A salacious tabloid shutdown, a global media empire tarnished, an octogenarian media mogul humbled, an entire nation incensed by an outrageous phone hacking scandal.
It is, ironically, a story right out of tabloid headlines.
It’s not tabloid material, of course, but the story of Rupert Murdoch’s ill-fated News of the World phone-hacking scandal. And it’s a story publishers couldn’t resist.
British journalist Nick Davies, the Guardian reporter who broke the News Corp. story has already signed the first book deal. “HackAttack: How the Truth Caught up with the World's Most Powerful Man,” published by Faber and Faber, a subsidiary of Farrar, Straus & Giroux, will hit US shelves in the fall of 2012.
In July 2009, Mr. Davies broke the story that Mr. Murdoch’s media company had paid £1 million to settle accusations that “News of the World” journalists had illegally hacked the phones of victims, politicians, and celebrities. His reporting revealed that the phone hacking scandal was much more widespread than initial police investigations first suggested.
Davies's book will consider the hacking scandal in the wider context of Rupert Murdoch's power over governments and relationships with the power-elite of the UK.
Though it began at least two years ago, the phone hacking scandal exploded earlier this summer when news leaked that journalists at the “News of the World” tabloid hacked the phone of a 13-year-old murder victim while police were still searching for her.
The 168-year-old paper was closed and ten people have been arrested so far, amid public outrage at its tactics.
According to the UK’s Guardian newspaper, British Labour MP Tom Watson will also write a book about the scandal, co-written with Martin Hickman of “The Independent” newspaper. It will be published by Penguin Press later this year.
“There is not the least sense of competition or animosity between Davies and Watson, however,” writes the Guardian’s Roy Greenslade. “I understand they have talked about their separate projects and both agree that it is such a huge, sprawling story there is room for more than one account (indeed, more will surely follow).”
It’s not fiction, of course, but it sure sounds like the trappings of a juicy novel.
Husna Haq is a Monitor contributor.