The Independent reported this weekend that the UK police are investigating Rupert Murdoch’s News International (now called News UK) for corporate-level crimes in the hacking and bribery scandal.

The development has caused pandemonium at the upper echelons of the Murdoch media empire. Shortly afterwards, executives in America ordered that the company dramatically scale back its co-operation with the Metropolitan Police…

The Independent can reveal that Scotland Yard warned News Corp that its UK subsidiary, which publishes The Sun and used to publish the now-defunct News of the World, was under formal investigation on 18 May last year.

A month later, Rupert Murdoch announced he was splitting the global empire he spent six decades building up into one of the most powerful companies in the world. The 82-year-old hived off the highly profitable television and film assets, including 21st Century Fox and Fox News, into a separate entity from the troubled newspaper group in what was widely perceived as an attempt to isolate any contagion from the phone-hacking scandal.

There’s no doubt that News International as a corporation was rotten to the core. Whether authorities will have the will to prosecute it is an open question.

The New Republic’s Judith Shulevitz picks apart “disruption,” the annoying business buzzword du jour, particularly when it’s applied to public goods:

You can’t blame Christensen and his co-writers for all the dumb things said and done in the name of disruption. But you can spot some unsavory habits of mind in their prescriptions. For one thing, they possess an almost utopian faith in technology: online or “blended” learning; massive open online courses, or MOOCs; cool health apps; and so on. Their convictions seem sincere, but they also coincide nicely with the interests of the Silicon Valley venture-capital crowd. If you use technology to disrupt the delivery of public services, you open up new markets; you also replace human labor with the virtual kind, a happy thought for an investor…

Christensen and his fellow disruptors are making a category error. Not all civil services need to be hyper-efficient and bargain-basement and in a state of permanent revolution, especially when the private entities tasked with disrupting government operate largely outside public view. What the institutions of a democracy should do is attend to their many disparate constituents as effectively and inclusively and openly as possible without getting creatively destroyed in the process.

— It’s worth reading Columbia economist Joseph Stiglitz’s op-ed in last weeks The New York Times on the under-discussed reasons behind the fall of Detroit:

Detroit’s most serious problems are confined to the city limits. Elsewhere in the metropolitan area, there is ample economic activity. In suburbs like Bloomfield Hills, Mich., the median household income is more than $125,000. A 45-minute drive from Detroit is Ann Arbor, home of the University of Michigan, one of the world’s pre-eminent hubs of research and knowledge production…

Lacking regional political unity, there is no overall structure to improve the infrastructure and public services between poorer inner cities and affluent suburbs. So the poor fall back on what means they have, which is not good enough. Cars inevitably break down and buses are late, making workers appear to be “unreliable.” But what is really unreliable is the iniquitous design of the city. No wonder America is becoming the advanced industrial country with the least equality of opportunity…

Of course, the Great Recession and the policies that created it have made this, like so many other things, much worse. The mortgage bankers marched into large sections of some of our cities and found them good subjects for their predatory and discriminatory lending. Once the bubble burst, those cities were abandoned by all but the debt collectors and foreclosure sheriffs. Rather than saving our communities, our politicians focused more on saving the bankers, their shareholders and their bondholders.


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Ryan Chittum is a former Wall Street Journal reporter, and deputy editor of The Audit, CJR's business section. If you see notable business journalism, give him a heads-up at rc2538@columbia.edu. Follow him on Twitter at @ryanchittum.