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How the press reported the Dowler scandal

<em>Daily Telegraph</em>, <em>Independent</em> and the <em>Mail</em> all go big on the story. . . wh

Daily Telegraph

Daily Telegraph front page 

The scandal features prominently on the front page of the Daily Telegraph. The article does not comment explicitly, although it does use quotes which indirectly convey sincere disapproval. The Dowler family's lawyer is quoted, calling the hacking "heinous" and "despicable", while similar comments from Labour MP Tom Watson are also included.

The Telegraph emphasises the distinction between previous celebrity-targeted phone-tapping incidents and the new milestone of depravity reached here, prompting emphasis on alleged phone-tapping in other criminal cases, notably the Soham Murders (which former News of the World journalist expands on here).

While this distinction does undoubtedly exist, it is unsurprising that the Telegraph would wish to distance other perceived breaches of privacy from this "despicable" incident; last December, the Telegraph secretly taped and published a revealing meeting between Vince Cable and undercover reporters posing as constituents, and failed to reveal Cable's critical comments about Rupert Murdoch.

The Times

The Times 

The Milly Dowler case has a lead on the front page and continues on page three as a full-page story. The then editor of News of the World, Rebekah Brooks, is only briefly mentioned in the article, in comparison to the Guardian, which dedicated half of a page to discussing her involvement in the phone hacking. However in this brief mention, Rebekah is portrayed as a victim, rather than someone to take the blame. The Times reminds readers that Brooks's "own mobile phone messages were intercepted".

The Times is careful to point out that the News of the World phone hacking was "alleged". In the same way the phone messages "appeared to have been deleted", and even then only "some messages" had been deleted. Other newspapers, such as the Guardian - which broke the original story - leave no room to doubt the messages had been deleted and reported that her voicemail had been cleared entirely.

Daily Mail

Daily Mail 

The Daily Mail's coverage was headlined "Parents fury over claims newspaper hacked into Milly's Phone" and had a lead on the front page. The report focuses on Milly Dowler's parents, who branded the News Of The World "despicable". The family tell of how outraged they are that they were clung to "false hope" that their daughter was still alive and erasing the voicemails, when in fact she was dead.


The Independent 

"Rebekah Brooks has some explaining to do now," was the message from Ian Burrell, media editor at the Independent. The newspaper is very critical of Rebekah Brooks, News International's current chief executive and editor of the News of the World when the alleged hacking took place. Burrell says that the phone hacking scandal is not something that can't just be excused for accruing celebrity gossip. This is far more serious.