The University of Missouri School of Journalism's daily newspaper avoids administration censorship because it is owned by the School of Journalism Alumni Association, actually makes money and is thus insulated from similar situations that arise at other universities. This separation has proved handy, as you may imagine.
The Columbia Missourian is delivered every morning to the homes of paid subscribers who include residents who are neither students nor affiliated with the university, which is not the case with The Maneater [insert snarky comment here] free campus newspaper, so named for the school's Tiger mascot.
Far be it for to defend Rupert Murdoch, but the activity you describe applies to what TV and radio stations have been doing for years and years and years. I was a newspaper editor of one sort or another for nearly 30 years, and it always struck me that the stories I was hearing on the radio or seeing on TV were the same stories we had worked on the night before.
Here's what happens:
Newspaper publishes story.
Clerks from TV and radio stations pick up first editions the night before they land on doorsteps, either at the printing plants or as bundles are dropped at news stands.
TV station (and/or radio) sends reporter with camera person to location story took place.
TV reporter does his or her own report based on newspaper's story or AP rewrite of same story.
Voila! So-called independent story.
It doesn't make Murdoch any less a hypocrite.
But as someone who looks at RSS feeds from between 90 and 135 web sites each day, I can tell you that the majority (2/3? 3/4? who cares?) of stories out there originate at newspapers in one form or another. Broadcasters are generally pathetic. Bloggers ad their own embellishments and interpretation and sometimes genuinely thoughtful perspective. And they do break stories and add immense value and interesting perspectives to content they don't initiate.
But the kernels of most news stories originate with newspapers. You may not like it, but it's a fact. It may be less true than it used to be but it's still true, based on my fairly thorough but unscientific observations.
I no longer work at a newspaper, having lost my job because of the continuing contraction in that business. I don't blame anyone but newspaper management for dragging their feet for years and years and years.
It does not change, however, the fact that what you describe is the way things have always worked.
But whenever I write something based on something someone else had first, I point it out, and prominently. Most respectable journalists would do this.
Whether Murdoch's minions fall into that category, I'll leave for others to decide. I'm biased.
When a lot of newspapers were a lot less desperate than they are now, owners of dominant publications in two- or multi-paper towns undercut advertising and subscription prices of their competitors to drive them out of business. This smells to me, a former newspaper journalist, a lot like that, except that I don't see how it can work. People are not going to stop using Google (and switch to Bing? Puh-leeze it's beyond lame), so what seems more likely is that readership and web hits will dry up even further.