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August 03 2012


Rebekah Brooks charged over phone hacking allegations

Guardian :: Former News International chief executive Rebekah Brooks was formally charged with phone hacking and will appear in court next month, Scotland Yard have said. Brooks, 44, answered bail at Lewisham police station and will appear at Westminster magistrates court on 3 September.

A report by Press Association, www.guardian.co.uk

April 30 2012


Ofcom extends review of News Corp's ownership of BSkyB

Mediaweek.co.uk :: Ofcom has asked News International for documents relating to phone hacking settlements, after stepping its probe into whether News Corporation is a "fit and proper" shareholder of BSkyB.

Continue to read Maisie McCabe, mediaweek.co.uk

April 26 2012


Rupert Murdoch: I should have closed News of the World earlier

journalism.co.uk :: Rupert Murdoch has told the Leveson inquiry he is "sorry" he did not close the News of the World "years before" and replace it with Sunday edition of the Sun. Asked by Robert Jay QC about last July's decision to close the 168-year-old title, after the Guardian's revelations on the Milly Dowler phone hacking, Murdoch said: "I panicked - but I'm glad I did."

Continue to read Paul McNally, www.journalism.co.uk

April 17 2012


Reuters Institute hosts a debate taking stock of the crisis in British (U.S.) journalism

Capital New York :: In the short time during which The Leveson Inquiry in Britain has been investigating the practice of phone-hacking by Rupert Murdoch’s News International employees, the revelations have been as shocking as the resignations have been numerous. Unscrupulous editors, crooked reporters, bribe-accepting policemen, corrupt government officials, the head of Scotland Yard, the News of the World itself: all participants in and casualties of this historic scandal.

What does this mean for the international journalistic community?

Continue to read Lauren Kirchner, www.capitalnewyork.com

February 27 2012


Murdoch claims three million sales for Sun on Sunday launch

Journalism.co.uk :: News Corporation chairman Rupert Murdoch has claimed a launch day circulation of more than three million for the first edition of the Sun on Sunday. Murdoch, who has been in London for the past week to oversee the launch, said on Twitter: "Reports early, but new Sun edition sold three million." On Friday, he had said he would be happy with substantially above two million.

Continue to read Paul McNally, www.journalism.co.uk


£10m in extra advertising money: ITV benefits most from Sun on Sunday launch

Guardian :: The launch of the Sunday Sun has sparked a battle for the weekend newspaper market that will see more than £10m in extra advertising money spent in the coming weeks, benefiting hard-pressed media companies and in particular ITV. The UK's biggest advertiser-funded broadcaster will take the lion's share of the new advertising money flooding the market as News International and rival Sunday tabloid publishers seek to promote their titles.

Continue to read Mark Sweney, www.guardian.co.uk

February 20 2012


Sun on Sunday 'has potential to do massive numbers'

Brand Republic :: Rupert Murdoch's long-awaited confirmation that News International would be launching a Sunday edition of The Sun "very soon", will undoubtedly give the Sunday market the kick up the backside many observers believe it needs. Media Week spoke to media agency executives and rival newspaper groups to get their take on the launch of the Sun on Sunday.

Continue to read John Reynolds, www.brandrepublic.com

February 11 2012


Tom Mockridge's email to News Int staff: Dear colleagues ...

Guardian :: Email sent by Tom Mockridge to News International staff on Saturday after five senior Sun journalists were arrested.

[Tom Mockridge:] Dear colleagues,
I am very saddened that a further five colleagues from The Sun have been arrested this morning by the Police. It has already been widely reported the individuals involved are Geoff Webster, John Edwards, John Kay, John Sturgis and Nick Parker. This news is difficult for everyone on The Sun and particularly for those of you who work closely with those involved. ...

The full email - Continue to read www.guardian.co.uk


The Sun's worst crisis: Senior journalists arrested in police payments probe

Guardian :: The Sun has been plunged into its worst ever crisis following the arrest of five of its most senior journalists over corruption allegations, moving Rupert Murdoch to pledge his support for the paper amid rumours that it faces closure. Murdoch's "total commitment" to continue to own and publish the Sun was sent to News International staff by chief executive Tom Mockridge after the journalists, who include the deputy editor, were arrested in connection with an investigation into inappropriate payments to police and public officials.

Continue to read David Batty, www.guardian.co.uk

January 23 2012


Tom Watson calls on Met to investigate Times email hacking

Journalism.co.uk :: Tom Watson, the Labour MP who has spearheaded the political investigation into phone hacking at News International, has called on the Metropolitan police to investigate a case of email hacking at the Times. Watson has written to Sue Akers – deputy assistant commissioner at the Met police, who is running the force's investigation into phone hacking – urging her to launch an investigation into a 2009 instance of email hacking by a Times reporter.

Continue to read Joel Gunter, www.journalism.co.uk


Dan Sabbagh: Has phone hacking changed attitudes at the top of News Corp?

Guardian :: Rupert Murdoch will have known before his arrival in London on Thursday that his company was prepared to admit "senior employees and directors" of News Group Newspapers, which published the News of the World, "knew about its wrongdoing". It also admitted it sought to cover up the phone hacking by "deliberately failing to provide the police with all the facts" and "destroying evidence of wrongdoing", for the purposes of the legal settlements. It paid out at least £640,000 in damages as well as all legal costs. News Corporation insiders were emphatic that the concessions were technical, made only to settle claims "expeditiously". But it is clear that there has been a shift in attitudes as News Corp seeks eventually to distance itself from the phone-hacking crisis that is likely take years to run

Continue to read Dan Sabbagh, www.guardian.co.uk

January 19 2012


Phone-hacking: News Corp agrees to settle a string of legal claims

Reuters ::  Rupert Murdoch's News International had for years claimed that the hacking of voicemails to generate stories was the work of a single "rogue" reporter who went to jail for the crime in 2007. However, under a wave of damning evidence last year it finally admitted that the problem was widespread.

Continue to read Georgina Prodhan | Kate Holton, www.reuters.com

January 18 2012


The Times plans social sharing upgrade, real-time iPad news

paidContent :: News International’s The Times may shed its social media invisibility cloak by letting subscribers gift paywalled articles to friends. It is also considering introducing micropayments and may add rolling news to mobile editions.

[Nick Bell:] Over the next six months, you will see us rewarding our paying subscribers with the ability to share amongst their network.

Robert Andrews interviewed News International digital product director Nick Bell at the Digital Content Monetisation Europe conference in London on Wednesday.

Continue to read Robert Andrews, paidcontent.org

January 05 2012


Project 222 - News Int gears up for launch of iPad focused project (?)

Another one?

Press Gazette :: News International is gearing up a new digital project which is believed to be largely aimed at iPad users and is partly staffed by former employees of the News of the World. At least 11 former News of the World journalists were said in October to be working on a new unspecified digital project. The new digital operation has the working title Project 222, a reference to the fact that the team is based at 222 Gray’s Inn Road, which is also the home of the Times Literary Supplement.

Continue to read Dominic Ponsford, www.pressgazette.co.uk

September 14 2011


Phone hacking: News Int. finds 'large caches' of documents "current management was unaware of"

Guardian :: The publisher of the News of the World has found "many tens of thousands" of new documents and emails that could contain evidence about the scale of phone hacking at the paper, it has emerged. Michael Silverleaf QC, the barrister for the News International subsidiary News Group Newspapers (NGN), told the high court at a pre-trial hearing on Tuesday: "Two very large new caches of documents have been [discovered] which the current management were unaware of."

Continue to read James Robinson, www.guardian.co.uk

September 05 2011


Phone-hacking: Colin Myler, Tom Crone, ex-News Corp. executives, aim to shift blame in testimony

Vancouver Sun :: Four former News Corp. executives testify in the U.K. Parliament this week after questioning the veracity of parts of News International Deputy Chief Operating Officer James Murdoch’s testimony over a phone-hacking scandal July 19. Within days, two of them, Colin Myler and Tom Crone issued a statement casting doubt on his version of responsibility "for ethical lapses".

[Niri Shan, head of media law at Taylor Wessing LLP in London:] The problem with saying too much is that you then have a version of events on the record that can be scrutinized and picked apart, and that’s what happened.

Continue to read Robert Hutton, Bloomberg, www.vancouversun.com

September 02 2011


Different stories - Gordon Brown issues challenge over Sunday Times recordings

Independent (UK) :: Gordon Brown has stepped up his campaign against Rupert Murdoch’s News International media group, sending tape recordings to the Metropolitan Police earlier today which he says challenge the Sunday Times’s assurances that it broke no laws when investigating his personal financial affairs.

Continue to read James Cusick, www.independent.co.uk

July 30 2011


A (false) clean bill of health? - Harbottle & Lewis clearing letter 2007 for News International

New York Times :: When a Parliamentary committee first confronted The News of the World with charges of phone hacking in 2007, the paper’s owners produced a reassuring, one-paragraph letter from a prominent London law firm named Harbottle & Lewis. Now two people familiar with internal discussions between News International and Harbottle & Lewis, who spoke on the condition of anonymity given the criminal investigations, said company executives urged Harbottle & Lewis to write a letter giving News International a clean bill of health in the strongest possible terms. But in the years since the letter was written, various revelations have confirmed that phone hacking was endemic at the tabloid. 

An investigation - continue to read Jo Becker | Don Van Natta Jr., www.nytimes.com

July 28 2011


James Murdoch likely to remain BSkyB head after winning key backer

Guardian :: The Guardian reports that James Murdoch is likely to remain chairman of satellite company BSkyB after winning the support of the leading independent director ahead of a crunch meeting later this week Nicholas Ferguson, Sky's deputy chairman, is understood to have given Murdoch his backing after a "long conversation" in a private meeting, despite continuing questions about the role played by Rupert Murdoch's youngest son in the phone-hacking scandal.

Continue to read www.guardian.co.uk

July 26 2011


Your Guide to the U.K. Phone-Hacking Scandal (or 'Hackgate')

From time to time, we provide an overview of one broad MediaShift topic, annotated with online resources and plenty of tips. The idea is to help you understand the topic, learn the jargon, and take action. We've previously covered Twitter, local watchdog news sites, and Net neutrality, among other topics. This week MediaShift U.K. correspondent Tristan Stewart-Robertson looks at the phone-hacking scandal.


To still use the terms "phone hacking" or "News of the World" to describe the scandal engulfing the British media is now somewhat insufficient.

"Hackgate," as it's often called on Twitter, has really been going on since 2002, but didn't explode until July 4, 2011 and has since dominated the news in the U.K. and increasingly abroad.

Without question, The Guardian has been the leader on the phone-hacking story from day one, and reporter Nick Davies will most certainly be the runaway candidate for "reporter of the year" at next year's British Press Awards. The paper's multimedia coverage and interactive features on a continually moving and expanding story are second to none.

The New York Times has also been a leader on the story, particularly with its September 2010 investigation into the subject.

Glossary of Terms

"Blagging": It might sound like a quaint English term, but it, too, is illegal. As the BBC summarizes, the Data Protection Act 1998 prevents someone from pretending to be another person for the purposes of gaining access to private data, such as medical records.

Phone hacking: The technical term for what private investigators, and some reporters, were doing for the News of the World is actually "illicit voice message interception." It's illegal to access someone else's cell phone messages, usually by having one person call the phone, and while it is engaged, a second person calls and gets access to the messages. Most people wouldn't think to change the standard manufacturer's code, such as 9999 or 0000, to protect voicemail, and so it's usually quite easy to access.

"Pinging" or phone tracking: Police can track a suspect's cell phone by triangulation from nearby cell phone towers. But as the Guardian exposed, the News of the World allegedly paid police to access such tracking. If proven, both the bribery and obtaining of private data would be punishable.

Public Interest: When the British media talks about what is in "the public interest," this is quite broad but has a specific legal backing which is referred to as The Reynolds Defense. The full case is here, but Wikipedia has a summary of it.

Regulation: Many commentators, when talking about possible statutory regulation of the press, cite the flaws of self-regulation, which currently takes the form of the Press Complaints Council and its code of practice. But regulation could mimic the Broadcasting Act 1996 which dictates fairness and balance in television news, and can invoke large fines for breaches.

Main Cast of characters

Andy Coulson: Editor of the News of the World. He resigned in 2007 when phone hacking was first exposed with the criminal convictions of former royal correspondent Clive Goodman and private detective Glenn Mulcaire. Coulson later was appointed as chief of communications for Prime Minister David Cameron before resigning again this year.

james murdoch.jpg

James Murdoch: Chairman and chief executive of News Corp., Europe, and son of Rupert, he authorized out-of-court settlements for phone hacking, which he later said he regretted because he did not have all the information about the extent of the criminality. His evidence in front of a House of Commons select committee has now been questioned.

Rupert Murdoch: Chairman and CEO of News Corp. Political leaders considered he was essential to have on their side to be able to win British elections.

Rebekah Wade: Editor of the News of the World, then its sister paper The Sun, and then chief executive of News International until her resignation during the hacking scandal. She was editor at the time of the alleged hacking of the phone of murdered 13-year-old school girl Milly Dowler, which turned the public against News International.


In 2005, a story about medical treatment of Prince William led Buckingham Palace to suspect interference with his voicemail.

Goodman, the News of the World royal reporter, was jailed in 2007 as was private investigator Mulcaire. Coulson resigned as editor, and everyone claimed it was just a few bad apples.

In 2009, the Guardian returned to the story and exposed out-of-court settlements to public figures, suggesting there were thousands more potential victims, including celebrities and politicians.

On July 4, 2011, the Guardian revealed the hacking of Milly Dowler's phone, which turned public attention dramatically to the story.

After an outcry from the public and a campaign on Twitter and Facebook to get advertisers
to drop the News of the World, News International announced that the July 10 issue of the News of the World would be the last after 168 years.

The next week, News Corp. announced it would stop its attempt to take over all of BSkyB.
And in the ultimate climax, the following week, James and Rupert Murdoch and Wade gave evidence to a House of Commons select committee.

The dominant digital coverage


The phone-hacking story traditionally would have started in print on July 5. Instead, the Guardian released it online first on July 4, giving other media a chance to pick up the story for the next day and hitting the social media sphere much earlier than Tuesday morning.

That very much fits into the strategy announced by the Guardian last month of digital first. Most, if not all, of the revelations from the phone-hacking scandal were broken online before print editions hit the streets in a battle for the public attention -- and frequently mid-afternoon so ideally placed to catch the 6 p.m. TV newscasts and an American audience five or more hours behind.

Online coverage has also allowed for detailed timelines and data visualizations in the Guardian, as well as crowdsourcing from the Guardian and Telegraph (see below).

Digital reaction

When news of the hacking of Milly Dowler's phone first broke, outrage ensued on social media such as Facebook and Twitter. Although the public did not initially have papers in front of them to target particular advertisers with the News of the World, a campaign soon started.

Parenting forum Mumsnet helped drive the online campaign and pulled its own campaign from Sky television, which at the time News Corp. was trying to acquire.

Again, the Guardian was at the forefront of providing information, publishing the Twitter addresses of the top 50 News of the World advertisers.

Twitters users became perhaps the most active during the James and Rupert Murdoch testimony in front of Britain's Select Committee on July 19, showing the speed of social media reaction. Within minutes of a protestor throwing a shaving-cream pie at Murdoch senior and the right-hook reaction from wife Wendi Deng, #piegate shot onto the Twitter trending list, only to be overtaken minutes later with #wendi.

Crowdsourcing and Data Visualization

The Guardian and Telegraph have both invited readers and users to get involved in sorting through data. The Telegraph released articles from the past decade in the News of the World that mention phone calls, voicemails and emails. The Guardian's crowdsourced list of potential victims is currently offline to check accuracy. The Atlantic has also praised such efforts to tackle the volume of potential phone-hacking victims and associated data.


  • The Leveson Inquiry will be the formal and broad investigation into the media's practices and ethics, as well as publishers' involvement with politics and the police.
  • Operation Weeting is the formal inquiry by the Metropolitan Police into phone hacking and more, and is a follow-up to the previous failed police inquiries. A total of 60 officers are now on the case.
  • The Serious Fraud Office in the U.K. is said to be considering an investigation.

In Numbers

Deaths: 1 [Sean Hoare]

Arrests: 9 [Neville Thurlbeck, Ian Edmondson, James Weatherup, Terenia Taras, Coulson, Goodman, an unidentified 63-year-old man, Neil Wallis and Brooks]

Charges: 0

Allegations dropped: 1 [Press Association reporter Laura Elston]

Convictions: 2 [Goodman, Mulcaire]

Resignations: 4 [Brooks (News Int), Coulson (technically well before the scandal blew up, and twice, from News Int and Conservative Party), Sir Paul Stephenson (police), John Yates (police), Les Hinton (Dow Jones)]

Fired: 1 [Matt Nixson, features editor at The Sun and former NOTW employee]

Laid Off: 200 [News of the World staff, according to its former political editor]

Tristan Stewart-Robertson is a Canadian freelance reporter based in Glasgow, Scotland, operating as the W5 Press Agency.

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