One of the first reactions to James Murdoch announcing News of the World would close was sympathy for the 200 or so staffers who would lose their jobs. Surely not all 200 were involved in the phone hacking scandal that rendered the News of the World Brand "toxic." That was the word News Corp. CEO Rebekah Brooks used when she talked the newspaper's staff for the first time since Murdoch's announcement, and it did not sit well with the staffers. One soon-to-be-unemployed journalist scolded Brooks for her "arrogance" in a brief speech that drew applause from the entire room. Another staffer secretly made this recording of the off-the-record meeting:
The Telegraph describes the scene:
The News International chief executive told reporters that she would try to find jobs for them elsewhere in the company. This exchange then took place:
One employee told her: "Can you see that by your actions yesterday, your calling our newspaper toxic, we have all been contaminated by that toxicity by the way we've been treated. But can't you see the bigger picture? You're making the whole of News International toxic, and there's an arrogance there that you think we'd want to work for you again."
Mrs Brooks replied that there was "no arrogance coming from this standpoint".
She added: "I don't see there's anyone of you in this room here looking at me now that we wouldn't want to work (with) because we know there's no toxicity attached to you guys in the room. I mean that's the sadness. It wouldn't be sad, we wouldn't all be feeling like this if you guys were up to the neck in it like previous colleagues."
She admitted that the company was in "a very bad moment" but declared it would continue to invest in journalism.
Based on the Friday morning arrest of the newspaper's former editor Andy Coulson--the police released him Friday night--one could assume that News Corp. is in for a number of bad moments. London Metropolitan Police also arrested and released an unnamed 53-year-old believed to be former News of the World royal editor Clive Goodman and searched the offices of the Daily Star Sunday, where Goodman currently works. The Daily Star Sunday explained the visit in a statement, "Officers formally requested any-and-all computer material that Goodman had been involved with during his occasional shifts as a freelance reporter at the paper over the last year to cross-check it with his activities in his News of the World role."
It's unclear what will happen next. Going into the weekend, there is some confusion over the status of the News of the World employees. The notice of their termination given Thursday suggested they would be paid for three-months after the newspaper final day at print on Sunday. The Guardian's Maya Wolfe-Robinson points out that this fulfills a requirement laid out in employment legislation for 90-days notice when "terminating any employment by reason of redundancy" or more people. Should those laid-off protest over unfair dismissal, they may be able to earn an additional 90-days pay if it's determined that News of the World did not follow the proper procedures.
Based on the employee reactions we've seen so far, six months pay must feel like a consolation. That's apparently the price of saving Rebekah Brooks, everyone seems begrudgingly to agree.
This article is from the archive of our partner The Wire.
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