There can be little doubt that Murdoch’s News International has fanned the flames of climate scepticism and mislead the public: but what kind of company is News?
Hence my interest in what is happening in the UK.
The Leveson inquiry (set up in response to the phone hacking scandal) has just delivered its verdict, and it’s not good for the Murdoch’s or News International.
Simply put, they failed to apply suitable standards of corporate governance: in plain English that means Murdoch failed to manage his company.
The Murdoch-owned company News International seriously failed in corporate governance over phone-hacking and James Murdoch’s account of a key event was less credible than that of an executive who told a different story, the Leveson inquiry has found.
Justice Leveson found that News International and its parent company News Corp had failed to investigate evidence that phone-hacking was widespread among journalists at the News of the World.
“There was serious failure of governance within the News of the World. Given criminal investigation and what are now the impending prosecutions, it is simply not possible to go further at this stage,” he said…
Interestingly, James Murdoch did get the emails related to phone hacking (though denies reading them):
Mr Murdoch had been sent an email chain in which a hacking victim alleged that illegal practices were “rife within the organisation”. Mr Murdoch told the inquiry he had not read all the email chain and was unaware of this claim.
Justice Leveson concluded: “James Murdoch replied to the email within two minutes of receiving it. The speed and content of his reply appear to support his claim not to have focused on the key allegation.”
The report recommends an “independent self-regulatory body” to help enforce a “standards code”. The report can be seen here and is worth reading, but one of the key recommendations is for a code of standards that ensures “the need for accuracy, and the need to avoid misrepresentation” (page 33).
It is worth noting the report explicitly states the body will have NO power to prohibit the publishing of information: still this will not prohibit the Murdoch empire claiming a totalitarian dictatorship is one the way.
Watch the commentary on the Leveson report from The Australian for the official Murdoch party line.
“The internet ate my media empire” excuse: how News International is destroying the public’s trust in media
Having noted the above, it is worth recalling Australia is the grip of a faux-scandal fanned, cheered on and manufactured by News Ltd.
But as the hacks of the Murdoch empire pursue their ideological vendetta against the mildly right-of-centre Gillard government, attack climate scientists and promote right-wing nuttery the public is increasingly losing faith in the media.
Across the English speaking world public trust in journalists and the media is collapsing – especially in those countries where News International is dominant:
Is it a surprise the media is the least trusted industry?
Conventional wisdom states the internet is destroying traditional media – which is only partly true.
It’s not the platform – it’s the content.
And the content?
No-one believes it. They don’t trust it. And increasingly, they’re not paying for it.
I’d argue the public trust is collapsing faster in the English-speaking world – the UK, USA and Australia – where the Murdoch press is a major player or dominant.
Because of the disconnect between real world events and what News reports across it papers and on stations such as Fox News.
People are noticing the disconnect.
Told that climate change isn’t real, all they have to do is look at increasing weather extremes.
News International champions an extreme form of market-fundamentalism – and yet it is this extreme laissez-faire philosophy of limited government, deregulation and blind faith in market forces that laid the seeds for the present financial crisis.
Nearly every News outlet championed Romney and the GOP in the last US presidential election, thinking Obama’s re-election unthinkable. And yet Obama comfortably won his second term.
Need I go on?
News International is infected with an aversion to reality, and it’s hurting their reputation and destroying public trust in the media.