Les Hinton, the top executive of Rupert Murdoch’s?Dow Jones?& Co, resigned after becoming one of the targets of criticism for the phone-hacking scandal that occurred when he oversaw News Corp’s British newspapers, the company said.
Mr. Hinton said that he was “ignorant of what apparently happened” at the company’s tabloid newspapers earlier in the decade. He characterized his lack of knowledge as “irrelevant” and said it was “proper” for him to step down.
Mr. Hinton’s announcement came hours after Rebekah Brooks, the embattled chief executive of News International, News Corp.’s U.K.newspaper unit, resigned. She acknowledged the reputation of the company was “at risk.”
The resignations of Ms. Brooks and Mr. Hinton?both trusted lieutenants to CEO Rupert Murdoch? were part of an aggressive new damage-control campaign by the media company, which also publishes The Wall Street Journal.
Hinton ran News International, News Corp.’s British newspaper unit, for 12 years before moving to Dow Jones in 2007.
Hinton, 67, had worked alongside Murdoch for more than five decades. He spent his entire career working for Murdoch, starting as a reporter at the Adelaide News in Australia. Legend has it that he used to collect Murdoch’s sandwiches.
A person close to the company described Hinton as “the ultimate company man” who in recent days had come to the conclusion that someone had to take full responsibility for the hacking that occurred under his watch.
Just a day after asserting that News Corp. had made only “minor mistakes,” Murdoch issued an apology to run in Britain’s national newspapers for “serious wrongdoing” by the News of the World, which he shut down last week amid allegations of large-scale illegal hacking by its staff.
“We are sorry for the serious wrongdoing that occurred. We are deeply sorry for the hurt suffered by the individuals affected. We regret not acting faster to sort things out,” said the full-page ad, signed by Murdoch and due to run in Saturday’s editions of Britain’s main national newspapers.
Murdoch promised “further concrete steps to resolve these issues and make amends for the damage they have caused.”
Murdoch also met the family of murdered schoolgirl Milly Dowler, whose phone was hacked by the News of the World in 2002. The revelation that journalists had accessed her phone in search of scoops inflamed the long-simmering scandal about illegal eavesdropping by the newspaper.
The company first shut down the News of the World and then abandoned a bid to take control of BSkyB in a bid to limit the damage to the greater News Corp. empire, which includes Fox News, the 20th Century Fox movie studio, the Wall Street Journal, the New York Post and the three remaining British newspapers — The Sun, The Times and The Sunday Times.
The crisis is far from over.
This week Cameron appointed a judge to conduct a sweeping inquiry into criminal activity at the paper and in the British media.
Mr. Hinton took over Dow Jones on the cusp of historic revenue declines across the newspaper industry. News Corp. executives on Friday credited him for stabilizing the company financially and averting the deep cuts that hit many of its competitors. “In the most turbulent of times for ‘old’ media, Les steered us back into profitability and made us a digital force around the world,” Robert Thomson, the editor in chief of Dow Jones and managing editor of The Wall Street Journal, wrote in a note to staff. Dow Jones & Co. is publisher of The Wall Street Journal.
Now there is an uncertainty as to who will lead Dow Jones as the successor of Les Hinton.
News Corp, parent of Dow Jones, has been at the center of a storm over a voice mail hacking scandal at its tabloid News of the World.
Sources: WSJ, abclocal