WSJ Takes Swipes at News Corp’s Detractors in Bold Op-Ed

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Washington Post writer Paul Farhi looks at the tangled web of media conflicts involved in the News of the World hacking scandal. In a nutshell: Rupert Murdoch’s News Corp. publications have been under-reporting the story; his rivals have been over-reporting the story. Farhi calls it the “second narrative” of the story.

And what a secondary narrative it is.

The Wall Street Journal puts the story at the top of its front page and prints two more pages inside, including a sidebar story that essentially reads like one last ditch effort to save the reputation of Rebekah Brooks. The Journal goes on at length to explain that getting arrested in Britain isn’t as serious as getting arrested in the US, because sometimes arrests happen without charges.

If that weren’t enough there’s also a stunning editorial, in which the Wall Street Journal tries to take on every criticism of it and its parent company. Tall order. In the process, the Journal describes Fleet Street as the home of the blind-quote single source story; it takes a shot at the New York Times for building up the Wikileaks story (“The Schadenfreude is so thick you can’t cut it with a chainsaw. Especially redolent are lectures about journalistic standards from publications that give Julian Assange and WikiLeaks their moral imprimatur.”); it pats News Corp on the back for rescuing the Wall Street Journal from the Bancroft family (“We shudder to think what the Journal would look like today without the sale to News Corp.”); it accuses other US news organizations of checkbook journalism (“The Wall Street Journal doesn’t pay sources for information, but the practice is common elsewhere in the press, including in the U.S..”; and it asks why other news organizations would ever welcome a congressional or parliamentary inquiry into news-gathering techniques.

Whew. Tell us how you really feel. 

The Journal’s editorial is a shockingly different approach than the one Murdoch used on the other side of the pond. He issued full-page ads in all of his British papers—The Times, The Sun, The Guardian, The Financial Times, The Independent, The Daily Mail, and The Daily Telegraph with one simple message: We are sorry.



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