As you may, or may not know by now, the man behind the world’s most controversial media empire has been branded ‘unfit’ to run a major firm. By anyone’s judgement, that’s quite a statement.
So the select committee report into Rupert Murdoch’s newspaper group, and the apparent widespread breaking of laws by staff therein, has come to its verdict, and it’s bad news for the TV and print mogul, not to mention all brands associated with him. A PR disaster no less, the impact on share prices and public perception in terms of everything from The Sun to BSkyB (to name just two household names) could be catastrophic unless action is taken quickly, and decisively.
As the guy at the top of a phone-hacking, bribe paying culture we could well label immoral journalism obviously the already common calls for his resignation will be amplified exponentially, and it’s likely the man in charge will step down of his own accord before being ousted proper. As such today will clearly be remembered as a rather momentous moment in journalism.
Apparently there was a strong division within the select committee, seemingly drawn on party lines. The Labour and Liberal Democrat MPs on the panel voted to include criticisms of James Murdoch (described as exhibiting a ‘lack of curiosity … wilful ignorance even’ towards the actions of his staff), and strengthen the comments aimed at his father, Rupert, in their report. In contrast the Conservatives felt less enthusiastic about doing the same thing (though were outnumbered), whilst all those involved in the judgement were unanimous in their condemnation of lower level employees who actively broke the law for a good story.
Figuring out why this would be the case doesn’t take too long, after all the Tories have closer ties with the other two political camps, meaning they have the most to lose from the top dogs being fingered as responsible for this criminality. The only remaining question then is where from here for Murdoch and Murdoch (et al), News International and News Corp?
The once all-powerful boss, and his band of right hand men and women, will leave with their sickly culture of misdemeanours, and allow the organisations tarnished to try repairing reputations. But when this happens it will also mark the departure of a known newspaper lover and traditionalist from the UK’s largest group of print dailies in an age wherein many rivals are already re-focusing business models to favour online, and because it isn’t so much a case of cutting off the head as surgically removing all the apparently rotten areas the repercussions of this, both editorially and in terms of staff, could be huge.