Media

Hacking away at the truth

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The dam has burst over revelations of phone hacking at Rupert Murdoch's News Group. Fresh revelations tumble daily from the High Court.

On just two days in mid-February we learned of a witness statement, previously withheld by police, that suggests an unknown number of News of the World (NoW) journalists used a private investigator to hack into celebrities' phones. We also learned that the Metropolitan Police held evidence of hacking that it repeatedly claimed did not exist and that Scotland Yard had uncovered new evidence (don't laugh) of illegal activity at the NoW.

Regenerating profits

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"We must never include a product or service in sound or vision in return for cash, services or any consideration in kind," says the BBC's website. "This is product placement."

But there are other ways to ensure that editorial content is profitable, especially important at a time of recession and managerial hotel expenses.

Cue the return of Doctor Who. According to Private Eye magazine, BBC Worldwide, the corporation's commercial wing, suggested that there might be extra, vitally needed funding for the show in return for new merchandising opportunities.

James Murdoch's Darwin

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Last month James Murdoch, son of Rupert and CEO of News Corporation, gave a keynote lecture at the Edinburgh International Television Festival.

Say what you like about him, anyone who quotes George Orwell and Leo Tolstoy, and sources Charles Darwin, Dutch traffic engineer Hans Monderman, the genetic development of the modern banana, and the Levellers (the political movement, not the band) is clearly a man of much gravitas. Or so you'd think.

Wapping lies

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Revelations of illegal practices on Rupert Murdoch's newspapers show one aspect of a media empire built on deceit. Ian Taylor considers News Corporation, New Labour and the move that made Murdoch's fortunes.

Rupert Murdoch's News Group newspapers paid out more than £1 million to stop evidence of phone bugging, hacking and other law-breaking by journalists coming to light.

The Guardian journalist Nick Davies uncovered evidence, published in July, that such activity was routine - directed at ministers, MPs, actors and sports stars. Former Sunday Times editor Andrew Neil hailed the story as among "the most significant of modern times".

When no news is bad news

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The rise of blogging, "citizen journalism" and free online content has been held as partly responsible for the demise of the newspaper industry. Dave Crouch argues the media corporations' greed is to blame for the thousands of journalists losing their jobs

Away from the newspaper headlines about the damage done to parliament by the scandal of MPs' expenses, democracy is under threat in the press itself. The recession is tearing great chunks out of the industry, which has already been squeezed by a long-term decline in readership.

The BBC bows to Zionist pressure

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The Zionist lobby has been deeply damaged by Israel's assault on Gaza in January. It is now trying to claw back some of the ground it lost - with the help of its friends in high places, namely in the senior management of the BBC.

Last month the BBC Trust censured the corporation's Middle East editor, Jeremy Bowen, for breaches of the BBC's guidelines on impartiality in his coverage of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. The complaints concerned an article by Bowen on the BBC website two years ago, and a radio broadcast in January 2008.

BBC: Whose side are you on?

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The refusal of the BBC's top management to broadcast the Disasters Emergency Committee (DEC) Gaza aid appeal focused public anger over media coverage of the Israeli assault.

The BBC Board's position had nothing to do with "impartiality". When a dog savages a child, it is not impartial to stand back and watch the child bleed - that is siding with the dog. Hiding behind the shibboleth of impartiality in reality meant that the BBC sided with Israel.

Tabloid Islamophobia - the web of deceit

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"They sometimes say if you give a fool a piece of rope he'll hang himself, and it seems that in this case this person has done exactly that." So said "terror expert" Glen Jenvey to CBS news in 2004, referring to his "sting" of cleric Abu Hamza, which he claims was pivotal in Hamza's arrest. Perhaps Jenvey should have chosen his words more carefully.

On 7 January the Sun ran a front page story with the headline, "Islamic fanatics name Alan Sugar, Mark Ronson and Lord Levy in a hit list of Britain's leading Jews." The story was based on claims by Jenvey that fanatics were using the online Ummah forum to orchestrate revenge attacks for the siege of Gaza. "Expect a hate campaign and intimidation by 20 or 30 thugs," said Jenvey.

The BBC and public service broadcasting

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By the time you read this, "Sachsgate" - the events that culminated in the suspension of two of the BBC's highest-profile presenters and the resignation of a senior radio executive - will have, in all likelihood, disappeared from the front pages of those newspapers that used it to paint a picture of moral decay with the BBC at its epicentre.

When Russell Brand and Jonathan Ross left smutty messages on the answerphone of actor Andrew Sachs, this was seen as merely the latest example of the alleged collapse of BBC editorial standards, following the discovery of faked phone-ins, the re-editing of a documentary of the Queen in 2007 and the Hutton Inquiry into BBC newsgathering in 2004.

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