Murdoch Scandal Brings Executive Accountability Into Question


The recent News of the World scandal, whereby journalists have been found to be hacking into telephone and email accounts for private information, has the world questioning; just how far up does accountability go?

For News Corp, editors who were involved during the periods in question have been arrested, and faced the UK Commons media committee today (07/19/11) alongside James and Rupert Murdoch.

Rupert Murdoch claimed he shares no responsibility for what happened. Instead, he was simply let down by those he trusted. Brooks echoed his comments, claiming journalism is an arena of trust when it comes to how journalists and staff obtain and present information.

At the same time, Piers Morgan, a former News of the World editor, tweeted that Murdoch called him weekly just to ask the stories featured, not much else. Assuming this was the same approach during the hacking years, can the global CEO be held responsible for, as he points out, just 1% of his 53,000 people organization?

In my opinion, he cannot be held directly responsible for the actions of journalists when he had managers in charge of that particular business. Instead, I believe business unit heads should be held responsible for process and there should be strong controls in place to verify each piece of information used are from legitimate sources and not obtained illegally.

Yet I am also in conflict because the CEO, or the direct boss such as Brooks, surely should be asking more questions than what is being published - did they not question where the material came from?

And how does this relate to general business ethics? If staff act in illegal or unethical ways, is their manager, director or CEO to take responsibility? It is an interesting debate that is sure to rage on.


This article was written by Christian Pielow from the Association of Executive Search Consultants (AESC).

BlueSteps is the exclusive service of the AESC that puts senior executives on the radar screen of over 6,000 executive search professionals in over 70 countries. Be visible, and be considered for up to 50,000 opportunities handled by AESC search firms every year. Find out more at www.BlueSteps.com

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