Thursday, July 21, 2011
This is a telling observation about Rupert Murdoch. He apologized but he took no responsibility. One might ask what responsibility Murdoch took for keeping a newspaper that trafficked in scandal and for which there was never an excuse for failing to get the juiciest details about others. Murdoch condoned the culture that his newspapers fostered and for that he should shoulder the burden. Lest one be too censorious, however, it wasn't that many decades ago that reporters acted on the edge of and over the edge of legality in their chase of scoops. The Front Page was written by former Chicago reporters who knew how the media worked. And, of course, it has been pointed out that Woodward and Bernstein edged over the line in their chase of the Watergate story. This is not to justify the phone hacking that Murdoch's reporters engaged in but to put it in perspective. Someone in command did not let ethics get in the way of scoops and that attitude filtered throughout the newsroom. For that reason, Murdoch is getting what he deserves. From a PR perspective, it is a warning to practitioners that culture can rot quickly if leadership fails to pay attention to it. One can never assume that employees will always act in right ways. There is evil in the world.