The phone hacking scandal in Britain has calmed somewhat since the climactic hearing in Parliament last Tuesday. For the first time in over two weeks, The Guardian opted not to run a liveblog of developments as they happened, instead relying on some fairly retrospective blog updates from journalism professor Roy Greenslade. The Telegraph, which has also been fairly aggressive, took a similar step back with a profile on Daily Mirror journalist James Hipwell, who claimed phone hacking was widespread at his former publication, and a review of British chancellor George Osborne's relationship with News Corp. executives. In fact, Tuesday's most newsworthy events almost all involve other British tabloids and American broadsheets scurrying to do some damage control before Parliament sends out their next round of summons.
Daily Mirror's publisher launches an internal probe in phone-hacking. After shares fell nearly 10 percent in the wake of accusations of widespread hacking last week, Trinity Mirror is launching an internal investigation into the editorial controls and procedures at all of their newspapers, including the Daily Mirror, Sunday Mirror and The People. The company has already called Hipwell's accusation and that of BBC2's Newsnight "unsubstantiated" but hopes that the six-week-long review--which has not been described as an investigation--will clear up anxieties from investors. In his reaction blog post, Greenslade doubts they'll find anything incriminating. "By contrast, there may be all sorts of claims about hacking having occurred at non-News Int titles," writes Greenslade. "But--aside from uncorroborated allegations by MPs and former staff (usually with an axe to grind)--there is no proof."
Wall Street Journal admits they "could have done a better job" covering the scandal. The Murdoch-owned American broadsheet is dealing with critics who've accused the paper of not being aggressive enough in their coverage of the phone hacking scandal. (Of their coverage, New York Times columnist Joe Nocera said, "The Journal was turned into a propaganda vehicle for its owner's conservative views.") In an editorial yesterday, a five-person Special Committee set up by Dow Jones "to safeguard its editorial independence to News Corp." asked countless journalists in their news room and found that they didn't feel "political, ideological or commercial pressure" that influenced their news judgement. The committee also addressed the paper's less-than-aggressive interview with Rupert Murdoch and promised to do better:
The Journal was slower than it should have been at the outset to pursue the phone-hacking scandal story, in our opinion, though it is doing much better now with aggressive coverage, fitting placement in the paper, and unflinching headlines. We agree it could have done a better job with a recent story allowing Mr. Murdoch to get his side of the story on the record without tougher questioning. We have discussed this with the involved editors.
Daily Mail's CEO promises his papers don't hack. Less damage control than naked profiteering, chief of the Daily Mail & General Trust newspaper group Martin Morgan is thinking about starting a new Sunday paper that would fill in the News of the World-sized hole in the market. And before they move ahead, he'd like to point out that his newspapers are pleasantly free of hacking allegations, so free that they don't need to launch any internal investigations like his competitors. "We're considering whether there's a gap in the market for a new Sunday title," Morgan told journalists on a conference call with journalists. "Our titles have not published stories based on hacked messages."
The Guardian journalist who broke the scandal scores a book deal. In other news, after working on the biggest story of the decade for, well, nearly a decade, The Guardian's Nick Davies has secured a book deal. Under the tentative title "Hack Attack: How the Truth Caught up with the World's Most Powerful Man," the book will be published in the fall of 2012, by an affiliate of Farrar, Strauss & Giroux in the U.S. and a subsidiary of Random House in the U.K.
CORRECTION: An earlier version of this post referred to the Wall Street Journal editorial as a "staff editorial." In fact, it was penned by a Special Committee affiliated but independent from The Journal. As such, the reference to the staff editorial that we originally called a "mea culpa" doesn't qualify as such, since the committee does not participate in editorial decision-making.
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