Monday, 11 July 2011

We shall never see its like again

What was Rebekah Brooks thinking about on September 11th 2001? The Telegraph has acquired cassette tapes which give us some insight:

 A few hours after the attack on the World Trade Centre, I was asked by Rebekah to dress up as Harry Potter. She wanted me to dress up and go to her office in the middle of the newsroom.
SK: Which date was that?
CB: That was on Tuesday, September 11. It was the afternoon, less than three hours after [the attacks]. I went into her office and Andy [Coulson, the deputy editor] was on the sofa and Rebekah was on the phone. Andy asked me where was my Harry Potter suit and I made some excuse, saying: it's not here, it's in the photo studio. [Actually], it was in the office, but it was hardly appropriate for a journalist to be prancing about as Harry Potter. Andy told me I should always have my Harry Potter gear around, in case of a Harry Potter emergency, and told me that the morning after, I was to dress up for conference as Harry Potter. So, at that time, [when] we were working on the assumption that up to 50,000 people had been killed, I was required to parade myself around morning conference, dressed as Harry Potter.
GM: I have told you that this is not going to be held against you. Charles, you should think very seriously about coming in on Tuesday.
CB: Well, to be frank, Greg, as far as my future at News International is concerned, I haven't toed the line for the editor's pet project. I didn't prance around while the World Trade Centre was being bombed, for her personal amusement. I can't just stroll in.
GM: Why not? Charles, that is what we do - we go out and destroy other people's lives. 

Wow. So this is the kind of campaigning investigative journalism which various Murdoch representatives have told us will be lost with the demise of the News of the World.

Hang your heads, carping Britons, hang your heads.


Anonymous said...

I'm not a big fan of NOTW (although I bought it for a few months for a bit of 'light' Sunday reading), but, surely it's not a good thing to lose a British newspaper. That threatens media plurality just in itself, regardless of the dubious ethics of NOTW. What right does NI have to kill of a paper they held for only 42 of its 168 year history. A financial right, of course, but a newspaper shouldn't be sacrificed to assist the business interests of a company. I feel this has been overlooked by the press in their writings over the last few days.

The Plashing Vole said...

Anonymous, I feel your pain.
However: newspapers have closed repeatedly. The Sunday Correspondent. Today. The Post. The Morning Herald (that really was a quality tabloid). Reynold's News. The Morning Sketch. The Daily Sport. Loads of others.

In terms of rights, I know what you mean: the public sphere is important and the media are an essential feature of democracy. But you and I are romantic idealists if we wish that newspaper owners think in the same way.

Newspapers exist to channel readers to advertisers. That's where the money is. They're businesses selling us as a commodity to advertisers. There are exceptions (the Guardian is a trust designed simply to keep the paper afloat), but most are vehicles for the capitalist hegemony.

In general terms, your point about plurality stands. Though I can't help thinking that there isn't much plurality: most newspapers subsist on a diet of tits and reactionary politics. There are many titles, but not much width of opinion, especially when you look at sales. And given News International's 40% of the market, perhaps the decline of NOTW will improve plurality, or even stimulate the foundation of an independent paper to fill the gap.

Benjamin. said...

The News of the World staff were becoming as veiled as Nazi war criminals therefore had to be closed. Rebekah Brooks, however, should reveal a trace of humanity and resign. She had attempted to do so twice according to reports only for her boss to tell to hold fire, why? I hope to God that his bid for BSkyb falls through.

I agree with your point Vole regarding plurality, the NOTW shan't be missed for its superior quality only for its crass gossip and scaremonging that filled the void in people's empty lives. If a proper newspaper came in its place I would herald it but shall not hold my breath.

ed said...

I'm slightly perturbed at how the same desire for sensational gossip and public scandal that probably drove many people to buy the News of the World is now motivaing me to refresh the Guardian's news blog every 10 minutes or so to see what new lurid revelations are emerging.

Benjamin. said...

I've just checked that blog, Ed. Instead of 'Brooks Fired' there's reports she's in a Black Lexus. And the celebrities standing up to the NOTW- Coogan, Grant and now George Michael hardly strengthen the cause for their past transgressions.

As for the video posted of the NOTW staff leaving their HQ...

God almighty.