Just a short while ago Rupert Murdoch closed down The News of The World in the aftermath of the phone hacking scandal. The antipodean old dodger looked a broken man in front of the camera’s and subsequently the Parliamentary Select Committee. When he said it was the worst time of his life and that he was truly sorry I pretty much believed him. When I say believed him, I mean that I thought he had finally been forced to see the damage to real lives caused by an under managed and out of control tabloid press and he knew it was just plain wrong.
So although I had little sympathy for him, I thought that his motives for closing the paper were at least partly well motivated. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not stupid, clearly with such a damaged brand advertisers would be running in the opposite direction, and to salvage some crumbs of credibility for the overall image of News International it was a sensible business decision to close the paper. But I did think that there was a small part of Mr Murdoch that realised the paper had to close for ethical reasons as well.
How stupidly naïve of me, I see that now of course.
Less than a year later we are to witness the birth of the Sun on Sunday. No need to explain what the paper will stand for or where it will fit into the pantheon of news choice already on offer, we know exactly what type of content will grace its pages. Not that my problem is the content, just making the point that we are unlikely to see Pulitzer Prizes in the Head office trophy cabinet, it’s another tabloid, just like the old tabloid. The motivation for publishing is not to fill a new gap in any market or bring fresh new insights into anything, it’s simply to generate revenue and market share lost when the NOTW closed last year.
How can News International justify a re-launch now and still say that they fully understand the distress they caused and wrong doing they allowed and that they understand what they must do to make amends?
So what? Well I have a huge problem with the ‘new’ Murdoch offspring, because it isn’t new at all, it’s the News of The World with a different title, and that’s just wrong!
No decent amount of time has passed since the demise of the NOTW, certainly not enough time to pay respect to families like the Dowler’s or those of deceased soldiers that may have had their phones hacked, not even nearly enough time.
Rupert Murdoch presumably doesn’t understand this, or if he does then he doesn’t care. He’s lost 9 months of newspaper and advertising sales, he’s said sorry, faced the music, and there’s nothing remotely illegal in what he’s doing, so he can now start up the machinery and get on with the job of recouping that lost market share.
However long might have passed since the NOTW closed last July, the actual proper Sun is currently facing investigations of the most serious kind. How can News International justify a re-launch now and still say that they fully understand the distress they caused and wrong doing they allowed and that they understand what they must do to make amends? How can re-launching the same old ‘tits and vicars in love tryst triangle’ tabloid possibly make amends?
He’s allowed to do it of course, but what does it say about him as a person and the corporate culture at News International? Can they not see that sometimes something permissible under the law is still just wrong to do?
It goes further than that. No doubt the Murdoch’s have done their homework and built the business plan. They will know pretty accurately what kind of advertising revenues they can expect, they will have sounded out the big players, tested the water to see if those advertisers with the big bucks are still squeamish about associating themselves with a tainted brand. Apparently those advertisers have got over their distress because Murdoch wouldn’t be launching if he thought the ad revenue wouldn’t be forthcoming. What does that say about the corporate culture of the advertisers?
How can re-launching the same old ‘tits and vicars in love tryst triangle’ tabloid possibly make amends?
But hang on! Why are the advertisers saying they’ll place their ads with the new Sun on Sunday? Because they too have done their research and they know that we the public will be buying the paper!
So as much as we could all probably agree that it’s pretty insensitive to be launching this paper right now, and that it may well show that Mr Murdoch is not as contrite as he would have us believe, knowing all of this we’re going to go out and buy it anyway. Because our desire to see a grainy picture of some minor celebs nipple slip, taken with from 2 miles away with a camera with the resolution of the Hubble Telescope, is greater than any vague thought we might have that it could be as morally wrong for us to read the paper as it is for Murdoch to publish it.
And what’s worse is that he knows it. He knows we’re all just a great bunch of hypocrites. And we know that he knows, and furthermore he knows that we know that he knows. We all know. But on Sunday we’ll shrug our shoulders and pop down to the newsagent just to have a look at what this new papers like, we’ll read about which footballer is doing what pop star, and we’ll pretend that it’s all terrible what the tabloids do, but nothing to do with us.
But, really, we know different.
Don’t buy the Sun on Sunday, it’s wrong.
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