Most people have heard of the Wall Street Journal, Fox News, the New York Post, and many other publications. But what most people don’t know is that many of these publications and production companies are owned by one company: News Corporation. And that company is controlled by Rupert Murdoch, an 80-year-old Australian man to whom Prime Ministers bow. He built an international media conglomerate with his own two hands, starting with the UK tabloid “News of the World.”
Recently, News Corp has come under fire by allegations that it illegally obtained personal information on ex-UK Prime Minister Gordon Brown. The allegations are especially damning in that the accusers claim that News Corp used known criminals to obtain such information. It always seemed odd to me that tabloids like News of the World were able to obtain incredibly private information about individuals (that I often dismiss as rumor and hearsay) in a legal manner.
But the tabloid went too far this time; releasing photographs and videos of celebrities in compromising situations and discussing the fetishes of CEOs is one thing. But when a company starts hacking into a world leader’s medical records and phone calls, one had better be ready for consequences. News of the World interpreted freedom of the press a bit too liberally. I also find it hard to believe that no one in News International, its division in News Corp, was aware of the illegal acts being committed. Who hired the hackers? Who wrote their checks? Who is taking the fall for this blunder? The fault here extends beyond News of the World – there is someone in News Corp who became too comfortable with their power and forgot that others are watching.
We would also be naive to think that this is the only time this has happened. When a newspaper or production company is part of a conglomerate as large as News Corp, it is silly to think that executives would not attempt to stay ahead of the curve by using all of that company’s resources. Reporters, whether they work for tabloids or business papers, further themselves by getting stories first and exclusively. This can be done with or without the knowledge of the entity being covered, and proceeding discreetly is a way to avoid a lot of red tape.
Although this story is not much of a surprise, it is a reminder: What we see is often not all there is, and what we do not see may be hidden for a reason. Corporate scandals are uncovered nearly every day, and it makes one realize that there must be many, many more that are carried out more subtly. This is Corporacracy: News Corporation delivers to us vital information, but it operates under its own direction. Its leaders walked on a dark path, and as a result many reporters and other employees of News of the World are out of a job, lost in the darkness.