Friday, July 10, 2009

Real Journalists, Not Bloggers, Break The Big, Important Stories...Particularly Those Big Stories About Other Journalists

Murdoch Spying Scandal Erupts, Thousands Had Phones Hacked, Millions Paid Out To Hush It All Up

By Darryl Mason

I got a bit carried away last weekend bagging out ex-Australian Rupert Murdoch's News Limited chairman, John Hartigan, for his attack on bloggers, and independent online news media.

John Hartigan said that bloggers and independent news sites, like Crikey and Mumbrella, can't really compete with the Old Media because they can't afford to pay investigative journalists to break the stories that matter :
Our job is to tell many people what few people know. That takes lots of resources – newsrooms of two and three hundred people. If we can’t afford them, important stories won’t get told.

It might mean that those in power and those with influence can avoid the scrutiny and accountability that keeps them in check.
Hartigan cited the recent UK MP Expenses Scandal as a big story that could only be properly uncovered and investigated by paid journalists working for a professional news operation.

John Hartigan is 100% right. We do need well-paid professional journalists to break the big stories that keep the powerful in check and to hold "those with influence" to account.

After all, look at the amazing, huge, monumental story that the professional investigative journalist Nick Davies, working for the UK Guardian, has uncovered (excerpts) :
What we've uncovered is systematic activity by Rupert Murdoch's journalists....using illegal techniques of one kind or another to uncover information.

One bunch of illegal techniques is to do with using private investigators to do what's called "blagging" - that's conning their way into confidential databases, things like your bank statements, credit card statements, itemised telephone bills, tax records, all that kind of stuff.

That's all illegal and they've been doing it. And the second kind of illegal activity is using private investigators to do what's called "phone hacking", which just means that they can get into other people's mobile telephone networks and hear messages which have been left on the target's mobile phone.

....there was clear evidence of News of the World journalists, including a middle ranking executive, handling the raw material that was coming through from these intercepts. understanding is that that paperwork shows us that the News of the World were hacking the phones of 2,000 or 3,000 public figures of one kind or another.

(the police) didn't pursue charges against the Murdoch journalists. And I don't know the answers to these questions, but it raises the worrying possibility....that the police at New Scotland Yard didn't want to get into a fight with powerful Rupert Murdoch...he's politically very powerful. begin to get this alarming picture of the newspaper groups drifting beyond the reach of the law because they're just too powerful.
The above quotes from Nick Davies are from an interview by Mark Colvin, of ABC's PM. You can listen to the interview here (full transcript as well). Davies is very excited, because he knows just how big this story is going to become. Already has become.

In a particularly bad piece of news for Rupert Murdoch, the story has already been picked up by the financial media, who are reporting that police are now investigating his journalists in the UK.

While that kind of news grabbing headlines in the financial media might seem bad enough, there are Wall Street brokers right now trying to find out the exact size of the payouts Murdoch's UK tabloids have already been forced to hand over to only a few victims of this corrupt, rotten-to-the-core corporate spying scandal.

The figure for payouts to victims, so far, is a couple of million in total, meaning some received at least a few hundred thousand dollars to shut the fuck up and go away. A few million already paid out to a few victims. But brokers will be touting up what this scandal may ultimately cost Murdoch if all the 2000 to 3000 victims of his journalists' hacking and spying all decide to sue for payouts at least the size of those already awarded in out of court settlements.

What figure are those brokers and stock analysts coming up with? $US800 million? $US1 billion? More?

Below is a screen grab of how Rupert Murdoch's Australian media portal,, first ran with the story, yesterday. It'll be interesting to see how Murdoch's Australian journos cover this story as it continues to unfold. This scandal will, and should, shake the Murdoch empire to its core, particularly since Rupert Murdoch himself has denied knowing anything about the millions already paid out to victims of this corrupt, outrageous spying scandal :

Like most of the bloggers so despised by John Hartigan, I sure can't afford to hire private investigators to hack into the phones of thousands of people and supply me with transcripts of their private lives so I can provide all of you with 'Breaking News' and 'Exclusives' of the kind that some Murdoch journalists are able to come up with.

So yeah, Hartigan was right, and I was wrong. Independent bloggers can't compete with the kind of journalists that Murdoch likes to employ, because we sure as fuck don't have the dollars to compile files of the private conversations and personal messages and financial details of thousands of people.

Then again, who would want to compete, or even be compared to, corrupt, intelligence gathering scumbags like that?

The Old Media Eats Itself Alive

NOTE : This story will get a whole lot more interesting, devastatingly so, if it turns out that Rupert Murdoch himself was being fed details of what was uncovered in all that hacking and surveillance by his journalists, considering one of those many thousands being spied upon was then UK deputy prime minister John Prescott.