Rupert Murdoch's son James announced this morning that following the allegations that Murdoch's News of the World tabloid hacked the voicemails of a slain teen girl, potentially impeding a police investigation and giving the girl's family false hope that she was still alive, this Sunday will be the tabloid's last issue. From the statement:
The News of the World is in the business of holding others to account. But it failed when it came to itself.
In 2006, the police focused their investigations on two men. Both went to jail. But the News of the World and News International failed to get to the bottom of repeated wrongdoing that occurred without conscience or legitimate purpose.
Wrongdoers turned a good newsroom bad and this was not fully understood or adequately pursued.
As a result, the News of the World and News International wrongly maintained that these issues were confined to one reporter. We now have voluntarily given evidence to the police that I believe will prove that this was untrue and those who acted wrongly will have to face the consequences.
Inside the Company, we set up a Management and Standards Committee that is working on these issues and that has hired Olswang to examine past failings and recommend systems and practices that over time should become standards for the industry. We have committed to publishing Olswang's terms of reference and eventual recommendations in a way that is open and transparent.
So, just as I acknowledge we have made mistakes, I hope you and everyone inside and outside the Company will acknowledge that we are doing our utmost to fix them, atone for them, and make sure they never happen again.
Having consulted senior colleagues, I have decided that we must take further decisive action with respect to the paper.
This Sunday will be the last issue of the News of the World.
Shutting down News of the World should not be an excuse to avoid a full scale investigation across all its media outlets. After all, News of the World is not the only paper facing hacking allegations; News Corp.'s The Sun is also alleged to have hacked into the voicemails of a prominent public figure.
And the rumors that News Corp. is moving The Sun to a seven-day operation provides further evidence that News Corp. is just trying to hide from full accountability of the misdeeds throughout their organization.
After all, while James Murdoch's statement touts News Corp.'s efforts to “examine past failings,” he failed to mention that the head of News Corp.'s woefully inadequate previous internal investigation, Murdoch crony and then executive chairman of News Corp.'s newspapers in Britain Les Hinton -- who found no evidence of widespread wrongdoing within the company -- remains a Murdoch confident and serves as CEO of the Dow Jones company, which publishes the Wall Street Journal. Additionally when Murdoch was asked in May if he could assure Americans that there won't be any hacking by the New York Post, Murdoch responded that he had “nothing to say.” Hardly the words of an organization eager to accept accountability.
Moreover, this just looks like another attempt for Murdoch to shield another crony, Rebekah Brooks from taking accountability for overseeing the paper at the time of the alleged hacking. Brooks was the editor of News of the World at the time of the alleged hacking of the slain girl's voicemail, but is now one of Murdoch's top lieutenants. Murdoch personally defended Brooks yesterday, and then his News International reportedly tried to laughably say that she was not at fault because she was on vacation at the time if the hacking. But Brooks had previously admitted that under her leadership the paper placed a police detective under surveillance, which she'd reportedly apologized for. Now she's claiming that she was completely ignorant of this subsequent violations of privacy on her watch, and Murdoch defended that behavior as good leadership.
It's good that News of the World will no longer be able to violate people's privacy, but Murdoch shouldn't be allowed to use this enormous distraction to hide from true accountability for his organization's actions.