This Is Investigative Reporting? News Corp. Allegedly Hacked Into Phones, Paid Off People To Silence Them

from the hmm... dept

We keep being told that only newspapers can do "real" investigative reporting, even though we've seen plenty of evidence of others doing quite impressive investigative reporting without having a background in journalism. And, now, we find out that some investigative reporting by those "real" journalists apparently involved breaking the law, violating individuals' privacy... and then paying people off to keep quiet about it. At least that's the charge from The Guardian against Rupert Murdoch's News Corp. According to the Guardian's report (and, yes, the Guardian is a real newspaper and appears to have done a nice investigative job here -- we're not saying newspapers can't do good investigative reporting), there's growing evidence that a lot of folks involved in Murdoch's News Group Newspapers were involved in hiring people to hack into thousands of mobile phones to record and transcribe phone calls between various politicians and celebrities, and also involved tricking "government agencies, banks, phone companies and others... into handing over confidential information." And? When that evidence started to come out, they apparently paid up a bunch of hush money and convinced a court to seal the files. Again, this isn't to implicate all newspapers (the fact that another newspaper figured this out is great). But the idea that newspaper investigative reporting is somehow "pure" once again seems to be in question.

Filed Under: hacking, newspapers, privacy, reporting, spying
Companies: news corp.


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  1. identicon
    Robert, 10 Jul 2009 @ 12:48am

    This story is a politically motivated attempt to oust one of the Conservatives PR chiefs, the Guardian being an openly left-wing newspaper, which actively campaigns for its causes. Such behaviour is not unusual for UK newspapers, since they are all open about their politics.

    Of course, this doesn't stop the accusations being true, but it does mean they should be read with an eye to potential spin.

    In this case, one News of the World journalist was convicted and imprisoned a few years ago, after he conspired with a private detective to hack phones. The paper's editor resigned, saying that though he hadn't known what his journalist was doing he was still responsible. Some of the victims tried to sue News International, on the theory that they were liable for the conduct of their staff, but that case was settled out of court, and the documents sealed.

    Now, a few years later, when that editor is employed by the Conservatives, the Guardian have got hold of some of those sealed files. They say that several other journalists used the same private detective, so the editor must have known. Reading between the lines, they have no hard evidence to back up this inference, or indeed to prove that the other journalists used illegally obtained information, and that private detective also did work for other papers, including some on the left.

    There is a real instance of corrupt journalism at the heart of this - that's why one of them did a prison term - but the Guardian currently appears to have resurrected this story for sordid political motives, not because of anything new.

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