Audit Notes: News of the World’s thugs, Occupy impact, nonprofit news

Allegations that the paper's gumshoes broke into houses looking for dirt

What could go wrong when a Murdoch newspaper employs axe-murder suspects?

A lot, as we’ve already seen, and it may have been worse than we’ve yet known. The London Evening Standard reports that an ex-cop sent undercover to probe News of the World’s private investigators says they burglarized the house of “a newsworthy individual” to try to dig up dirt on them.

The Independent follows up by reporting that “Detectives have evidence which suggests that a notorious private detective agency carried out a burglary while working for the News of the World.”

And this background is very interesting:

There have long been concerns that, as well as phone hacking and police corruption, burglaries took place in an attempt to land stories.

Several public figures whose voicemail messages were hacked by the newspaper, including the actor Hugh Grant, the Football Association executive David Davies, and Paul Stretford, Wayne Rooney’s former agent, fell victim to break-ins where nothing was stolen. The Labour frontbencher Chris Bryant and other MPs are thought to have been similarly targeted.

— Compare how the conservative writer Reihan Salam treats the Occupy Wall Street movement compared to New York Times’s Andrew Ross Sorkin.


One year on, the encampments that had sprung up in Lower Manhattan and in cities, college campuses and foreclosed homes across the country have for the most part been abandoned. And so at least some observers are inclined to think, or to hope, that the Occupy movement has been of little consequence. That would be a mistake. Occupy’s enduring significance lies not in the fact that some small number of direct actions continue under its banner, or that activists have made plans to commemorate “S17” in a series of new protests. Rather, Occupy succeeded in expanding the boundaries of our political conversation, creating new possibilities for the American left.


It will be an asterisk in the history books, if it gets a mention at all…

But now, 12 months later, it can and should be said that Occupy Wall Street was — perhaps this is going to sound indelicate — a fad…

By the second or third time I went down to Zuccotti Park it became clear to me that Occupy Wall Street, which began with a small band of passionate intellectuals, had been hijacked by misfits and vagabonds looking for food and shelter.

Sorkin does partly acknowledge Occupy’s impact, but in a to-be-sure kind of way.

— In some long-awaited good news for the burgeoning nonprofit news sector, the IRS has finally given nonprofit tax status to San Francisco Public Press.

Going on a year ago I wrote about how SF Public Press and other startup news organizations were being hampered by inexplicable IRS delays in approving 501(c)(3) tax status approvals. Those delays raised questions about whether such approvals might never come as the IRS reconsidered whether nonprofit journalism was a tax-exempt activity under the law.

It took 32 months for approval in this case, and several others are still in limbo, but this is great news for all of nonprofit news.

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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 Follow him on Twitter at @ryanchittum. Tags: , , , ,