So Murdoch & Co. have thrown in another towel. In the wake of the relentlessly unfolding News of the World phone-hacking scandal, Rupert Murdoch's News Corp. shuttered (this past Sunday) the 168-year-old British tabloid; it was a shocking move widely seen as the company's attempt to wash its hands of its inky sins in hopes of placating British regulators who would rule on the company's bid to acquire 100% of the British Sky Broadcasting (BSkyB) Group. But as reports have emerged that criminal phone-hacking may have been occurring at other News Corp. newspapers, the scandal has only intensified -- and now, as Ad Age Media Editor Nat Ives reports, News Corp. is abandoning its effort to gain total control of BSkyB.
Now the question is : How much more will the cancer metastasize?
Murdoch's British newspaper competitors would, of course, like to see the phone-hacking scandal not only doom more of his papers (some of which he's reportedly now considering selling), but perhaps even swamp the primarily non-newspapery conglomerate that is News Corp.
For instance, The Daily Telegraph -- owned by identical twin brothers Sir David and Sir Frederick Barclay -- ran a piece on Monday titled "Phone hacking: Twitter campaign calls for News Corp boycott" in which it claimed that "campaigners took to the internet in their droves to call for a complete boycott of News Corp."
How's that working out? Good question -- which brings me to this week's charticle, using data collected and parsed, as always, by our editorial partner Trendrr, the social-media monitoring firm:
- So far the Boycott-Murdoch movement is sort of a nothing sandwich. I asked Trendrr to monitor tweets using the term "#boycottmurdoch" (with and without the hash mark so we would also pick up tweets from and mentions of the @BoycottMurdoch Twitter account) as well as "boycott Murdoch." Yesterday a rollup of those terms saw just 452 tweets, with a one-hour peak of 150 tweets in the morning.
- As of this writing, @BoycottMurdoch has just 769 followers. It links to boycottmurdoch.com, which was mentioned in the Telegraph's coverage. And what a sad little placeholder of a site it is ! At the moment, a single text-only page reads, "This is the home of the Boycott Murdoch campaign. We registered this domain a few days ago, so we don't have a proper page yet. Just in case you find this site before launch day, we've knocked up this shambolic bare-bones page in Notepad just to explain what we're up to."
- To put things in context, since Thursday, a roll-up of terms attached to the News of the World phone-hacking scandal -- including "#rupertmurdoch," "murdoch," "news of the world," "#newsoftheworld," "milly dowler" and "#milly" (the murdered English schoolgirl whose voicemail was hacked by News of the World "journalists") -- has garnered an average of around 51,000 tweets per day, with a peak of 71,618 on Friday. Trendrr is tracking 22 terms related to the scandal for Ad Age ; we're adding more each day -- but this scandal, and the terminology associated with it, is morphing so quickly that our numbers surely underestimate the overall Twitter conversation.
- As for the Boycott News International Facebook page (News International is the News Corp. subsidiary that publishes Murdoch's British newspapers) mentioned in The Daily Telegraph's Monday report as having "nearly 8,000 members"? As of this writing -- drum roll, please -- it's up to, um, over 8,000 members. Or, more accurately (since there's actually no such thing as "membership" in this context): the page currently reads "8,707 people like this."
- For what it's worth, the top five countries that have been tweeting "Boycott Murdoch" (and "#boycottmurdoch") are the U.K., the U.S., Sweden, South Africa and Australia. So it's technically a global -- but so far tiny -- "movement."
Recent hourly tweet volume for "boycott murdoch" (including "boycottmurdoch" and "#boycottmurdoch")
Simon Dumenco is the "Media Guy" media columnist for Advertising Age. You can follow him on Twitter @simondumenco.