The Scandalous Power of the Press: Phone Hacking in the UK

Fenton, Natalie. 2019. The Scandalous Power of the Press: Phone Hacking in the UK. In: Howard Tumber and Silvio Waisbord, eds. Routledge Companion to Media and Scandal. Abingdon: Routledge. ISBN 9780815387596 [Book Section]

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Abstract or Description

Much news media thrive on scandal. But what happens when the scandal is about the media itself? In 2011 News of the World journalists stood accused of illegally hacking the phone of murdered schoolgirl Milly Dowler. This proved to be the tip of a very large iceberg as the scandal uncovered industrial-scale phone hacking taking place across the tabloid press. Rather than open up their practices of news production to scrutiny and accept the recommendations of an independent inquiry, the news industry closed ranks and hid behind the banner of ‘press freedom’. This story reveals the enduring power of the press and it’s ability to control scandal, direct the national conversation and set the agenda. It also reveals the continuing entanglement between press and politicians who still seek favour with those they think have the potential to influence voting behaviour. This chapter reflects on the power of news corporations to defy the public interest whenever it suits them and the role of mainstream news journalists as part of an elite power complex. Ultimately the chapter argues that media scandal, wherever it is found, is all about power and commercial priorities.

Item Type:

Book Section

Departments, Centres and Research Units:

Media, Communications and Cultural Studies
Media, Communications and Cultural Studies > Goldsmiths Leverhulme Media Research Centre


26 July 2018Accepted
11 April 2019Published

Item ID:


Date Deposited:

27 Jul 2018 09:41

Last Modified:

11 Oct 2020 01:26


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