So tonight the more than 200 employees of a very well-known publication are working on putting their final edition together, after 160 years in print, before being left unemployed. In the midst of political and media commentary and speculation regarding motives and fall-out I think it is only right that we hold that particular fact in our minds. By all accounts the people now without jobs were not those responsible for the situation that the News of the World now finds itself in. And let us be clear, if the allegations about the investigative practices used in the past are true then they are clearly horrendous, obviously criminal and definitely demanding of some serious prison sentences. But we need to be clear that those currently suffering the loss of their jobs (and who knows how many may actually be re-hired by News International to work on the suggested Sun on Sunday publication) are not the ones responsible.
Now, I am no fan of tabloids, of the Red Top or “Daily…” variety. I prefer my newspaper to be of the more weighty variety (most are no longer broadsheet in size) for reasons of both style and, I’ll admit (possibly somewhat snobbishly), intellectual engagement. I find it difficult to understand when hard-working, clearly professional and highly competent journalists say they are proud to work for tabloids – I mean, really, seriously, as someone of clear intellect and a love of language, would you not rather be working on The (Sunday) Times, The Guardian, The (Sunday) Telegraph, The Observer, The Indie (or IoS)? But nonetheless, I feel genuine pity for all those, not just journalists but the whole host of other staff as well, who were today told they would not have job beyond Saturday night/Sunday morning – and some presumably sooner than that.
Beyond that pity though I feel anger – anger that the real culprits are continuing to evade justice. And one of those culprits is Rebecca Brooks. James Mudoch’s statement regarding Brooks simply does not make sense. He claims that he is sure that she had nothing to do with the alleged wrong-doing. Well, that simply isn’t true. She was Editor of the NotW at the time of at least some of the alleged activities in what was, at the time, her newsroom. In that regard alone she at least had something to do with them. Any way this is looked at Brooks has a case to answer: either she directed the phone hacking, which has got to be gross misconduct; or she didn’t direct it but knew about it and turned a blind eye, again gross misconduct; or, as Murdoch contends, she didn’t know about something that appears to have been almost endemic in her newsroom, which might not be gross misconduct but surely is gross negligence?!
It is such a sad state of affairs that so many people seem to have lost their jobs, that a long-standing British newspaper has been wiped-out at the whim of a multi-national conglomerate when the one person who should rightly be identified as having at least some responsibility, whether through negligence, weakness or deliberate fault remains protected within that said multi-national conglomerate. There are many people and places to pray for tonight. Amongst them are some who have just lost their jobs, and at least one who should have lost theirs but hasn’t, at least not yet. I am not sure what the answer to these prayers might even look like, but I will pray for God to work in the midst of this situation that justice for all involved might be done.