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Follows the exposes, resignations and arrests resulting from an extraordinary series of events that has shaken the establishment to the core. Explores the Murdoch media model, the relationship with Thatcherism and the deregulation of the finance and media markets. It also charts the rise of new media and online activism, citizen and crowd-sourced journalism and their role in putting pressure on advertisers and legislators in the US and UK.
"A wide-ranging and engaging treatise on Murdoch's phone hacking scandal and what it tells us about politics, monopoly power and the future of technology." Martin Hickman, author with Tom Watson of Dial M for Murdoch
Lucid, forceful. I am most impressed by the way he grasps the central truth of the incapacity of our institutions to cope with Murdoch.
Rupert Murdoch ruined my life. I'm not a famous soap star, celebrity, politician, rival company or former employee, so he didn't do it deliberately. But slowly, insidiously, over thirty years his influence on my world, my culture, my books, my friends, my professional world, and the politics of my nation has been nearly all to the bad.
The Fall of the House of Murdoch began life as a blog on the leading US left-wing website the Daily Kos (which receives 20 million page hits a week). Inspired by the support I got for the blog, I decided to work it up into a book, a blow-by-blow account of the moment when Rupert Murdoch’s media dominance in the English speaking world was exposed and challenged.
I'm a dramatist, so The Fall of the House of Murdoch will have a dramatic structure, framed by those tumultuous 20 days in July when the News of the World collapsed, and the Murdochs were hauled before Parliament, and the most powerful man in my lifetime had to meet the people's elected representatives.
Murdoch senior’s appearance before the Select Committee on Culture and Media was like the climax of The Wizard of Oz. The progress of the hacking scandal, and then the 80 year old's stumbling, contrite, sometimes cantankerous performance, was the pulling back of a curtain to expose a frail old man with a large mouthpiece. The fear was gone: the mystique exposed. The power has begun to evaporate...
But each chapter will also flash back over the 30 years to chart the rise of the most powerful media magnate in history; his relationship with Thatcher and Reagan and the deregulation of the markets and the rise of international cross platform monopolies; his collision with the Royal Family; and the slow degradation of a model of journalism that 'speaks truth to power'.
Due for publication in Spring 2012, I call The Fall of the House of Murdoch an alternative Leveson report, because it will make international, political, economic and personal connections the official enquiry will not dare to.
Chapter One 4th July: Before the Fall
To say that Rupert Murdoch ruined my life, and probably ruined yours, is only partly hyperbole.
Having worked in a bewildering variety of media; TV, theatre, journalism, radio, publishing (and indeed a brief stint working for Murdoch designing interactive dramas in the 90s) I know that this is book I'm destined to write because Murdoch has touched so many of the professional areas of my life. My drama credits are diverse - from a West End Musical to award winning mainstream TV shows such as Waking the Dead and Sea of Souls; an arcane but still academically popular book about cities A Shout in the Street, to two recent darkly comic radio series starring Lenny Henry as a Police Chaplain who has lost his faith. Confused? I'm not. It's exciting. It's a mess. But if there is one unifying thread, it's this link between culture and politics which The Fall of the House of Murdoch so vividly demonstrates.
This fusion of culture and politics also underpins my non-fiction journalistic career, writing for The Independent, New Statesman or Prospect magazine for themes as diverse as nationalism, art in the computer age, or apocalyptic religion. It was this connection which, in the 90s, led me to be involved in the investigations around the cash for questions scandal and become a speechwriter for Gordon Brown on the issue of British Identity. In the last five years this has led me online where I'm a regular blogger on US political sites like Daily Kos, Motley Moose and MyDD, where I documented the 2008 Obama primary wars for Prospect Magazine.
Back in the early 90s, I wrote that computers and the internet will electrify the word, and turn passive consumers into active producers of culture and meaning. More than ever, with crowd-sourced citizen journalism and online activism and now crowd funded projects like this, I believe its time has come.
The book will be richly illustrated by New Yorker cartoonist Eric Lewis who I met as one of the fellow campaigners online in the US.
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