In The Age of Transparency, A Company’s Sins Don’t Stay Hidden For Long

Rupert Murdoch is having a tough summer. First MySpace sells for a fraction of what he paid, now News of the World, a newspaper he bought in 1969, is no more.

And the news keeps getting worse for News Corp. The phone-hacking scandal that has engulfed the company has now spread to The Sunday Times, the British broadsheet that has long been one of Rupert Murdoch’s “quality” newspapers.

News Corp.’s daily tabloid The Sun has also been implicated, according to the Guardian, which reported Monday that both newspapers targeted the former British Prime Minister Gordon Brown. An investigation by the Guardian found that over a period of 10 years, con men working for The Sunday Times tricked Mr. Brown’s bank into providing details of his account and his lawyers into handing over information from his personal file.

According to PR Daily, reputation management in the digital age is becoming an immense challenge for many businesses, and the pressure being exerted on Rupert Murdoch and News Corp. will undoubtedly become a case study for business schools and public relations professionals. I suppose that’s true, but disatser PR skills wouldn’t be necessary, if the crimes weren’t committed in the first place. News, like many businesses, does have a ruthless edge to it. Which is why journalists, like many other professions, have codes of conduct.

In times past, code violations and corporate crimes small and large may have escaped the eye of the law, and they may today, but there appears to be little escape from the eyes of the crowd. And once a piece of valuable information is dispensed on these tubes, there’s no such thing as a containment policy.



About David Burn

I wrote my first ad for a political candidate when I was 17 years old. She won her race and I felt the seductive power of advertising for the first time. Today—after working for seven agencies in five states—I am head of brand strategy and creative at Bonehook in Portland, Oregon.