I have not paid attention to the British tabloid scandal. All I know is that Murdoch’s News of the World stands accused of sleazy and perhaps illegal tactics in gathering news stories on celebrities and crime victims. The allegations broke when Murdoch’s company was about the acquire Sky News and turn it into a British Fox News. The timing looks suspicious to me.
From the press coverage, it would seem that only News of the World engaged in such dirty tricks. Can this be true?
I understand that British tabloids compete against each other fiercely. If only one uses sleazy techniques to get juicier stories, the others would lose out in the competitive struggle.
As an economist, I pose a hypothesis: If only the Murdoch papers (News of the World and the Sun) used underhanded and sleazy methods to get news scoops, their share of the tabloid market would be rising over time. Only they had the really salacious stories. Other tabloids would be boring in comparison.
British tabloid circulation statistics do not support the hypothesis. Both News of the World’s share of Sunday tabloids and The Sun’s share of daily circulation remained stable against a backdrop of declining overall tabloid circulation.
This statistical fact tells me that “everyone did it.” But why are only the Murdochs being investigated?