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Tuesday, 26 July 2011

News International Hacking - It will be all white on the night

Working in news and current affairs you quickly realise that the more interesting story is normally the one behind the headlines that require a little bit of digging. To be honest it is the digging and finding the story that no one else has that makes working in current affairs fun.

Watching the recent events on the News of the World and News International hacking story unfold I did a little digging and in many ways it highlights how small the media world is and its lack of diversity.

In a lot of the pictures of Rupert Murdoch recently you will see him with one of his most trusted advisers, William Lewis. Will Lewis is the former editor of the Daily Telegraph and was appointed general manager of News International last year after leaving the Telegraph.

While Rebekah Brooks, Rupert Murdoch and James Murdoch have had their pictures on the front pages it is Will Lewis and NI’s global director of communications who are thought to be the two most important people behind the scenes for News International.

Now this is where the story becomes interesting for those of us concerned with diversity in the media. The global director of communications is Simon Greenberg. Simon Greenberg grew up five streets away from Will Lewis and both of them went to the same primary school. Not the best advert for diversity in the media.

But if you thought high powered media jobs in Britain go to the same small group of people then you won’t be surprised by the next part of the story.

Earlier this year there were strong rumours that Will Lewis was going to be Cameron’s director of communications, after the Prime Minister’s then director of communications, Andy Coulson, (the former editor of the News of the World) resigned.

Will Lewis didn’t get that job.

If he had, he would have been the SECOND member of his family to be director of communications for a prime minister. Will Lewis’s older brother, Simon Lewis, was director of communications for Prime Minister Gordon Brown in 2009.

It’s important to remember that whatever you may think of the News International hacking story Simon Greenberg and Will Lewis only joined NI after the hacking had taken place. It was Will who went to the police with evidence that there may have been payments by News International to police officers.
However once you look behind the headlines, as any good journalist should do, what this story points to is a complete lack of diversity in the media. I do not know who or what is to blame for the News International scandal but a lack of diversity frequently leads to a lack of questioning of the status quo and challenging of accepted practices and thinking. Could a few more disabled, BME and people from diverse backgrounds in positions of power have stopped the NI scandal occurring? We will never know. But I guess the only way to really find out in the future is by breaking the industry glass ceilings and appointing more diversity into positions of authority.

Who knows something good might come out of this hacking scandal after all.

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