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The Murdoch Monster gets a kick in the balls

It would be remiss of me if i didn't join in on the NotW commentary that has been filling my Reader feed since yesterdays announcement that the Sunday paper is to close. It is a complex story, and it has taken me quite a while to really understand all of the aspects of it. In this article i will attempt to set out the time-line of events, and discuss how it presents the media with a great opportunity. Please bare with me, i'm not in the best of health so can't guarantee that i will be as perfect as i usually am :p

Clive Goodman
The whole thing started back in 2006 with the arrest of Clive Goodman, the NotW's Royal editor, and Glen Mulcaire, a private investigator, for hacking the phones of members of the Royal Family. Both men were charged, tried, and jailed. Within hours of Goodman being jailed, Andy Coulson announced his resignation as the Editor of the News of the World. It became clear that Coulson had given in his notice two weeks prior to the jailing of Goodman, and he had done so as he felt it was time for him "to take ultimate responsibility for the events around the Clive Goodman case". 5 years later, in 2011, he was to be arrested for his role in the phone hacking, and for authorising tens of thousands of pounds to be paid to police officers.

Glenn Mulcaire
In 2009 The Guardian reported that the phone hacking was not confined to Goodman, Mulcaire and the Royal Family. It was in fact a widespread practice at the News of the World that was known to Rebekah Wade and Andy Coulson during their terms as editor. Over the next year there would be litigation, payouts, and many attempts by the NotW to bury the story. But this is the story that just keeps giving, and many more potential victims sought to find out if they had been hacked. Coulson, who had been appointed as David Cameron's chief of communications, was again forced to resign. In the past couple of days Cameron has attempted to justify the appointment, but this was such a catastrophic error of judgement and one that will become a ball and chain around his ankle for the rest of his career.

By early 2011 the NotW was losing control of the story, and made the tactical decision to make a public apology and give compensation to 8 (maybe more) claimants. I have no doubt that Mr Murdoch had intended that this be the end of the matter. Either he was ignorant of the sheer scale of the use of hacking, or he took a calculated risk and lost...either way, this wasn't the end of it.

This brings us to the the beginning of July The Guardian (the unofficial anti-Murdoch crusaders) released yet another damning story. The story was to take the scandal to a while new level, and be the final nail in the coffin for the NotW. Milly Dowler.

Milly Dowler went missing in March 2002 and 6 months later her body was found. She had been murdered by Levi Bellfield. The allegation is that the News of the World hacked Milly's phone, listened to the frantic messages left by family and friends, and then deleted some to clear space for more. The police identified that messages had been deleted, leading them to believe that Milly was still alive, giving hope to her family. This took the hacking scandal from a bit of controversy that effected ritch celebs, to a truly deplorable act that everyone in the country found sickening.

Demonstrating again the power of social media ordinary members of the public took it upon themselves to start boycotting the paper, adding a new dimension of pressure.

Yesterday, 7th July 2011, it was announced that the paper would close its doors after 168 years in print...and rightly so.

Ollie's Opinion

The Murdoch Monster
I find the Murdoch empire sickening at the best of times. News Corp represents everything that is wrong with the modern media. It has taken press freedoms to a whole new level, and that level has developed an atmosphere of fear among our politicians and the public sector. We should be encouraging politicans to take calculated risks, and acknowledging both their successes and their failures with a balanced, fair and productive manner. Murdoch's papers wield their power over their readers with immaturity, and without any concern for short and long term effects.

I see the closure of NotW as a huge opportunity for our press. Murdoch's empire needs breaking up and the monopoly needs to end. I want to see the return of the sensible and measured press who understand the influence they possess and take that seriously.

Unfortunately i don't think this is going to happen, News Corp is safe. The opportunity comes from their damaged reputation, and small independent newspapers should strike while the iron is hot and get their foot in the door before Murdoch's Monster climbs to its feet again.