She’s gone, but the rest may still follow

A few minutes ago I received the news that Rebekah Brooks has finally fallen (or been pushed onto) her sword as chief of News International.

We are currently in the eye of a storm that one day will be taught in media classes in universities all over the world.

Her resignation perfectly follows the NI reaction to the hacking scandal – too little, too late.

There is a school of thought in PR that says you take the blame, take the pain, keep your trap shut and move on. Its effect is to appear contrite and limit the life-span of a story. It is often very, very effective.

For NI, this could have meant carrying out a proper investigation when the original hacking allegations came out, publishing the findings and taking appropriate disciplinary action all the way up the chain where warranted.

This, as we know, is not what happened.

Instead, the laughable “lone wolf” defence was put forward as NI refused to concede more than was already in the public domain. No-one in any position of responsibility at the News of the World or NI was held to account.

The result is that the revelations have gotten successively worse for the world’s most feared media barons and that, in their attempts to slow down the runaway train of bad publicity, they may well end up derailing their media train altogether.

And yet the resignation of Brooks is not the worst piece of news for Murdoch this week.

That prize is reserved for the preliminary investigation into whether or not the systemic NOTW tactic of hacking into mobile phones was used at the time of the 9/11 atrocities in the great city of New York.

If what seemed to be a cheeky tactic to get the jump on the competition was used on one of the blackest days in American history, Murdoch’s empire will be buried faster than you can say “Enron”.

This is, after all, the country that gave us “freedom fries” and if Murdoch’s minions have hacked the phone of a firefighter or police officer who gave their lives on that day, America’s revenge will be swift, brutal and richly deserved.

Murdoch, an American citizen, was attracted to the land of the free by their values and patriotism. It is fitting that it will be the very same patriotism that leads to the demise of his empire.

But for now, let us enjoy the fact that Brooks has gone, and with her the idea that a newspaper can consist of lies, entrapment and hacking from cover to cover.

Today is a great day for journalism. But there are greater days yet to come.