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Note to staff from News Corp’s Rupert Murdoch in full

February 17th, 2012 | No Comments | Posted by in Business, Journalism, Newspapers

The note from News Corporation chairman Rupert Murdoch to staff, which announces the due launch of the Sun on Sunday and the lifting of suspensions, in full:

Dear colleagues:

I’ve worked alongside you for 43 years to build The Sun into one of the world’s finest papers. It is a part of me and is one of our proudest achievements.  The Sun occupies a unique and important position within News Corporation.

I have immense respect for our heritage, your exceptional journalism and, above all, you, the talented women and men who work tirelessly every day to ensure our readers have access to such a trusted news source. I believe this newsroom is full of great journalists and I remain grateful for your superb work and for the stories you uncover to inform and protect the public. None more so than over the last three weeks.

My continuing respect makes this situation a source of great pain for me, as I know it is for each of you.

We will obey the law.  Illegal activities simply cannot and will not be tolerated – at any of our publications. Our Board of Directors, our management team and I take these issues very seriously.

Our independently chaired Management & Standards Committee, which operates outside of News International, has been instructed to cooperate with the police. We will turn over every piece of evidence we find — not just because we are obligated to but because it is the right thing to do.

We are doing everything we can to assist those who were arrested — all suspensions are hereby lifted until or whether charged and they are welcome to return to work. News Corporation will cover their legal expenses.  Everyone is innocent unless proven otherwise.

I made a commitment last summer that I would do everything I could to get to the bottom of our problems and make this Company an example to Fleet Street of ethical journalism. We will continue to ensure that all appropriate steps are taken to protect legitimate journalistic privilege and sources, which I know are essential for all of you to do your jobs. But we cannot protect people who have paid public officials.

I am confident we can live by these commitments and still produce great journalism.

We will build on The Sun’s proud heritage by launching The Sun on Sunday very soon. Our duty is to expand one of the world’s most widely read newspapers and reach even more people than ever before.

Having a winning paper is the best answer to our critics.

I am even more determined to see The Sun continue to fight for its readers and its beliefs. I am staying with you all, in London, for the next several weeks to give you my unwavering support.

I am confident we will get through this together and emerge stronger.

Thank you,

Rupert Murdoch

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BBC 5 Live: Kavanagh says Sun police investigation is ‘wildly disproportionate’ to potential offences

February 13th, 2012 | No Comments | Posted by in Legal, Newspapers, Press freedom and ethics

In a series of interviews to UK broadcast media today, Trevor Kavanagh, associate editor at the Sun, criticised what he sees as police heavy-handedness during the dawn arrests of key Sun staff over the weekend.

In the above clip, Kavanagh gives his most controversial interview of the day to BBC Radio 5 Live’s Richard Bacon, criticising both the police operation and News Corporation’s own investigation by its Management Standards Committee. “There’s never been a bigger crisis than this [at the Sun]“, Kavanagh tells Bacon.

Here’s the full transcript:

RB: “Trevor Kavanagh told me earlier about the atmosphere in the Sun news room.”

TK: “Well despondent I would say and a feeling of being under siege I suppose.”

RB: [paraphrase] Re: Rupert Murdoch planning to fly in later this week – will he face a hostile newsroom?

TK: “Well I think the newsroom is full of people who feel deeply unhappy about the way that their colleagues, who they worked alongside for sometimes decades and who they respect and admire as supremely professional operators, have ended up being arrested, searched, put on police bail and suspended from their duties and so there is a huge amount of anger at the fact that this has happened. And, as I would point out, not a single one of them has been charged, let alone tried or convicted.”

RB: “Do some people at the Sun feel as though their parent company has hung them out to dry a bit?”

TK: “Well there’s certainly a mood of unhappiness that the company’s proudly, certain parts of the company, not News International I hasten to add, not the newspaper side of the operation, are actually boasting that they’re sending information to the police which would put these people I’ve just described into police cells.”

RB: “Forgive me, I know the structure of the company is quite complex, when you refer to another bit of the company, what does that mean, what are you talking about?”

TK: “Well there is a parent company, News Corporation, and that has set up this management committee to look into the evidence, the documentary evidence and so on, if there is any, against any members of staff. Now I think it’s fair to say that we are not opposed to the fact, that we are co-operating with the police, that’s what we should be doing and I think that if we are to get through this we need to provide them with all the co-operation we can. I think that perhaps what we best do is if we left them go through the evidence and found out what they can.”

RB: “That word ‘boasting’, what do you mean by that?”

TK: “Well I meant that when the arrests were made it was made clear that they had been arrested on the basis of evidence provided by this management committee.”

RB: “Are you saying that they shouldn’t have provided that evidence, they should have let the police come for that evidence?”

TK: “Well I think that, I don’t know how it works frankly but it does make us feel, make people in the company feel, that evidence which as of far as we know, I have to point this out, that on the basis of the evidence that’s been suggested to those who have been arrested so far, is pretty flimsy stuff. I can’t describe it in any further detail than that but it doesn’t really stand close scrutiny and people are wondering what on earth is happening.”

RB: “A lot of the evidence has come from the parent company now. It gets complex because I know that a lot of emails have been handed over. These are emails that were thought to be missing and now have been recovered and there’s something like I think 11 million of them. When you say the evidence is flimsy are you saying you more or less know exactly what evidence the police have at the moment?”

TK: “No I don’t and I’m not going to go any further into what evidence may or may not be available.”

RB: “Why do you say it’s flimsy then if you don’t know?”

TK: “Well because I have been told what the police have been asking about and those, you see the people that have been arrested have been told why they have been arrested and on the basis of that I would say that the evidence is flimsy. What other evidence is about I simply don’t know but my point today is that this police operation is wildly disproportionate with what might be the potential offences that may or may not have been committed.”

RB: “How many police are involved in this investigation?”

TK: “You have 171 officers who are involved in three separate investigations and this is the biggest single police operation in the history of British policing. It is bigger than the operation on the Pan Am Lockerbie bombing, it’s far, far bigger, totally dwarfs the operation on Milly Dowler and nobody’s died, nobody’s committed any hideous offences that I’m aware of or even been suggested as having committed such offences. It does seem to me wildly disproportionate that these police officers are raiding people’s homes with up to 20 officers at a time, ransacking their homes, going through their personal possessions, carting off sacks of paper after a dawn raid. It’s completely out of proportion.”

RB: “Why do you think it’s got here, why do you think that the operation is on such a scale, is it partly about the police trying to recover their own reputation do you think?”

TK: “I suspect that’s the case, they feel that they’ve lost a police commissioner and a deputy police commissioner and they now want to make it abundantly clear that they aren’t going to leave a single stone, floorboard, drawer, cupboard, Kellogg’s cornflake packet or any other part of a household untouched in their hunt for evidence that may or may not exist.”

RB: “Do you think the investigation would be smaller if News International had been more co-operative with the initial phone-hacking allegations?”

TK: “Well that may or may not be the case but this is not the point, the point is that as we speak 30 journalists have been suspended from their jobs, their careers may have been ruined by this and their families have been shocked and appalled by dawn raids by people acting I think in a disproportionate way when I think a polite knock on the door, perhaps after a phone call, would have unearthed precisely the same so-called evidence. I don’t know whether it’s evidence or simply other pieces of paper that’s in every household.”

RB: “But when I say co-operative in the first place I think that’s an important point because initially the company said it was all down to one individual and that turned out not to be true and they misled parliament, they misled the public, then they said these 11 million emails had gone missing whilst being transferred to the Middle East and now 11 million have been recovered. But News International may have played its own part in the police investigation being of this scale.”

TK: “Well that’s for you to suggest and it’s…”

RB: “I don’t know that Trevor…”

TK: “Let me finish my sentence…”

RB: “OK”.

TK: “It may well be the case I don’t know, I’m not involved in any of that side of things and what you have to remember is that if indeed we were misjudging things or getting them wrong completely even, we have already paid a pretty heavy price for that have we not? We have had to close one of the biggest newspapers and the oldest and one of the best newspapers in the country and 300 excellent journalists have paid the price. Now, I think that we were talking earlier about the witch-hunt and I think that the view of those who are out to get us in this witch-hunt is that nothing will satisfy them until News International has gone altogether.”

RB: “Who are those people Trevor, who do you think really is out to get the company?”

TK: “Well I think one person quite clearly is Tom Watson, I don’t think he would deny it but I don’t want to go into any further detail about who… I mean you and others can easily decide who you think might fit the bill but when you have an operation as disproportionate as this you have to wonder what they’re up to, and why.”

RB: “And I guess just finally Trevor with the story about Rupert Murdoch flying back in this week to face his hostile newsroom do you think there is any chance at all that the Sun itself could go the way of the News of the World and get closed down?”

TK: “No. I think that the Sun is a paper that if it hadn’t been invented you would have to re-invent it then. I think that the fact is this is a great newspaper, it’s loved by millions, it’s even loved occasionally by the BBC. I think the idea of losing a paper of this sort would surely be the ultimate disproportionate act would it not?”

RB: “Mmm. It’s very successful as well isn’t it? It’s one of the few newspapers left that makes a lot of money I think as well.”

TK: “It is, it’s successful for a very good reason, it’s successful because it breaks great stories, it’s successful because it represents its readers’ interests. It’s successful because it has a vigour and a lifestyle and a life force which resonates through this country. It is the greatest newspaper in this country.”

RB: “By the way the journalists that were arrested, are they back at work?”

TK: “They’ve been suspended.”

RB: “Yeah, OK. Trevor, thank you…”

TK: “Indefinitely I have to say without any prospect of knowing when any further action is going to be taken, if any.”

RB: “Is that the right call by the Sun to suspend them or do you think that’s a bit harsh?”

TK: “Well I think that, I don’t think there’s much choice once this has happened but you know it’s hard for people like me who have worked alongside people we admire and respect for, in my case, nearly 40 years with the Sun, to see them languishing at home, frustrated and unable to do anything to defend themselves and I feel very sorry for them and I know it’s causing them and their families a great deal of anguish.”

RB: “I’m sure that’s right. I didn’t realise you’d been with the paper for 40 years, did you ever see the newspaper at a lower ebb than this, have you ever been through a bigger crisis than this at the Sun?”

TK: “There’s never been a bigger crisis than this.”

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News International to launch Sunday version of the Sun on 29 April, sources say

January 27th, 2012 | No Comments | Posted by in Journalism, Newspapers

Sean Dempsey/PA

News International is planning to launch a Sunday version of its popular UK tabloid newspaper the Sun on 29 April, sources have told Journalism.co.uk.

Staff have been secretly working on the new publication since January and it is believed some former News of the World employees (casual and/or full-time) are involved.

News International has declined to comment. After Journalism.co.uk tweeted about the planned launch date last night, the Telegraph’s home news reporter Matthew Holehouse also tweeted that News International would neither “confirm or deny”.

On Monday MP Tom Watson tweeted that a source had told him a “Sunday Sun” was due for launch in April:

Update: Journalism.co.uk heard late on Friday (27 January) that the launch date is to be brought forward.

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Bloomberg: News Corp’s The Daily averaging 120,000 readers a week

September 29th, 2011 | No Comments | Posted by in Newspapers, Online Journalism

Bloomberg reported late on Wednesday (28 September) that News Corporation’s iPad-only newspaper the Daily has been averaging around 120,000 readers a week, said to be “less than a quarter of the number the company said it needs to make money”.

The figures came from advertising executive working with the publication.

News Corp., whose Chief Executive Officer Rupert Murdoch personally introduced the publication about eight months ago, may have even fewer paying subscribers since people can read the Daily free for two weeks. The 120,000 figure is for so-called unique weekly visitors, which includes people who pay and those who don’t, said John Nitti, executive vice president of Publicis Groupe SA (PUB)’s media-buying division Zenith Optimedia.

Bloomberg adds that Murdoch had said in February the publication, which was launched in February, would need 500,000 subscribers “to break even”.

Read the Bloomberg report here.

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Financial Times: James Murdoch’s spokesperson resigned amid phone-hacking scandal

September 27th, 2011 | No Comments | Posted by in Editors' pick, PR

The Financial Times has reported that “one of James Murdoch’s closest advisers” has resigned. Alice Macandrew was Murdoch’s spokesperson but reportedly handed her notice in back in July.

She becomes one of the first senior executives to quit News Corp voluntarily over disagreements with the company’s approach, which saw the publisher contest phone-hacking lawsuits brought by celebrities and other public figures in 2010 and early 2011 and close the News of the World in July.

News Corporation has declined to comment.

Read the full report here (requires registration).

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Phone hacking: Harbottle & Lewis authorised to respond to MPs and police questions

News Corporation has confirmed that law firm Harbottle & Lewis has been authorised to respond to questions from the Metropolitan police and select committees on the phone-hacking case.

The firm was featured in a number of questions from MPs during the culture, media and sport select committee on Tuesday, when News Corporation boss Rupert Murdoch, his son James and former News International chief executive Rebekah Brooks were asked about a file of emails, said to form part of the Harbottle & Lewis review, and the contents of which were said by Brooks to “put a new light” on information in the case later on.

Giving evidence, James Murdoch, chairman of News International, said the company engaged a law firm to review a number of emails and that it offered its opinion on those.

What I do know is that the company rested on that, rested on the fact that the police told us that there was no new evidence and no reason for a new investigation, and rested on the opinion of the PCC that there was no new information and no reason to carry it further.

It was not until new evidence emerged from the civil litigations that were going on that the company immediately went to the police, restarted this, and the company has done the right thing in that respect.

Yesterday (20 July) the law firm said it was restricted from responding to some of the comments because of client confidentiality, but News Corporation’s management and standards committee (MSC) has since announced that News International has decided to authorise the law firm to answer questions from the Metropolitan police and select committees.

The MSC is authorised to co-operate fully with all relevant investigations and inquiries in the News of the World phone hacking case, police payments and all other related issues across News International, as well as conducting its own inquiries where appropriate

According to a report by the Financial Times the firm is now reviewing what can be said.

While lawmakers questioned why the e-mails Harbottle reviewed were not handed to police, the solicitors’ regulatory code says that a duty to report criminality can be overridden by client confidentiality, except where lawyers suspect that clients may go on to cause violent crime.

The law firm has not responded to a request for comment by Journalism.co.uk.

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Murdoch humble, but saved the spectacle of being forced to eat pie…

In case you missed it earlier, here’s the video clip of an attempted foam pie-ing of Rupert Murdoch during today’s culture, media and sport select committee at the House of Commons. The real star is Murdoch’s wife Wendi Deng whose lightning reaction ensured the assailant ended up with most of the foam on his own face.

Embedly Powered

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Peston: BSkyB board to decide on Murdoch stand-down by end of week

According to a blog post by the BBC’s business editor Robert Peston, the board of BSkyB is due to decide whether James Murdoch, chairman of News International, should stand down from his position.

According to a well-placed source, there is a growing view among the company’s non-executives that the burden for James Murdoch of “fighting the fires” at News Corporation – where he is in charge of European operations and is deputy chief operating officer – means that he will find it hard to devote enough time to chairing BSkyB, the largest media and entertainment company in the UK.

According to Peston, it is likely he will be asked to stand down temporarily, until News International “has been stabilised”.

But the Guardian seems to dispute this in its live blog on the phone hacking scandal. Reporter Lisa O’Carroll is quoted as saying that BSkyB had said “it did not expect James Murdoch to be pushed”.

It said it had “no specific comment” to make about claims by the BBC’s Robert Peston that the non-executives felt Murdoch was “fighting the fires” at News Corporation – where he is deputy chief operating officer.

A spokesman said there were no moves afoot on the make-up of the boardroom: “The company has a strong governance framework and there are no changes to the existing plans.”

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Rupert Murdoch’s newspaper ad apology

July 15th, 2011 | 2 Comments | Posted by in Newspapers, Press freedom and ethics

News International chairman James Murdoch announced this morning that the company would be placing a full-page apology in all of the national newspapers this weekend following two weeks of damning revelations about phone-hacking and corruption at the News of the World.

The apology is signed by James’ father Rupert, chairman of News Corporation. Here is an image text of the ad, via @TimGatt. Full text below.

 

Text:

We are sorry.

The News of the World was in the business of holding others to account. It failed when it came to itself.

We are sorry for the serious wrongdoing that occurred.

We regret not acting faster to sort things out,

I realise that simply apologising is not enough.

Our business was founded on the idea that free and open press should be a positive force in society. We need to live up to this.

In the coming days, as we take further concrete steps to resolve these issues and make amends for the damage they have caused, you will hear more from us.

Sincerely,

Rupert Murdoch.

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Jeremy Hunt considering impact of News of the World closure on BSkyB bid

In a statement today the Department for Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS) announced that culture secretary Jeremy Hunt is currently considering whether the announcement regarding the News of the World’s closure has any impact on the question of media plurality in relation to News Corporation’s bid for BSkyB.

The latest consultation on the bid closed at noon today. At the end of last month Hunt said he plans to give the takeover bid the go ahead, subject to a minor new consultation.

In a statement the DCMS said Hunt had “always been clear that he will take as long as is needed to reach a decision”.

The secretary of state will consider carefully all the responses submitted and take advice from Ofcom and the Office of Fair Trading before reaching his decision. Given the volume of responses, we anticipate that this will take some time. He will consider all relevant factors including whether the announcement regarding the News of the World’s closure has any impact on the question of media plurality.

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