It was a long time coming, but inevitable six months ago. James Murdoch has stepped down as chair of News International, signalling the Fall of the House of Murdoch as the dynastic succession to Rupert's News Corp empire is finished. The official statement - which is probably worth no more than a host of News Corp press statements which have either turned out to be highly misleading in the past (some outright lies indeed)
News Corporation today announced that, following his relocation to the company's headquarters in New York, James Murdoch, deputy chief operating officer, has relinquished his position as executive chairman of News International, its UK publishing unit. Tom Mockridge, chief executive officer of News International, will continue in his post and will report to News Corporation president and COO Chase Carey. "We are all grateful for James' leadership at News International and across Europe and Asia, where he has made lasting contributions to the group's strategy in paid digital content and its efforts to improve and enhance governance programs," said Rupert Murdoch, chairman and chief executive officer, News Corporation. "He has demonstrated leadership and continues to create great value at Star TV, Sky Deutschland, Sky Italia, and BSkyB. Now that he has moved to New York, James will continue to assume a variety of essential corporate leadership mandates, with particular focus on important pay-TV businesses and broader international operations." "I deeply appreciate the dedication of my many talented colleagues at News International who work tirelessly to inform the public and am confident about the tremendous momentum we have achieved under the leadership of my father and Tom Mockridge," said James Murdoch. "With the successful launch of the Sun on Sunday and new business practices in place across all titles, News International is now in a strong position to build on its successes in the future. As deputy chief operating Officer, I look forward to expanding my commitment to News Corporation's international television businesses and other key initiatives across the company."
More as I get it. OK, this is all on the hoof. Yes James resigned from other subsidiary boards several months ago as I detailed in another diary. But this is the biggie: NI was bidding for BSkyB which he also chairs - expect a resignation there too. More news in - still involved in BSkyB - but again this is slow withdrawal. Expect more retreats soon http://www.guardian.co.uk/media/2012/feb/29/james-murdoch-resigns-news-international-chairman
Wednesday's move sees him give up responsibility for News Corp's crisis-hit British newspaper operation as he completes his relocation to New York. The man once seen as his father Rupert Murdoch's automatic heir at the top of News Corp retains existing responsibility for "global television", overseeing busineses including the company's 39% stake in BSkyB, Sky-branded pay-TV companies in Europe and Star in Asia – and only gains the opportunity to become involved with the company's US Fox television operation as he settles in across the Atlantic. James Murdoch's managerial move away from News International explains why he was not in London to help oversee the launch of the Sun's Sunday edition, which has been personally supervised by his father. Friends say he has been eager to leave the UK and drop responsibility for the Wapping newspapers for several months as the phone hacking scandal enveloped the London outpost of the organisation.
And there are rumours of a major arrest in the pipeline.. just sayin' IMPORTANT ASIDE: I've been in touch with Alastair Morgan, whose brother Daniel was brutally murdered in South London in 1988, by suspects with close connection to the NoW hacking team. These same individuals were sponsored by NoW to harass and survey the police detectives re-examining the case in 2002. Ceebs had a diary yesterday about it, Murdoch and Murder. Tom Watson is going to make an important statement at 4pm BST (11 am EST) about Daniel Morgan's murder. I expect, under Parliamentary privilege, he might make some explosive revelations.
I've often written about the bad side of journalism, and especially that of the Murdoch owned press, but just breaking is some shocking news of the noble sacrifices many journalists make in their attempts to report reality. A civil war which is rapidly becoming one of the bloodiest conflicts has claimed the life of the great Sunday Times journalist Marie Colvin. She was killed along with a photographer Remi Ochlik when the building she was staying in was shelled by Syrian government forces. The people who tried to escape were then targeted by rockets. Two other journalist were severely injured in the attack. American born Colvin was the only journalist from a British paper in Syria, and has been described as the Martha Gellhorn of her generation. Witty, acerbic and fearless, only yesterday she filed reports for the BBC and CNN on the carnage in Homs.
“I watched a little baby die today,” she said. “Absolutely horrific. “There is just shells, rockets and tank fire pouring into civilian areas of this city and it is just unrelenting.” In a report published in the Sunday Times over the weekend, Colvin spoke of the citizens of Homs "waiting for a massacre". "The scale of human tragedy in the city is immense. The inhabitants are living in terror. Almost every family seems to have suffered the death or injury of a loved one," she wrote.
Last year, at a special ceremony in London at St Bride's Church for the 49 British journalists and media workers killed in war reporting over the last decade, Marie, who lost an eye due to shrap covering the Sri Lankan conflict, explained why she took the risks she did.
"Covering a war means going to places torn by chaos, destruction, and death... and trying to bear witness. It means trying to find the truth in a sandstorm of propaganda when armies, tribes or terrorists clash. And yes, it means taking risks, not just for yourself but often for the people who work closely with you. Despite all the videos you see from the Ministry of Defence or the Pentagon, and all the sanitised language describing smart bombs and pinpoint strikes... the scene on the ground has remained remarkably the same for hundreds of years. Craters. Burned houses. Mutilated bodies. Women weeping for children and husbands. Men for their wives, mothers children. Our mission is to report these horrors of war with accuracy and without prejudice. We always have to ask ourselves whether the level of risk is worth the story. What is bravery, and what is bravado?"
Of course, the death of one journalist is nothing compared to the thousands of innocent civilians who have been slaughtered by the Syrian regime. Think of a citizen journalist like 26 year old Rami Ahmad Alsayed, killed in the streets of BabrAmr with three of his friends. He maintained a live video stream to provide graphic details of the kind of indiscriminate military terror Assad's forces had unleashed on Homs. Below is moving tribute by his brother of over Rami's body, detailing his wounds. WARNING: upsetting images.
Marie Colvin, who described the situation in Homs as one of the bloodiest and most dangerous she'd ever seen, lost her life reporting how others were losing theirs. Her death brings home to us how lethal the situation is for most Syrians.
"Someone has to go there and see what is happening. You can't get that information without going to places where people are being shot at, and others are shooting at you. The real difficulty is having enough faith in humanity to believe that enough people be they government, military or the man on the street, will care when your file reaches the printed page, the website or the TV screen. We do have that faith because we believe we do make a difference."
Let's hope that her death, like her life, keeps on making a difference, and this shocking news will shake the international community out of its indifference to the sufferings of Syria.