How the media told the phone hacking story, Part 1 – Judith Townend

21 04 2011

The Guardian has its own comprehensive archive on phone hacking with over 600 stories but how else has the British national media covered the story from 2006-11?

Searches were conducted on news databases using the terms “phone hacking” or “phone tapping” or “voicemail interception” and “News of the World”.

The Journalisted.com service, which holds data on media stories published by 21 digital news outlets (including BBC News Online) since early 2008, records 2,274 articles on the topic – at the time of writing.

The Nexis® UK database (subscription only), with a bigger archive dating back to the original phone hacking investigation in 2006, records 1,454 articles on phone hacking and News of the World at national newspaper titles. It should be noted that some articles are duplicates, published in different editions of the newspaper, for example. The list of national newspaper coverage, ordered from most to least coverage:

  1. The Guardian (411) + The Observer (102). Total = 513
  2. The Independent (211) + Independent on Sunday (58). Total = 269
  3. The Times (114) + The Sunday Times (24). Total = 138
  4. The Financial Times (London). Total = 115
  5. The Daily Telegraph (97) + The Sunday Telegraph (12). Total = 109
  6. Daily Mail (86) and Mail on Sunday (6). Total = 92
  7. The Express (68) + The Sunday Express (21). Total = 89
  8. The Sun. Total = 41
  9. Morning Star. Total = 34
  10. The Mirror (32) and The Sunday Mirror (1). Total = 33
  11. The Star and Sunday Star (Express Newspapers). Total = 21

As one might expect the Sun, sister paper of the News of the World, is near the bottom of the list, but strikingly, the Times and Sunday Times, also part of Rupert Murdoch’s News International, have covered the story more times than the Daily Mail and Mail on Sunday, the Daily Telegraph and Sunday Telegraph, the Mirror and the Sunday Mirror and the Express and Sunday Express. Less surprisingly, the Guardian and Observer top the list with 513 articles, followed by the Independent and Independent on Sunday with 269.

A separate search of the News of the World print archive showed two articles with the newspaper’s recent apology and three articles about Clive Goodman and Glenn Mulcaire’s imprisonment in 2006/7. It’s interesting to compare the Sunday papers – excluding NOTW – directly. Here’s a graph:

Of course, the way in which the stories were covered by different newspapers, is interesting too – and that’s what I’ll be looking at in Part 2 of this post.

*Search terms used: (((“phone tapping”) OR (“phone hacking”) OR (“voicemail interception”) AND (“news of the world”))). The Nexis® UK database data shows the results of the same search performed on various news organisations’ print archives, but some stories about the phone hacking scandal may be missing if text did not include the terms specified. Duplicates of the same story may also be included.

Judith Townend, is a freelance journalist and PhD research student at the Centre for Law, Justice and Journalism, City University London. She blogs at http://meejalaw.com and is @jtownend on Twitter.

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21 04 2011
Midweek media law mop up: | media law & ethics

[...] cardiologist Dr Peter Wilmshurst for libel has gone out of business.  Inforrm has just published my piece illustrating the varying level of coverage of phone hacking at national newspapers. Here’s a [...]

21 04 2011
How the media told the phone hacking story, Part 1 – Judith … « Media Point

[...] more: How the media told the phone hacking story, Part 1 – Judith … Written on April 21st, 2011 & filed under Media, TV Tags: articles-on-phone, bigger-archive, [...]

21 04 2011
How the media told the phone hacking story, Part 1 – Judith … | Media Point

[...] See the original post: How the media told the phone hacking story, Part 1 – Judith … [...]

21 04 2011
How the media told the phone hacking story, Part 1 – Judith … | Media Point - O Ponto de Encontro de todos os interessados nos Media!

[...] the rest here: How the media told the phone hacking story, Part 1 – Judith … Posted in Media | Tagged articles-on-phone, bigger-archive, Comentário, nexis, [...]

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