LONDON/NEW YORK (Reuters) - Some of Rupert Murdoch’s newspapers feasted on Friday on the demise of one of their own — Britain’s News of the World — serving up headlines such as “World’s End” and “Hacked To Death.”
But other properties within his News Corp empire offered more sober reporting or buried the story in inside pages.
The Sun, which dominates the British tabloid market during the week in the same way News of the World did on Sundays, hyped the closing of under the front-page headline “World’s End.” Friday’s front page marked a departure from The Sun’s previous practice of making little mention of the telephone- hacking scandal that led to its 168-year-old sister publication’s abrupt demise.
Murdoch’s Manhattan-based tabloid, the New York Post, buried the story inside its business section with a slim nine-paragraph story on page 29 headlined: “The End of News of the World.” The Post’s rival, the New York Daily News, ran a page 3 story with “Die, Tabloid, Die!” as the headline.
U.S. media experts said the general downplaying of the scandal by Murdoch tabloids was to be expected.
“How the Post played the story should come as no great surprise,” said Bill Grueskin, dean of academic affairs at Columbia University’s Graduate School of Journalism and a former deputy managing editor at the Wall Street Journal. “The Post is not known for its aggressive coverage of News Corp.”
A spokesperson for News Corp, Teri Everett, did not return a query seeking comment.
Experts added that many publications do not cover criticism of their own well.
“There have been exceptions, but media typically do a poor job in covering negative issues related to their parent companies,” said Victor Pickard, an assistant professor in the Department of Media, Culture, and Communication at New York University.
Murdoch broadsheets gave more prime coverage on Friday than they have recently, including The Times, one of the most prestigious UK dailies when Murdoch bought it in 1981.
The scandal has severely shaken the Murdoch media empire and threatened his attempted $14 billion takeover of the British satellite broadcaster BSkyB.
Friday’s headline in the Times was “Hacked to death” and it ran a picture of a youthful Rupert Murdoch reading the Sunday paper after buying it in 1969. It devoted its first 10 pages to the scandal.
Its main editorial praised the work of the paper and its journalists over the decades.
“Yet a terrible lapse in professional behavior ... has now laid this great paper low,” the editorial said. “A handful of people have trampled upon others in grief and despair. They have shamed themselves, destroyed a newspaper and damaged trust in the free press. It will be a long time before that trust is regained.”
The Wall Street Journal, bought by Murdoch in 2007, ran a front page story, but not in the same No. 1 position as its rival The New York Times. Neither devoted editorials to the scandal.
Media organizations have often changed their practices after scandals. The New York Times created a public editor position after reporter Jayson Blair fabricated stories.
As for breaking news on the phone-hacking scandal, Grueskin said Britain’s The Guardian newspaper led the way.
“Broke the story wide open. No one else comes close,” he said.
Editors at Murdoch papers have famously demanded aggressive reporting from journalists as revealed in books some wrote after leaving. One was titled: “Stick It Up Your Punter!” which captured the tabloid sleaze and shock journalism success of The Sun in the 1980s.
Editing by Robert MacMillan, Daniel Trotta and Andre Grenon