Poor old Mr Murdoch.

The newspaper baron is back in the spotlight, this time for secretly recorded comments in which he is heard suggesting that paying police for tips has been going on for a hundred years, and that the police investigation into corrupt payments is incompetent.

News International Reputation

Press Baron

How have the reputaitons of Murdoch, News International and newspaper journalism been affected over the past two years since the allegations of hacking first emerged?

Reputations are complex and cannot simply be assesed on a simple good/bad axis.

It is true that the phone hacking saga has been distasteful, and distressing for many, and has pitched the media in an unflattering light. The fall out is likely to be tighter regulation and resticted freedom for the press.

But let’s not lose sight of the fact that we are discussing the methods used to acquire the stories, not the credibility of the product itself.

All of these activities were driven by a culture in which fearless pursuit of big news stories was the name of the game.

But it would have been a different matter had we discovered that stories were being fabricated (which would have been easier and cheaper).

I recently had a conversation with a newspaper editor (not in the UK) who admitted that his op ed desk had been making up letters for the letters page.

Now that would be damaging to the reputation of newspapers.

[Photograph: Noah Berger/AP]

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