you're reading...

You better check your phone for bugs!

Last Wednesday I wrote about the news restriction in China. During my entire research I thought: “Thank god we don’t have to deal with that kind of stuff. News restriction is not possible in our western world.” But then I came across the “News of the World” scandal, that, how a BBC article from august states, led to “wider questions about press regulation, media ownership, the police, and relationships between politicians and journalists.”

The scandal arises

As some of you may have seen on the news, the British Sunday Newspaper “News of the World” (NoW) has admitted in April, that they have been illegally hacking into the voicemail messages of celebrities to fish for exclusive stories. The police have a list of about 4000 targets. They are very various: celebrities, sport stars, politicians and even victims of crime.

Some short facts: News of the World is a newspaper, from the American multinational media conglomerate „News Corporation“. The company´s chairman and CEO is Rupert Murdoch.

The BBC reports in a timeline that the hacking started around 2000, when Rebekah Brooks became a NoW editor. Until the downfall in July 2011 several editors and journalists used phone hacking to snatch a good story.

When selling copies is more important than a missing girl

The most shocking hunt for a good story happened in 2002. Some NoW reporters managed to hack into the phone of the missing 13 year old Amanda Dowler. They had access to her voicemail while she was reported missing. But instead of reporting this information to the police, they deleted some of her mailbox messages, so they could hear new incoming voicemails. The horrible thing is that they deleted also some key evidence that would have convicted Amanda´s kidnapper and murderer. (He got caught later though, and got a lifetime in jail, but still…) But not only that, they gave the her family false hope, since there was some activity on the girl´s phone the investigators and the family thought Amanda was still alive. What kind of people keep such crucial information from the police just to have an exclusive story? Shockingly Amanda Dowler wasn’t the only crime victim being bugged.

“The Guardian” and Nick Davies broke the scandal

In Early 2009 Nick Davies, a veteran “The Guardian” (TG) reporter, came to Alan Rusbridger (TG editor), to inform him he´d discovered that James Murdoch, the son and heir of the second most powerful private news-media company on earth, had done a secret deal to pay more than $1 million to cover up evidence of criminal behavior within the company, writes Rusbridger. Indeed some reporters and Editors were arrested, because of phone hacking before the scandal broke, but actually it was Davies who blew the lid off the phone-hacking scandal that drew enough bad publicity to eventually shutter the 168-year-old paper, comment Karlee Weinmann and Patricia Laya in the “Business Insider”. In 2010, before the crucial evidences came to light, Davies gave a very interesting Interview to the Journalist Robert Powell, that clarified, the importance and scope of the story he was onto. Take look:


“News of the World” dealt a huge blow to modern Media and News reports

Though many reporters, a private investigators, even some police officials and editors, e.g. Rebekah Brooks have resigned and some even got arrested, the scope of that scandal is enormous. Questions have been raised about the behavior and the journalistic methods of journalists of several other Newspapers like Daily and Sunday Mirror, Daily Record and People. Suspicions are various. But the scandal also prompts wider questions about press regulation and ethics, media ownership, the police, and relationships between politicians and journalists. As Davies has declared in the interview the power of such a huge News conglomerate is not to underestimate, since its grasp can reach into“heart of political power”.

Though the outrage of this affair is plausible, is a serious suggestion of news regulation adequate?


3 thoughts on “You better check your phone for bugs!

  1. This reads like a novel! Crazy sh*t with the girl and everything. But I think two pair of shoes have been mixed up: In China those regulations were realised largely without concret reason (suppression of individual freedoms, dictatorship and stuff). But what you describe up there is definitely a reason to recheck press regulations and especially safety in Europe. Good and traditional newspaper don´t let anybody publish their opinion without good argumentation and evidence (that´s at least what it has to be like). And I don´t think that conditions similar to China will ever be established in Europe, not to mention Germany (democracy). Interesting stories though.

    Posted by Pia | November 30, 2011, 1:06 pm
  2. hey pia, I absolutely agree with you. The Chinese conditions I described before are not possible in europe. But still, I think press regulations should not be an option. I rather think the methods how reporters get their information should be closer checked. But that could be seen as an interference in personal life. nevertheless it his unbelievable what this newspaper did and I think this scandal and its range pretty much show how powerful and widely crosslinked a news corporation can be. actually a little scary…

    Posted by anne | November 30, 2011, 1:36 pm
  3. Well written article, Anne! I really like that you chose that topic because there should be made additional emphasis on that particular problem! I am shocked that people decide not to rescue a human life. Overhearing personal voice mails is an immense problem of ignoring a person’s privacy but nevertheless if it occurs anyways and there is an obvious allusion to a crime especially when a life can be saved..people should react. I guess it is a problem of our present society that often prefers “to look away”.
    The other point I mentioned is the ignorance of a persons privacy is a serious issue and should be respected and not harmed just by any price. From my point of view it is actually a very sad story!

    Posted by vikii | November 30, 2011, 2:01 pm

Leave a Reply to anne Cancel reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: