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News of the World dead, Rupert Murdoch news-model lives on

The news model employed by Rupert Murdoch’s 165-year-old tabloid will live beyond the publication’s recent demise, in papers and TV networks around the world, whether controlled by Murdoch or not. But has the Murdhoch model really rooted in Canada? 

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The final News of the World edition hit news stands July 10. Photo courtesy of Flickr user Gene Hunt.

"After 168 years, we finally say a sad but very proud farewell to our 7.5m loyal readers," reads the very last front page News of the World headline

But the now-defunct tabloid doesn’t really have anything to be proud of, does it?

They intercepted the voicemail messages of murder victims and tapped the phones of fallen soldiers in Afghanistan and maybe even the families of 9/11 victims.

Police arrested former News of the World editor Rebekah Brooks for her involvement in the phone hacking scandal and for alleged illegal payments to police officers, The Telegraph reported Sunday.

All this from a paper made successful not because of hard news or real public interest reporting, but from gossip and scandals.

So unrelenting is Rupert Murdoch's news model that even Canada, while not yet conquered by Murdoch himself, shows signs of adopting this poisonous method, one that prizes celebrity gossip and sex scandals above real news.

"There's nothing particularly special about Canadians that make us immune from the Murdoch model," said David Beers, founding editor of The Tyee, calling the model "a mixture of salacious gossip-mongering and positioning the reader as the victim of one supposed outrage after another, almost always perpetrated by government and never, conveniently, by large corporations."

"We need to remain vigilant by calling BS on the Murdoch model and seeking new ways to create and support independent media that does real public interest journalism," Beers said.

Murdoch meets Harper

The malicious and criminal acts of the News of the World journalists, alleged as they are, may be endemic in Murdoch’s news empire. Reporters from The Sun and the Sunday Times -- two other papers in the multibillion dollar media behemoth News International -- targeted former British prime minister Gordon Brown’s personal financial and property records, as well as his ailing son’s medical records, the Guardian reported.

But just how far do Murdoch's media tentacles reach? 

Murdoch’s News International spans Europe, Australia and -- with its acquisition of the Wall Street Journal -- America too. News International is subsequently owned by News Corporation, a media conglomerate that controls Fox Broadcasting Company and the associated Twentieth Century Fox Films, along with numerous other media-related ventures. 

Though the Murdoch empire is large, other than by proximity to Fox news outlets in the U.S. and the assorted papers he owns there, there is no Murdoch channel or paper in Canada.

But that’s not to say his influence stops at the border.

Canadian prime minister Stephen Harper met with Murdoch in New York, an event foreseen by Georgia Straight editor Charlie Smith in 2008.  

"Don't be surprised if Prime Minister Harper pays a quiet visit to Murdoch the next time Harper happens to pass through New York City, where Murdoch spends most of his time," Smith wrote.

Well meet they did, about a year after Smith published his prophetic blog post suggesting one way Murdoch might break into the Canadian market would be through a Canwest buy-out, but only after some serious political lobbying -- the sort that involves off the books meetings with a prime minister.

As it turned out, Shaw Communications, a Canadian company, bought the financially floundering Canwest instead.

The media mogul’s political meddling is well documented, having reportedly met with former British prime minister Tony Blair ahead of his decision to support the U.S. invasion of Iraq.

"Mr. Murdoch routinely meets with politicians," writes conservative commentator Tasha Kheiriddin, in an open letter at the National Post. "He granted US President Barack Obama an audience in 2008... Mr. Murdoch has also met with other politicians, including former Australian PM Kevin Rudd and current UK PM David Cameron," she writes.

"Fox News North"

The Harper-meets-Murdoch story matters because even though there is no Fox news in Canada, there is a "Fox News North," the name commonly given to Sun News Network, a new Quebecor Media Inc. 24-hour conservative news channel that hit the airwaves in April.

The network earned the alternative titles "Fox News North" and "Tory TV" before its first broadcast due to the right-wing content many expected to see there.

(2) Comments

Damning the Smug July 17th 2011 | 7:19 PM

Oh, good grief.

It's called 'freedom of the press", VO. If an outlet like Sun Media does something really stupid, it will be outed, as per the "Murdoch Model". And is insuating that the PM is involved, as per the "petition" stated above, the best journalism you can muster? If this is a example of the highest standards of the digital press, kill me now.

As for Mr. Nagata's rant, he could have stayed and pushed his story ideas, as more mature types might do. While the 'Will and Kate' show was not everyone's cup of tea, it actually defined its newsworthiness by it's brevity. Call it a "special event".

I for one, would have dearly loved to see Mr. Nagata back up his rant with a particular opinion about events in Bangkok, Misrata, Athens, Washington, but alas, we were not to experience his take on what was happening in those places.

Perhaps he should go over to the print side of the ledger and give that a flutter, or will he say that the stain of oversimplification has sullied the msm over there, too?

Or, he may want to continue his education in journalism and take in 'Page One', the terrific movie about the trials and tribulations over at the New York Times. Luckily, that paper ended up with a ballsy executive and reporters that pushed back against the beancounters and naysayers who were rubbing their hands in glee at the mere thought of the paper's death. Young Nagata, take notes on a REAL rant from Times reporter David Carr, who has the balls, tenacity and in-your-face approach that achieves real results--rather than the victimization that you seem intent on fostering.

A guy like Mr. Carr, who used to be a junkie, and knows a few things about street-fighting, who's had some real life experiences, who can out-game everyone and who argues cogently from within, is worth 10 fresh-out-of-Ryerson rookies who can't make their world-view manifest  or whinge about the situation. Instead of fighting for what you believe, Mr. Nagata, you've taken your I-Pad, hackey-sack and marbles, and gone home.

The Times itself took on the Tribune Group's executive, who ran several great papers into the ground with their wn Murdochian world view. So, I guess the msm is pretty capable of monitoring some of it's more egregious peers. Look out, M. Peladeau!

As for all the  "independent", 'alternative' news outlets in the digital world, as described here, please. While I appeciate that Dave Beers over at the Tyee (and, I am guessing the VO) think he present an 'alternative' to the msm, I would certainly hesitate to call either esteemed organ "independent". No, proprietors at all media outlets have their pet politicians, their pet causes, etc. You are no more fair and balanced than some of the msm outlets you drone on about.

I would say, in fact, that many times you are worse: while you may not be making the kind of money that horrifies you, you do create your own coin of the realm, catering to your own world view and supporters, who in turn support you. You show no more inherent "fairness" than any other outlet. That you cloak yourself in the self righteous language of the higher purpose people doesn't make you any cleaner than a Murdoch.

It just makes you bigger hypocrites.

PS. Do go to "Page One", and take all the staff with you. And watch David Carr carve up the digital guys at a panel discussion. You need the msm--because you re-purpose their work---they at least use some resources to put boots on ground and come up with facts, versus the oped drivel in your piece above.

 

 

 

linda's picture
linda July 20th 2011 | 5:17 PM

I think you meant to say, "if you haven't already seen  Page One"...I was at the preview and it's a great documentary.  But just because VO and the Tyee are digital doesn't mean either re-purpose material from other news organizations.  We don't.  Neither does The Tyee.  The Tyee works unbelivably hard to raise money to create funds to pay for in-depth reporting about a wide range of reporting and VO relies on ad sales for revenue to do the same.  Plus, VO is lucky to have a large number of bloggers from the community who can write well and who are able to speak to a wide variety of issues.  We've published more than 6,000 original stories and every day, we publish 5-10 original stories.

VO's material is often re-purposed by larger news organizations while, outside of drawing from The Canadian Press national news feed for our national news reporting, 99% of our material is original.  All of our resources go into hiring reporters, paying freelancers and running operations, which we do on a relative shoestring.  Our mission is to create original material. 

In Page One Carr was critical of sites that aggregate the news, like the Huffington Post or Newsr.  That's a whole different business model.

David Carr is a fantastic reporter and an amazing writer and The Times breaks ground every day online. 

But what is your point, really? Your beef is with Nagata? VO? Tyler Harbottle, who authored this piece?

David Carr had to crash and burn before he became what he was.  Maybe Nagata does, too.  Meanwhile, he's writing about it.

Tyler Harbottle is a UBC journalism student talented enough to give context to complex events in the media world.

I really hate reading extensive irate comments, like yours, and then seeing that they're anonymous.  Who are you?  Where are you coming from?

If you feel so strongly about what you're saying, why don't you put your name to your opinions and let's have a civilized debate?