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Don't blame the journalists…it's just business! - ASHARQ AL-AWSAT English Archive
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Perhaps if Rupert Murdoch was not the owner of a huge media empire, he would have found himself hard-pressed to deal with the pressure following the revelation of the “News of the World” phone hacking scandal. This newspaper published its last issue on Sunday, after 168 years, during which it buried a number of public figures through its sensationalist and sometimes slanderous journalism practices.

Murdoch has an endless supply of enemies and opponents, both political and personal. However thanks to his vast media empire, nobody was prepared to go after him. Murdoch owns numerous television channels and publications; with his television interests in the US, namely Fox Broadcasting Company, being responsible for practically half the political media and rhetoric in the country, whilst he is also has a stake in British Sky Broadcasting [BSkyB], along with interests in many other television channels and newspapers.

One cannot underestimate the importance of public curiosity, the public’s appetite for reading gossip, and their willingness to purchase a newspaper each morning in order to read the latest gossip and scandals. If you want to know the secret of running a successful and popular media company, then this is addiction, namely the consumer’s addiction to reading the latest news and gossip. It is impossible, in this age of information and transparency, to prevent the publication from accessing such news and gossip, regardless of who is seeking to prevent this information from being revealed, whether this is the police or the courts.

The media today is a profitable business, and a daily newspaper like the British tabloid “The Sun” sells around twenty-five million copies a week, generating millions of dollars in profit. Therefore it is only natural that this newspaper should take the risk of airing dirty laundry so long as this increases the newspapers circulation and profits.

The problem is that this ghoulish practice, as former British Prime Minister Tony Blair described it, is only becoming more widespread and pervasive today, and nobody knows how to restrain this. For the laws, courts, and even public morality has failed to put an end to such ghoulish media practices. The courts have fined newspapers millions of dollars, but by continuing these same practices these same newspapers make far greater profits. Anybody who celebrated the closure of the “News of the World”, the so-called newspaper of scandals, has forgotten that newspapers such as this will always have readers so long as there are scandals in the world.

If Murdoch was order the closure of the “News of the World”, which was only published once a week, he still retains ownership of the daily tabloid “The Sun”, amongst other newspapers. This will make Murdoch’s enemies think twice before attacking him, for his newspapers still have an enormous impact on public opinion,

Therefore anybody who thinks that the closure of a popular newspaper such as the “News of the World” will put an end to sensationalist journalism is mistaken. Many thought that the death of the most famous and indeed most popular Princess in the history of Britain, namely Princess Diana, would signal the end of tabloid and sensationalist journalism, particularly as the media itself was widely considered to have played a role in causing her death, as her car was being chased by paparazzi when it crashed. There was a huge public outcry against tabloid journalism and paparazzi following this incident, however those responsible kept their heads down for a number of week, and then later came out to participate in the hysteria following the Diana funeral, and then returned to their same sensationalist practices with even more energy than before.

Abdulrahman Al-Rashed

Abdulrahman Al-Rashed

Abdulrahman Al-Rashed is the former general manager of Al-Arabiya television. He is also the former editor-in-chief of Asharq Al-Awsat, and the leading Arabic weekly magazine Al-Majalla. He is also a senior columnist in the daily newspapers Al-Madina and Al-Bilad. He has a US post-graduate degree in mass communications, and has been a guest on many TV current affairs programs. He is currently based in Dubai.

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