News Corp. Sends Angry Lawyers In When Other Publications Use Leaked Documents To Report On Its Failing Businesses
from the despite-doing-the-same-to-others... dept
Rupert Murdoch’s News Corp. has a rather long and somewhat sordid history of obtaining confidential information and publishing it. But apparently when someone else does that to News Corp., the company declares war. The Australian website Crikey got its hands on some internal News Corp. documents showing how badly its Australian newspapers were performing. The financial results were disastrous. Apparently, News Corp. didn’t take the story particularly well and sent in its angry lawyers:
In a letter to general counsels at Fairfax Media, Seven West Media, APN News & Media, the ABC, SBS, Nine
Entertainment Co and Ten Network Holdings, Ian Philip, chief general counsel at News Corp Australia, wrote: “It has come to the attention of News Limited that Crikey.com.au has today published documents and information which is highly confidential and commercially sensitive to News.
“In particular, Crikey has published in full News Corps’ Weekly Operating Statement for a week ending 30 June
2013, as well as a number of articles referring to the contents of the Weekly Operating Statement.
“The disclosure of this document is entirely unauthorised, and News is taking the necessary and appropriate
action against Crikey (including considering all available legal avenues).
“News will also take appropriate action against any other entity or individual who publishes the Weekly
Operating Statement and/or its contents, including by referring to or summarising its contents.
Soon after this, Crikey and News Corp. “reached a legal agreement” whereby Crikey agreed to take down and “destroy” the document, but with no gag order or injunction on its reporting over what was in the document.
Of course, the really amazing part in all of this is just how hypocritical News Corp. is in trying to suppress the leak. Others have pointed out that News Corp. has a history of doing exactly the sort of thing it’s now complaining about:
Media academic Associate Professor David McKnight, who has authored a book about Mr Murdoch, says News Corp is being “extraordinarily hypocritical”.
“Coming from a media company that frequently publishes leaks, you really only have to imagine what News Corp would do if they had their hands on an equivalent document on Fairfax’s internal operations, it would have been spread all over the front page with half a dozen gloating articles inside,” he said.
“I can’t imagine that News Corp would go ahead with the suggestion that there would be legal action, I mean it would just be the most extraordinary hypocrisy.”
And, in fact, another publication (part of Fairfax) notes that News Corp. has indeed done exactly that to Fairfax in the past:
News Corp titles in the past have published the odd article based on internal Fairfax Media documents (not more than 20 or so in the last year). And nothing could be more scrupulous than their concern for the public good when The Australian published outdated salaries of senior ABC journalists.
Oh, and that same report notes that News Corp.’s own reporters, in publishing the salaries of ABC journalists, had mocked them as “overpaid.” But the internal report that Crikey published showed that not only is News Corp.’s The Australian losing a ton of money, its employees are paid even more than those ABC journalists.
And those ABC journalists are now having fun with this, highlighting a number of recent News Corp. stories that rely on leaked documents. Here are just a few:
— The Advertiser, 25th February, 2014
— The Daily Telegraph, 22nd July, 2013
— The Australian, 10th May, 2014
And, of course, this effort to suppress the news has only drummed up that much more attention for just how poorly Murdoch’s Australian news business is doing, increasing the length of the news cycle.