News of the World: A Lesson in Poor Governance

For the Murdochs to be sitting through the enquiry in July,
repeatedly saying “I don’t know” in tones that varied from bewildered
sheepishness to defiant abrogation of responsibility, was ridiculous.  It is essential that an organisation, particularly if it is large and communication lines are stretched, state its values clearly and what this means for all activities undertaken within it.  Manifestly, if the Murdochs didn’t approve of what was happening in their own patch, that didn’t happen.

Within a newspaper, communication of values is a part of the product and leads to readers choosing papers that fit better with their own philosophy.  However, though the no-holds-barred approach can be seen as “tenacious” which is, of course, a good
thing, especially when it leads to the exposure of actions that are not in the
public interest, few readers would choose a paper that actively encouraged such
invasive behaviour, surely?  A simple examination of the concept of “do as you would be done by” would be enough to show that, if you wouldn’t be happy for your own phone to be hacked into if your child had been killed, you shouldn’t condone it by buying a paper employing a reporter who has done exactly that.

It is therefore essential that your processes are consistent with the values you uphold and managing these values becomes a part of your risk management strategy.  These values should be clearly articulated and documented: how else can employees tell if they are acting in accordance with them? How else can you manage their behaviour?  If the Murdochs don’t understand that, they have no business running such a large concern, nor blaming those in their employ that allowed it to happen.

If you’ve got any ideas how else it could be done, I’m happy to hear about them.


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