Friday, 8 July 2011

O tempora o mores!


I guess most of us were stunned by the News of the World announcement on Thursday. Of course it was a calculated move and, considering it now, I imagine it was business cased some considerable time ago, and placed in the 'In Case of Emergency, Break Glass' box. 

After all, multinational corporations don't just have Plan Bs, they have an entire alphabet of contingencies. 
After Clive Goodman was jailed, Andy Coulson walked, increasing numbers of public figures came forward to complain about hacking, it's hard to imagine there wasn't a very frank discussion of just how dark this particular tunnel could turn out to be. The answer, of course, was pitch black.

So, shocking and yet unsurprising in equal measures. But Newspaper DeathWatch got very irate about the decision: 
"In a stunning example of corporate overreaction, News Corp. today announced that it will shut down Britain’s largest Sunday newspaper amid a growing scandal over voicemail hacking"
It went on 
"Whatever the motives, the decision strikes us as a massive overreaction. Scandals like this are usually addressed by a few high-level resignations and some corporate self-flagellation. It could be that the timing was simply bad for News Corp., but depriving 200 people of their livelihoods – and a couple of million Brits of their weekly celebrity scandals – strikes us as a bit over the top."
I sympathise deeply with the journalists who have lost their jobs - just a look at the state of the industry in 2011 should make anyone think 'there but for the grace...' - but calling the closure 'a bit over the top' is to underestimate the mood of the British public. 
Hard to see how there could be any redemption once the names of Millie Dowler and the Soham families (and others) had been dragged into it.

David Higgerson has written a superb post on the role social media played in this drama - and it did play a significant one, as an angry Roger Alton told Channel 4 news earlier tonight:
"the comfortable middle-class mothers of MumsNet sitting down to their fair-trade tea and organic shortbread biscuits I hope are very pleased with the Twitter campaign they organised, getting advertisers not to advertise in the News of The World. They’ve done as much as anybody to close this paper and put 200 reporters, photographers, editors and young people just starting their careers out of work.. These yummy mummies have done as much as anybody to put them out of work. I hope they’re feeling pleased with themselves"
It wasn't the most finely judged thing to say, and it isn't likely to endear NI to those 'yummy mummies' - target readers of quality newspapers or online news sites? - Alton singled out. 
Maybe it should have been a case of least said, soonest mended. 



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