A while back, the Murdoch’s News International phone hacking scandal was almost daily news. While it’s front page status has given way to the Olympics, a self-destructing euro zone and other matters, it still continues, especially with the recent news that some 230 additional claims will be filed. All one can conclude from this is the staggering depths to which the News of the World (NOTW) went to hack into peoples phones. No wonder James and Rupert Murdoch shut the paper down – there was much more going on than they wanted the public to know.
Here’s the latest from the Guardian:
News International is expected to face at least 230 new compensation claims from alleged victims of News of the World phone-hacking, including former England footballer Sol Campbell.
Other new claimants include former Atomic Kitten singer Kerry Katona, her ex husband Brian McFadden, formerly of boyband Westlife, and The Apprentice contestant Ruth Badger.
The names were revealed at a high court case-management conference overseen by Mr Justice Vos on Friday, during which it emerged that 68 new civil claims for phone-hacking damages have now been lodged.
Hugh Tomlinson, QC, representing phone-hacking victims, also told the high court that 395 people had now applied for disclosure of phone-hacking evidence from the Metropolitan police and up to 40 more claims were expected to be lodged by the deadline set by Vos of next Friday, 14 September.
Undoubtedly, the upcoming deadline is leading to a rush of last minute claims. And you wonder just how much of what was done will never see the light of day, through silence either bought through loyalty or intimidation.
But more importantly, I suspect the historical perspective on this entire episode will be brutal. As the traditional news media staggers through the onslaught of the digital revolution, News International will become a benchmark, much like the recent discovery of a fossil of a complete track of a horseshoe crab in its death march, which fell into the bottom of a lagoon where the anoxic conditions soon sucked out its life. Immortalized in a remarkable fossil, we now have a complete record of an ancient life form as it struggled for survival. Likewise, News International’s death is laid out for all to see, forever to stand as evidence of a dying industry that understood innovation only as the violation of peoples’ privacy, that saw itself above both the law and the environmental conditions in which it existed.
. As Dr. Nic Minter from the University of Saskatchewan, Canada, noted with the discovery of the fossil:
Discoveries such as this provide unique insights into the behaviour of extinct species – in this example during the last throes of its life and the environmental conditions that led to its demise.
Soon enough, we’ll be able to say the same of the entire news industry. News International took one – patently illegal – approach to survival. Others tried (or are trying) different tactics. But in the end, Murdoch’s paper only illustrates how the depth of the current media crisis has fostered in some an astonishing loss of integrity.