If I’m going to write about the soap opera previously known as News International, perhaps I need to adopt some tricks of the trade.
It’s all about the headline.
In surveys 8 out of 10 people will read a headline, but only 2 out of 10 will go on to read the rest of the copy. Little wonder then that so much content is lacking in substance – it’s irrelevant. How many times are we seduced into buying, only to be disappointed by what follows.
News International are masters of this craft. And now in a fitting irony, they have been hoisted by their own petard. In a revealing two hour interrogation, both Rupert and James Murdoch apparently had no idea what was going on within the organisation they ran. They hadn’t read the story behind their own headlines.
Questions like… How did they think they were getting the information? Did they not find it odd that they were paying the legal fees of the hackers? When hacking was discovered why were the initial payouts so ridiculously high? Did they think this would nip the scandal in the bud?
There were no answers, just incoherent mumblings from Rupert and over repetition of words like “don’t know, have to get back to you on that one, not sure but I’ll find out” from the over zealous son and heir.
It’s all about the buzz words (Sex! Scandal!) Who cares about the correct words.
“This is the most humble day of my life” is of course grammatically incorrect. But then Rupert is only head of the largest media corporation in the world, so no biggie.
It’s all about what will stay in the mind of the reader.
Everyday masses of information comes towards us. We filter this into what gets remembered. The media have taken advantage of this for years. They can peddle rubbish then print an apology, knowing that no-one filters for apologies, they filter for sensation.
What was the lead in all the news coverage today? The lack of answers to the damning questions? Of course not! It’s the three second caper with the foam pie. If this wasn’t a set up I’ll eat my hat. Who was the perpetrator – some political activist? No… it was an actor! With more security than Heathrow airport on full terrorist alert, there was no way a metal canister of foam could get through the x ray machines.
The Murdochs may not know how to be decent human beings, but they do know how the media circus works. Fighting them with committees and enquiries is a waste of time and money. We are now going to spend years and enormous sums of money informing thousands of people that their phones may have been hacked. Meanwhile, the real story has been buried – even the most stupid person in the land would have deleted any incriminating emails years ago.
And the headline?
When asked if the scandal would make him think about about what his headlines would say in the future, James stammered something about establishing an independent ethics board.
That would be a “no” then.