Phone hacking scandal

n intense scandal that happened in the United Kingdom, 9,867 km from Uganda, sent waves across the journalism world with effects that are to be far reaching. The News International phone-hacking scandal was one involving News of the World and other British newspapers published by News International, a subsidiary of News Corporation.

In 2011, it was found that one or more employees of these newspapers hacked into Milly Dowler’s phone (a murdered teenager) to get a story to run. This raised a public outcry against such an activity by the press. The 13 year old girl disappeared from home for days and the family continually called her phone, leaving voice messages for her to get in touch with them. This was done a number of times that the voicemail storage was full and could not take any more messages. Unknown to anyone else, the press hacked into her voicemail, listened to, and deleted the messages; when the family tried to call their daughter again, they found that though the phone call was not picked up, there was space for voice messages! This could only mean that their daughter had indeed retrieved the messages left for her and gave the family a lot of hope.

This hope was going to be found as false because Milly was dead. The press activity came to light causing such revulsion because this was wrong on many fronts; listening in on private conversations, leading the family to false hope, plain bad journalism. Questions arose as to who else was being hacked- this bought an answer; celebrities, politicians, the British soldiers and victims of the 7/7 London bombings. The situation led to advertiser boycott contributing to the closure of the News of the World on 10 July, after 168 years in business. The closure of this one media house was not going to suffice. More needed to be done and this by the powers in the land to ensure the citizens are protected.

The press needed to be corrected with more than a slap on the wrist. This was not the first time press ethics were compromised for a story (one of the other times being the death of Diana, princess of Wales). Comprehensive reforms had been introduced whose impact was felt but not to great effect. 

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