Murdoch not knowing makes News Int *more* ethical, not less

An interesting argument.

The journalistic ethics of a previous generation were that the proprietor would not know, should not know, who sources were.

Now we\’re castigating a proprietor for not knowing who sources were?

6 thoughts on “Murdoch not knowing makes News Int *more* ethical, not less”

  1. A couple of points. First, the News International line is not just that the Murdochs knew nothing, but that also the editors – Coulson and Brookes – knew nothing. That is not credible. And if they did know, they should have alerted the Murdochs to the fact that illegal methods were being used. Is it credible that they never mentioned it, even though it would bring the company into disrepute if it ever came out?
    Secondly, the point about protecting sources doesn’t really apply – there were no “sources”. The journalists and/or private eyes were illegally obtaining information without a “source” providing it to them. There was nobody for the journalists to protect except their lying, cheating, law-breaking selves.

  2. Exactly what Misty said. Nobody is suggesting that the News International CEOs (ie Hinton, Murdoch Jr and Brooks) should have known who the sources were, much less that Murdoch Sr should’ve known. But it’s true that they should have known whether or not cash payments were being authorised to illegally hack phones and bribe policemen.

    When Brooks admitted to Parliament several years ago that the NOTW was bribing policemen for stories, at that point Murdoch as group executive chairman – not for journalistic reasons, but because of his legally defined role in preventing the company from deliberately breaking the law – should have commissioned a proper investigation and thrown people found to be breaking the law to the wolves.

  3. Tim,

    I do not believe that the author of the post to which you have linked is correct. I read ‘All The President’s Men’ nearly a year ago, and recall reading of how Bob Woodward and Ben Bradlee being invited to lunch with Kathleen Graham. Graham asked ‘Deep Throat’ was, and Woodward declined to tell her. She might not have had any expectation of being told, or indeed have been testing Woodward’s resolve not to tell; but unless I am greratly mistaken she did ask.

  4. An interesting idea of senior responsability for everything. The head of the army should be told about soldiers shoplifting?
    And why the kangeroo court? Considering the ‘errors’ of government you could have a huge quango finding out why ministers didn’t know this and that sin.

  5. @ misty and johnb: I think you’re both quite wrong. I find it entirely credible that the senior executives of News International had no direct knowledge of the methods used by freelance private investigators to obtain information. There may be a sin of ommission there, in that they might have asked, but the Information Commission’s 2006 report makes clear that the most frequent users of information obtained by potentially illegal methods were, in order, The Daily Mail, The Sunday People, The Daily Mirror, The Mail on Sunday, and only then the News of The World. Other frequent users were The Observer and the London Evening Standard. Naturally they all cried “nonsense!” at the time, just like News International. We’re talking about a criminal culture here, identified over five years ago – why do you choose to excoriate Rupert Murdoch in particular?

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