By JOHN F. BURNS and ALAN COWELL
Andy Coulson, a former editor of The News of the World and a former aide to Prime Minister David Cameron, was arrested on Friday.
The end of the World as we know it
Jul 7th 2011, 17:18 by The Economist online
AS POLITICIANS lacerated it and advertisers withdrew their business this week, the future of the News of the World, Britain’s biggest-selling Sunday paper, looked bleak. Then, in a dramatic announcement, James Murdoch, the chairman of News International, his father Rupert’s British newspaper outfit, announced that, in fact, the paper would have no future it all: its issue of July 10th, he said, would be its last.
It was a bold bid to regain the initiative after a week of appalling revelations about wrongdoing at the News of the World. It began with the revelation that one of the many victims of voicemail-hacking by the paper was Milly Dowler, a 13-year-old girl who was murdered in Surrey in March 2002. On July 4th the Guardian reported allegations that Glenn Mulcaire, a private investigator working with News of the World journalists, had hacked into Dowler’s voicemail in the days after her disappearance, removing some messages to free up space when her account became full. The effect was to make her family think she might still be alive.
Other dreadful allegations followed. The relatives of people killed in the terrorist attacks in London of July 2005, and of soldiers killed in Iraq and Afghanistan, might also have been targeted. News International acknowledged that it had passed e-mails to the police that appeared to document illegal payments to police officers by News of the World journalists. Even worse was alleged by some MPs in a heated parliamentary debate on July 6th.
Mr Mulcaire was jailed in 2007 for hacking voicemail messages of members of the royal household, along with Clive Goodman, the News of the World’s royal correspondent. At the time, and for a long time afterwards, executives at News International insisted that Mr Goodman was a lone, rogue operator. In the past few months that defence has collapsed, amid a deluge of civil cases brought by the lengthening list of hacking victims, pay-offs and the arrest of more journalists. James Murdoch acknowledged that the defence was untrue, and that he himself had approved out-of-court settlements with some hacking victims without having “a complete picture”. This was “a matter of serious regret”, he said.
Quite what this means for News International and the British newspaper market is unclear. Rumours swirled that the Sun, the News of the World’s weekday sister paper, might begin to be published on Sunday too (and that a rejig of the firm’s tabloid operations was in the pipeline anyway). News International has not disclosed its plans for an alternative publication if any.
But Mr Murdoch has evidently decided that the reputational damage to News Corporation outweighs the revenue the News of the World generated. The tabloid is a relatively profitable part of the Murdochs’ British newspaper business, but piffling in comparison with the serious earners—such as BSkyB, a hugely profitable satellite broadcaster in which News Corporation already has a 39% stake, and wants to buy the rest of. Jeremy Hunt, the culture secretary, looked set finally to approve the deal after a consultation on its impact on media plurality ends on July 8th, but politicians and others are urging him to reconsider or at least find a pretext for delay (the announcement now looks unlikely to come soon). Meanwhile Ofcom, the broadcasting regulator, is obliged to consider whether the holders of broadcasting licences are “fit and proper”. It is “closely monitoring the situation”.
Out to dry
News International may have bought itself a little awed breathing space, but others are in the line of fire too—including the police, and not only because of the revelations about bungs from journalists. That was only the latest aspersion cast on various police forces by this affair. The Metropolitan Police itself stands accused of failing for several years to notify potential victims of hacking and failing to pursue leads: the evidence for many recent allegations comes from notes seized from Mr Mulcaire in 2006. The Met launched a fresh probe in January. On July 7th its commanding officer said it that 4,000 names were mentioned in the paperwork.
Two former editors are also in deep trouble. Andy Coulson resigned from the paper in 2007 after Mr Goodman and Mr Mulcaire were convicted, though he insisted that he knew nothing of their nefarious methods. He resigned again, this time from his job as Mr Cameron’s communications chief, in January this year, as the hacking scandal escalated. Mr Cameron’s judgment in hiring Mr Coulson after his tabloid escapades now looks ropier than ever. Mr Coulson is said to be implicated in the e-mails that point to illegal payments by journalists to police officers.
His predecessor as editor was Rebekah Brooks; she is now News International’s chief executive. She has rebuffed calls for her resignation, declaring herself “shocked” at the latest charges and promising to “vigorously pursue the truth”. For the moment, at least, Mrs Brooks appears to be protected by what insiders describe as an intense, almost familial bond with Rupert Murdoch; he this week called the recent allegations “deplorable”, but stood by her.
In the gutter
And it isn’t only the Murdoch press that is set to feel the backlash. Ed Miliband, the leader of the Labour Party, wants a public inquiry into the culture and regulation of the press; Mr Cameron agrees that there ought to be one or more inquiries, after criminal proceedings are over. One result may be a change to the current model of newspaper self-regulation; the Press Complaints Commission, the toothless body responsible for it, has handled the hacking affair woefully.
Most MPs were in the past much more diplomatic about the press, especially the Murdoch stable, which, so exaggerated legend had it, could decide the fate of governments. But the calculus for politicians has suddenly shifted—along with the ecology of British journalism, public perceptions of the police, and much besides.
新聞報導 | 2011.07.08
路透社評論認為，本週四宣布關閉《世界新聞報》的消息是默多克充滿爭議的職業生涯中，最富戲劇性的事件之一。該評論認為，這位80歲老人作出決定的動機是避免旗下傳媒帝國中其他營利豐厚的業務受到負面影響。直接負責管理英國這份報紙的是默多克的兒子，詹姆斯·默多克（James Murdoch）。他指出，父親1969年收購的這家報社被"不正確的做法所玷污。"在面對美國新聞機構的採訪時，他對在英國當地管理該報的國際新聞集團主編麗貝卡·布魯克斯（ Rebekah Brooks）做出的這一決定表示讚賞："我對麗貝卡非常滿意，她在公司的領導能力以及她在倫理道德上所奉行的標準都非常令人滿意。我想她的這種決定和我們與警察在透明的環境中主動配合調查的做法再次表明我們願意主動推進整個事件的調查過程……我對這些做法非常有信心，這顯示了我們正在做正確的事情。 "
法新社倫敦17日電，隨著週日出刊的「世界新聞報」（News of the World）停刊，英國媒體無不想盡辦法搶下該報讀者。但分析師警告，短期報紙銷量雖可能衝高，但長期來看，市場很可能垮臺。
倫敦恩德斯分析公司（Enders Analysis）分析師麥凱比（Douglas McCabe）告訴法新社，週日報紙未來幾週銷售量會暴衝。
據報導，發行量一般不到200萬份的「週日郵報」（Mail on Sunday），這個週末印刷超過300萬份。而「每日星報」（Daily Star）的週日小報加印兩倍，總印刷量衝到220萬份。
倫敦城市大學（City University of London）政治新聞教授嘉伯（Ivor Gaber）表示：「我認為週日報紙市場會縮減。任何1家報社關閉，都會流失一些讀者。