After Rupert Murdoch closed down the 183-year-old tabloid News of the World in July following the revelation that the paper’s staff had hacked into the voice mails of a murdered British girl, Milly Dowler, journalists found themselves very suddenly without a job. No one less than Rebekah Brooks, the soon-to-be-former CEO of News International, promised that News Corporation, the New York-based parent company of NI, “would try and find everyone a new job”; Brooks said that ever single” former NoW employee “will be offered a job.
But a list of possible positions with other NI outlets yielded openings such as “materials manager” for Fox in Siberia and oil reporter or “symbology analyst — Russian language” for Dow Jones wire service: Not exactly positions that former reporters for a paper with a focus on celebrities and scandal could ease into.
Murdoch had indicated his concern about Brooks, speaking of needing to take care of her as the scandal that would eventually cost Brooks her job grew and grew. Now it has been reported that Murdoch gave Brooks £1.7 million in cash as part of her severance package, as well as the use of an office in central London and a chauffeur-driven limousine for two years.
Originally a secretary at the features desk of the Sunday newspaper, Brooks was arrested and bailed shortly after she had resigned as CEO of NI. James Murdoch, third in command at his father’s News Corp., is to appear before the parliamentary culture media and sport select committee on Thursday and is likely to be asked about the decision to give Brooks her generous severance package, not to mention continued use of an office.
It is also anticipated that Murdoch will concede that News Corp. should have taken action earlier about allegations that phone hacking was a widespread practice at NoW and not, as the company has claimed, the work of one “rogue” reporter. Last week, Jamie Pyatt, a journalist for the News Corp.-owned paper The Sun was arrested on allegations of payments to police officers. Pyatt had worked for The Sun since 1987; he had worked under Brooks in her time as an editor there. Pyatt is the first journalist to be arrested from another News Corp.-owned paper in connection with Scotland Yard’s Operation Elveden.
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