Know news is good news

Published 12:50 am Saturday, July 16, 2011

In today’s episode of “As the News of the World Turns,” secretary-turned-CEO Rebekah Brooks has fallen on her sword for her mentor, media mogul Rupert Murdoch, in an attempt to stem the tide of bad publicity centered on Murdoch’s News Corp.

For those who have not followed the overseas drama, Murdoch shut down the British tabloid News of the World after it was discovered editors and reporters had participated in some highly unethical and possibly illegal activities. While 200 employees were kicked to the curb, Brooks was allowed to remain as Murdoch refused to accept her resignation letter. It’s good to be the queen (or at least be in good favor with the king).

The NOTW staff that chose to cut corners in order to scoop the competition triggered this spectacle. Why take a “Woodward & Bernstein” approach to reporting when you apparently can hack into phones or pay police officers for information? With Brooks at the helm, her crew allegedly hacked into the phone of Milly Dowler, a missing schoolgirl who was found dead in 2002. Their actions possibly interfered with the investigation. Other targets of phone hacking included celebrities, politicians and athletes.

Murdoch’s mea culpa came in the form of a full-page ad that ran in Britain’s national newspapers today.

“We are sorry for the serious wrongdoing that occurred. We are deeply sorry for the hurt suffered by the individuals affected. We regret not acting faster to sort things out,” reads the ad signed by Murdoch.

The fallout from this debacle is much greater than Murdoch can imagine as there are now questions about phone hacking of the victims of 9/11.

When a “journalist” acts in this manner, it stains all journalists. For legitimate news organizations, there is no shortcut in reporting the facts. Genuine reporters follow a code of ethics set forth by the Society of Professional Journalists. That’s what creates the divide between newspapers and mullet wrappers.