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article imageOp-Ed: News Corp forces destruction of its leaked accounts

By Paul Wallis     Aug 21, 2014 in Business
Sydney - In a move which has surprised even regular News Corp critics, the company has forced Australian online journal Crikey to destroy copies of leaked information regarding News Corp newspaper financial reports.
Critics have called the response hypocritical, but there may be more to it than a mere corporate tantrum.
ABC Australia:
Online news site Crikey has responded to legal threats by agreeing to destroy leaked accounts indicating a steep decline in News Corporation's Australian newspaper business.
Crikey published what the Rupert Murdoch company calls internally "the blue book", the company's operating accounts for all its businesses.
The documents, which date from last year, show News Corp's print and digital publications were suffering from large falls in revenue, with flagship paper The Australian losing $27 million.
Late on Thursday afternoon Crikey removed hundreds of pages of the documents.
While the general view is that this was a deliberate leak, designed to damage the News Corp brand, the vehement reaction has raised more than a few eyebrows.
Not everybody’s impressed with the response, either:
Professor David McKnight, who has authored a book about Mr Murdoch, says News Corp is being "extraordinarily hypocritical".
"Coming from a media company that frequently publishes leaks, you really only have to imagine what News Corp would do if they had their hands on an equivalent document on Fairfax's internal operations, it would have been spread all over the front page with half a dozen gloating articles inside," he said.
Damage done, and major questions remain
Damage by the Crikey publications, as a matter of fact, may have been done. If there were a lot of documents online, those documents may well have been copied. Analysts say that the decline in the News Corp papers has been significant. Losses are described as “well into double digits”.
The problem is that that’s not the problem. This news is no surprise to anyone. The woes of the News Corp newspapers have been long discussed, including a few dry, wry comments by a pensive Rupert Murdoch himself years ago, and others he’s made since.
The official reports are straightforward enough on the subject, too. Group earnings per share were down to 46c from 62c last year. No mystery there, either.
News Corp has no reason to be happy about the leak, but the response seems to be somewhat hysterical, and worse, off-target. Crikey’s publication is far less of an issue than the fact that sensitive, upper-echelon documents were able to sail out the door without anybody even noticing until they were published.
News Corp apparently has a mole, or several, in the machinery. The fact that someone can access these documents and deliver Wikileaks-like tides of information is hardly encouraging.
It’s also not particularly safe. Whatever the motives, the party, or parties, obviously aren’t trying to do the company any favors. If they missed any spectacularly damaging information this time, it apparently wasn’t for lack of trying.
News Corp would be better advised to look for enemies within, than without.
This opinion article was written by an independent writer. The opinions and views expressed herein are those of the author and are not necessarily intended to reflect those of
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