We all know Rebekah Brooks and the Murdoch clan have reconciled. Now the nice folk at News Corp want her to work in digital — somewhere in Europe perhaps, or possibly at HQ in New York on Sixth Avenue.
But suddenly, out of the blue, there’s been a flurry of stories in the UK media that Brooks could be headed back to The Sun, where she once ruled with an iron Manolo Blahnik or two. “Oh, no,” said folk at The Sun, recognising that Brooks would be the kiss of death for the red-top tabloid, especially in the run-up to a close UK general election, where her bestie, PM David Cameron, is under pressure from a host of nutters on the Right.
The Guardian reported overnight:
“In a statement, a spokesperson for News Corp said: ‘Discussions with Rebekah Brooks are ongoing, and focused on a potential new digital business for News Corp, but it’s premature to speculate about the details of a position that does not yet exist.’
“Her new role, which she has been negotiating with the News Corp owner since being cleared, is also unlikely to involve running Storyful, the Dublin-based social media news agency, according to sources.”
Brooks spent years at News International in the UK, rising from secretary to edit News of the World, The Sun, then as CEO of the business before the News of the World phone-hacking scandal brought her down and forced the publication to close.
Some media reports said she was spotted at The Sun‘s new London HQ a week or so ago, while others said she was going to run The Sun’s digital side, which is seen as the only way to arrest the continuing decline in sales of the paper and its Sunday stablemate.
The key quote in The Guardian story (which echoes sentiment elsewhere in the UK media and online) was this:
“Rupert Murdoch is understood to be concerned about falling circulation at the title — which is now well below 2 million a day and still falling — as well as its continued support for the Conservative party. An announcement about the new role could be politically sensitive this close to an election.”
What Rupert wants, Rupert gets. Watch this space.
Appointing Brooks to a senior editorial or managerial role in the UK would be incendiary to say the least, and a two-fingered rejection of the Leveson Inquiry into the media and attempts to rein in the power of the tabloids and other newspapers.
Reports of Brooks’ return to the News Corp fold first emerged in The Guardian last October. Last month, she was said to be “close” to finalising a role, with unconfirmed reports that she would be heading Storyful, started by former RTE current affairs presenter Mark Little. Brooks has been seen in News Corp offices on both sides of the Atlantic and in senior industry meetings held in Las Vegas, among other places.
Reports of Brooks’ possible return to The Sun came after she met Victoria Newton, editor of The Sun on Sunday, earlier this month. There has been speculation that the newspaper’s content, including the mostly online-only page 3, could be exploited more online.