[MJR] The mighty Murdoch empire wobbles

07 May,2012

By Ranjona Banerji

 

The cycle of life and death is such a wicked thing, sparing no one, especially not the high and mighty (Thank god, really, for us who are not only low and but are also tiny – I’m speaking metaphorically here). And so the mighty Murdoch empire wobbles.

 

The Leveson inquiry into media ethics last month and the British parliamentary committee report after an inquiry into Rupert Murdoch’s companies released last week after last year’s inquiry commission both highlight that fall. The parliamentary report indeed calls Murdoch senior “unfit” to run his companies, although the Conservative party members of the commission would not endorse that. The irony for British politicians is that both the Labour and Conservative parties can be accused of getting too close to the Murdochs and their editors.

 

From the time he bought the Sun and then venerable Times, Murdoch has been a figure of controversy. His disdain for journalists and senior editors was applauded by media moghuls elsewhere as a fine way to treat employees (India’s journalists have also suffered from the Murdoch effect). Murdoch sacked, moved and reduced journalists everywhere to paid hacks, only capable of doing what he assigned them.

 

At the end, that became hacking into the voice mails of a murdered child’s mobile phone in order to sell more copies of a newspaper.

 

Murdoch has said he is sorry – inasmuch as he remembers anything at all. Although he does appear to recall a bit more than his son who saw and heard (and read) apparently almost nothing all the while that he ran the European branch of daddy’s company.

 

At a time when the Indian media is grappling with all sorts of issues and allegations, the Murdoch saga presents an interesting contrast. That Murdoch’s editors bent the rules and ignored media ethics is a certainty but it presents almost the exact opposite of the way that the Indian media operates. Can you imagine any Indian reporter – especially one involved in the glamour world – going to such depths to get a story? Hiring private investigators, bribing police officers – all this shows a commitment to newsgathering that most Indian newspapers had given up and many journalists would faint at the idea of so much hard work. (So much easier to let the PR person write the story which his client has paid the marketing department for.) I am not sure how many would object to the ethical problems raised since we have our own monsters to deal with.

 

Meanwhile it’ll be interesting to watch as the vultures start circling around.

 

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