Rupert Murdoch’s announcement that he will begin publishing the Sun on Sunday has surprised followers of the phone-hacking scandal. In one move, Murdoch has managed to change the conversation from criminal charges and ongoing arrests, to one about a new newspaper, and fresh jobs for journalists. The 81 year old has moved quickly and as a game changer this is perfect.
Though unanswered questions will continue to plague Murdoch’s empire, the company now has a definitive reason to start talking about its future without having to answer questions solely about the past. By creating a new newspaper, News International can confidently reply: That Was Then – This Is Now.
The PR Verdict: “B” for a chess move designed to startle. The new story about News International will be the Sun on Sunday’s actual content and business performance.
If News International really wants to put the past behind it, the first issue of the Sun on Sunday should carry a pledge from management and journalists making a clear break with the past, outlining core values and making a public promise of integrity to its readers. It might just be the definitive line-in-the-sand the public has been waiting for. After that, the editors will need to work out just what type of paper they can create when they are not putting celebrities under surveillance or hacking phones for gossip.
Will the Sun on Sunday be that different from News of the World? Let us know.