Under fire, media mogul Rupert Murdoch today boosted the spirits of Sun journalists, telling them that “everyone is innocent until proven otherwise”.
He also voiced his intention to launch a Sunday edition of the Sun “very soon”.
However, the fallout from the News of the World phone hacking scandal could yet prove to be more damaging than the blast itself. Rupert Murdoch is at the Sun offices in Wapping today, his modus operandi being to placate an unsettled workforce who feel victimised by the current print media witch hunt. A further five Sun journalists were arrested last week in connection with bribery allegations aimed at Police officials.
Murdoch told the newsroom: “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.”
The trust of the audience, both for the Sun and News International, is pivotal to the precarious survival of the Sun. Reports from the U.S. suggest that Murdoch would be prepared to sacrifice journalists to protect his reputation and, vicariously, his business.
In his memo to staff, Murdoch was adamant that the Sun‘s stance was alongside the law, not in opposition: “Illegal activities simply cannot and will not be tolerated,” He said. “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.”
Journalists at the Sun may well be quaking in their boots at the prospect of further investigation, but Murdoch has pledged his, and News International’s, support: “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.”
This internal vindication of guilt elicited a positive response from Sun employees past and present. Former editor David Yelland said: “What a fantastic email to Sun staff from Rupert Murdoch. So many friends, so many good journalists, will be relieved.”
It is in no doubt that Murdoch’s campaign to create “an example to Fleet Street of ethical journalism” following the News Of the World scandal is severely compromised, and damage limitation would seem a priority at this stage. The intention to replace the defunct weekly with ‘The Sunday Sun’, and its as yet unknown success, could prove to be a hasty and ill-conceived maneuvere if the Sun cannot recover it’s reputation.
Main image Griszka Niewiadomski via stock.xchng