Thursday, July 07, 2011

News of the Screws Screwed?

So, the News of the World is dead. Or will be, after this coming Sunday. But before all those people who organised advertising boycotts of the paper and the like start crowing about their 'victory', they should bear in mind that the organisation behind the whole phone hacking scandal is still very much alive. The closure of the News of the World is just another cynical tactical move by News International. It is quite obvious that they are hoping that by handing this apparent victory to their critics, it will bring the whole sorry business to a close and deflect attention from the real issue: the Murdoch empire's dominance of the British media. Before today's announcement, my fear was that, after a couple of weeks, all those advertisers and readers currently boycotting the News of the World, would simply drift back, having decided that they'd 'done their bit' with their symbolic protest, and it would be back to business as usual. Now, it seems, News International are hoping that this equally symbolic sacrifice will satisfy the baying hordes. And it might.

However, this whole story is about more than a group of 'rogue employees' at a single tabloid title - News International's current favoured narrative. Are we honestly supposed to believe that senior management at News International didn't know how one of their newspapers was getting its stories? At the very least, they created the environment in which journalists thought that it was OK to behave in this way - to Hell with ethics, just do whatever it takes to outsell the opposition and boost profits. The fact is that the evil continues. The closure of the News of the World is just a distraction. Now isn't the time for people to be congratulating themselves over this great 'victory'. Now is the time to be pressing on and taking the war to Murdoch. Trust me, the only way to defeat him is to stop buying his papers altogether - even that Sunday edition of the Sun which will inevitably replace the News of the World - and to cancel your Sky TV subscriptions. (I can be sanctimonious here, as I've never bought his papers or subscribed to Sky). Damn it, if we're really serious about cleaning up the press, we should form ourselves into an angry mob waving flaming torches, and storm 'Fortress Wapping', whilst shouting 'Kill the monster'. Sadly though, I'm sure that what will actually happen is that all those middle class revolutionaries who have been organising boycotts, will simply pat themselves on the back over their 'success', before going home and tuning in to Sky Movies or Sky Sports.

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