation makes no difference.
“Morality and ethics cannot be determined by size. You either do things decently, or you don’t do them. And anyway, the News of the World was a very big company,” Kristensen says, adding that News Corporation investments may become a bad investment as its market value has dropped by more than DKK 41 billion since June 5.
As a matter of principle, Danske Bank declines to comment on its investments.
“That is something we never do, because we risk people speculating against it. But in general I can say that we follow the news and see whether the companies we invest in fulfill our ethical programme for investments,” says Danske Bank Media Spokesman Kenni Leth.
And then there’s this headline from Der Spiegel on a roundup story about German financial media reaction to the unfolding debacle:
‘News Corp Can Only Survive if Murdoch Goes’
And then there’s this headline on a story from JTA, “The Global News Service of the Jewish People”:
Amid Murdoch scandal, Israel backers worry about muting of pro-Israel media voice
And for the best up-to-the minute coverage of Murdochgate, pay frequent visits to Media Fix, the blog at The Nation run by veteran media watcher and former editor of the print journalist’s go-to magazine, Editor & Publisher.
UPDATE: Finally, from the blog of Sysomos, a company specializing in analysis of social media, an excerpt of a chart-filled post by Sheldon Levine of numbers that give an indication of the scandal’s impact on the world of blogs, Tweets, and such:
Whether you love or hate Rupert Murdoch, you just can’t avoid hearing about him these days. With a recent scandal around Murdoch’s news divisions he has been one of the most talked about people in media over the past few weeks. First, some of the reporters on his staff were found to be hacking into the phones of 9/11 victims and British troops. Then advertisers started to pull out of Murdoch’s News of the World publication, forcing him to shut the tabloid down earlier this month. Murdoch was then urged to pull out a bid to buy a controlling share of BSkyB, a satellite broadcaster. Now he is currently answering questions from British parliament about the illigal [sic] activities and people all around the world are talking about it since Murdoch’s company, News Corp, has a presence in many countries around the globe.
Using MAP, our social media monitoring and analytics platform, I took a look at what the world was saying about Murdoch through social media channels. A look at mentions for just his name since the beginning of July shows 67,875 blog posts, 127,342 online news articles, 57,000 forum posts and 864,114 tweets about Murdoch.