The hacking scandal at the late News Of The World is spreading wider and wider bringing members of the Metropolitan Police, Number 10, and all parts of Murdoch’s News Corporation into the spotlight. As tabloids across the UK are rumoured to be shredding paper at a rapid pace and MPs are accusing other tabloids of hacking, the centralised content and advertising management system used by most if not all News Corporation newspapers and media companies means that the poisonous stories found by the private investigator Glenn Mulcaire for the NOTW may have been utilized by any of Murdoch’s media outlets.
According to a story from an ex-News Corp employee at the DailyKos most of the 140+ of News Corp’s newspapers use a shared global news paper production system – an economy of scale that helps reduce costs in the struggling industry.
The editorial process is global. For purposes of beating the competition to a scoop, unified messaging “being on message” as New Labor put it, and for commercial synergy.
That would be fine if the stories were legally gathered, but when they are not as in this hacking affair, then those illegally sourced stories may have found their way into any of the papers including such titles as The Times and the Wall Street Journal (WSJ) which may otherwise have been considered above such practices. Centralised and cloud technologies can vastly improve collaboration and reduce costs, but at the same time once poison enters the system it can quickly infiltrate each previously independent body. These hacking allegations have already spread from the NOTW to The Sun and The Sunday Times, but there is a possibility that they may go much wider.
The scandal has also brought greater scrutiny to all of Murdoch’s companies worldwide and their respective business practices. In the US News America Marketing, a News Corporation company, is reported to have hacked into the website of their competitor Floorgraphics in order to steal confidential information such as client lists and projections in order to crush their competition according to a story in The Guardian which has been leading the whole hacking coverage. On top of that, Fox News, the right-wing political mouthpiece, is reported to have built a “black-ops room” for just such legally grey area news gathering activities according to a fascinating story in Rolling Stone Magazine a couple of months ago. The whole culture of getting a story at any cost and rewarding those that will step over the line with promotions appears to stretch across the globe within the Murdoch empire.
To further complicate matters, and no doubt “just for the lulz”, infamous hacking group LulzSec have also now become involved in the story after hacking The Sun website to temporarily redirect to their Twitter feed. During the hack they also have claimed to have obtained a cache of emails and are now going to release them via a drip feed to certain media outlets. This is the first time the hacker group have not just released entire caches as file dumps, and is possible that they are withholding some so that News Corporation employees will make statements to the public and police before they release emails showing the contrary – a method that would certainly cause the most pain to Murdoch and his executives.