Phone hacking scandal: Historicization and trial by media

Two phone hacking related announcements from the Centre for Law, Justice and Journalism, City University London.

Historical context

This event hosted by the City Media Network, as part of the Sociology Department PhD students seminar series, will take place on Tuesday 3 July:

Historicising the UK phone hacking scandal: the origins of wiretapping and early cases in the United States and Britain with Colin Agur (Columbia University, Graduate School of Journalism)

The ongoing revelations of widespread phone hacking by NewsCorp raise questions about journalistic ethics and how effectively governments can protect privacy in a world of mass mobile phone usage. To understand the significance of the current scandal, we can look to the origins of wiretapping: the relationship between the telephone and recording technology dates back to their nearly simultaneous releases in the 1870s. Since then, as technologies have improved, wiretapping has became a favored tool in police investigations on both sides of the Atlantic, and the subject for several scandals. This talk explores the roles different parties (bootleggers, bookies, police, journalists) have played in the growth and sophistication of telephone surveillance. It contextualises the current UK scandal, showing how a tactic developed by and for police has been put to use by powerful corporate actors.

Please contact  for general inquiries. Full details.

Trial by media

Secondly, a new book chapter, by one of the CLJJ’s directors, Chris Greer, and former director Eugene McLaughlin:  ‘Trial by Media: Phone-hacking, Riots, Looting, Gangs and Police Chiefs’.

Abstract: Contemporary police chiefs must operate within an information-communications environment that differs radically from the more stable and predictable conditions conceptualised in previous research. The most important dimension of this multi-faceted environment is the emergence of the 24-7 news mediasphere. This paper examines the changing nature of news media-police chief relations, and the rising news media ‘politics of outrage’, by analysing the ‘trial by media’ that defined Sir Hugh Orde’s attempt to become Commissioner of the MPS in August/September 2011.

Cite as: Greer, C. and McLaughlin, E. (2012) ‘Trial by Media: Phone-hacking, Riots, Looting, Gangs and Police Chiefs’, in J. Peay and T. Newburn (eds.) Policing, Politics, Culture and Control: Essays in Honour of Robert Reiner (Festschrift), London: Hart.

This paper was presented to the Crime, Justice and Society Research Group at City Law School on 30 May 2012.

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