Friday, 15 July 2011

Is Alan Rusbridger Britain's Ben Bradlee?

As the Guardian's hacking investigation gained another scalp today with the departure from News International of Rebekah Brooks, US ad industry mag ADWEEK is comparing Guardian editor-in-chief Alan Rusbridger to the legendary Washington Post editor Ben Bradlee of Watergate fame.

ADWEEK says that in Rusbridger Murdoch has "met his match" and his company is now in peril "and none of that would have happened were it not for the fierce, dogged persistence of Alan Rusbridger and The Guardian, the newspaper he runs."

ADWEEK adds: "But if you had to pick a man for this role from Central Casting, you almost certainly wouldn't pick Rusbridger. Ben Bradlee, The Washington Post editor who ran that other legendary investigation once upon a time, was a man who looked the part—the kind of man who, his own reporters once said, would "grind his cigarettes out in a demitasse cup during a formal dinner party." Rusbridger, 57, is different—he looks more like Harry Potter's lonely uncle than the kind of man capable of bringing down Rupert Murdoch.

"But he was willing to stick with the phone hacking scandal even when it seemed like no one outside The Guardian cared at all. All told, the paper has been on this story for five years now. Though it looks like a wise investment in retrospect, those were five years during which Rusbridger was sacrificing not only money but the time and efforts of some of his best reporters for a story that could very well have gone nowhere."

What Murdoch thinks of Rusbridger:

According to Murdoch biographer Michael Wolff: "Murdoch did not know quite what to make of Rusbridger and his Internet ambitions, seeing him as something quite different from a newspaper man, at least one in the Murdoch mold. He did not insult Rusbridger, as he does most of his competitors, but he didn’t quite regard him as someone he might ever want to be alone with either: 'Kooky,' was his description. 'And what’s with the way his hair falls in his face?' Murdoch asked once, scowling in his dark way, about Rusbridger’s bangs and mop-top. 'How old is he? He looks like a kid'.”

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