Professionalism/Sean Hoare and Andy Coulson

This chapter discusses the News of the World(NoW) phone hacking case, specifically the involvement of Sean Hoare and Andy Coulson. It also relates the case to the influence of organizational culture on the members of an organization.

Cast of CharactersEdit

News of the WorldEdit

News of the World was a popular British Sunday Tabloid known for its scandalous reports on celebrities and criminal cases, as well as politically influential articles [1][2]. The tradition of publishing on celebrity scoops and sex scandals earned NoW the nickname 'News of the Screws' [3]. In 2006, NoW began to be tainted when the public discovered its journalists were hacking phones to obtain private information for their reports [4]. In July 2010, NoW ceased publication due to the phone hacking scandal, and now, the official and inactive NoW website is an epitaph to the former newspaper giant: “The world’s greatest newspaper 1843-2011 / Thank You & Goodbye” [5]. Before ceasing publication in July 2011, after 168 years, NoW sold about 2.8 million copies a week[3].

Andy CoulsonEdit

Andy Coulson was promoted from deputy to chief editor of NoW in 2003 [6]. Coulson is known to have instilled a sense of hyper-competitiveness among his journalists,encouraging them to "do whatever it takes" to get a good story [7]. He resigned in 2007 on the same day that Clive Goodman, NoW's former royal editor, was jailed for illegal phone hacking [8]. He went on to work for Prime Minister David Cameron as the director of communications; however, he resigned on January 21, 2011 when questions about his role in illegal phone hacking during his time as editor of NoW resurfaced. His resignation also coincided with the conviction of Clive Goodman and private investigator Glenn Mulcaire for hacking the phones of the British royal household [9][10]. On July 8, 2011, Coulson was arrested for his connection with the "conspiracy to unlawfully intercept communications and payments to police officers." He continues to deny any awareness of or involvement with the illegal interceptions of phone messages during his time as NoW editor [11].

Sean HoareEdit

Sean Hoare was a journalist who worked under Andy Coulson, first at The Sun and later at NoW. Hoare admitted that he initially "...had a good relationship with Andy. He [Andy] would let me do what I wanted as long as I brought in a story [12]." In 2001, when Sean Hoare switched to writing for NoW in the show business section, he began to rely heavily on drugs and alcohol to achieve rapport with the subjects of his reports [13] [12]. After a few years of escalating substance abuse, his addictions resulted in his firing from NoW in 2005 [14].

In 2010 and 2011, Hoare announced that Andy Coulson knew of phone hacking and encouraged his journalists to do it, and that police had assisted NoW in the hacking [12]. In an interview with BBC World News, Hoare revealed,

Why don't you go practise some of your dark arts on this?

—Andy Coulson, according to Sean Hoare [15]

"I’ve stood by Andy [Coulson] and been requested to tap phones, to hack into them and so on. He was well aware that the practice exists. To deny it is a lie...It was always done in the language of, “Why don’t you practise some of your dark arts on this?” which was a metaphor for saying, “Go and hack into a phone.” Such was the culture of intimidation and bullying that you would do it because you had to produce results. And, you know, to stand up in front of a Commons committee and say, “I was unaware of this under my watch” was wrong [15]."

Hoare's opponents tried to use his substance abuse to discredit Hoare. One former colleague said "If you could imagine the stereotypical image of NoW hack, it would be him [Sean]... he loved the game and never recovered from losing his job. [16]" However, Hoare stood by his claims that Coulson was involved in and aware of the phone hacking [12]. Hoare passed away on July 17, 2011. His death was not reported as suspicious, but a result from the stress of paranoia of retribution and years of wear on his body from drugs and alcohol [17].


Scotland Yard, also known as the Metropolitan Police Service in London, is suspected of being "too cozy" with NoW during the investigation of the phone hacking scandal.[18] In particular, Scotland Yard hired former NoW chief executive, Neil Wallis, to work as a media consultant from 2009-2010. During this time, they did not reopen the investigation of the phone hacking case, despite fresh allegations.[18] Emails from Scotland Yard's Assistant Commissioner John Yates described NoW chief executive Neil Wallis as "great friend," "close adviser," and a "powerful opinion-former," indicating that NoW had considerable influence over the police force. [19] A number of police officers have resigned in the midst of the case, including John Yates and Dick Fedorcio, the Director of Public Affairs [19][20][21].

Chronicle of EventsEdit

2001 June Sean Hoare joins NoW as a show business reporter.[13]
2002 March Milly Dowler is abducted on her way home from school and 6 months later her body is found. Just days after her disappearance, NoW hacked Milly Dowler's phone and listened to desperate messages left by friends and family.[22]
2003 January Andy Coulson is promoted from deputy editor to editor of NoW. Under his watch, the phone hacking scandal began to emerge.
2005 Sean Hoare is fired from his job at NoW for his drug and alcohol problems.[16]
2005 November Aides of the royal family notice voice-mail messages that they had not listened to were marked as read. Simultaneously, messages verbatim to those on the royal family's phone appeared in the tabloids. The Royal family began to question how the tabloid obtained their private information. Scotland Yard was notified and an investigation began. [4]
2006 August Clive Goodman, NoW's royal editor, and Glenn Mulcaire, a private investigator, are charged with conspiracy to intercept communications without lawful authority. Evidence shows that NoW had an exclusive agreement for Mulcaire to use "electronic intelligence and eavesdropping" to obtain information on behalf of the newspaper. [23] Detectives seized thousands of phone and voicemail PINs of potential victims.
2007 January Goodman and Mulcaire are sentenced to prison. Coulson resigns as editor to take "ultimate responsibility," but still denies any knowledge of the phone hacking. [24]
2007 May Coulson is hired as the Director of Communications for the Conservative Party. Skepticism and distrust surround this decision. One member of Parliament said, "Just what sort of signal does that send to our supporters about the man we have chosen to communicate our message to the country?" [25]
2010 September The New York Times publishes an article in which Sean Hoare implicates Coulson in the phone hacking, saying he "actively encouraged me[Hoare] to do it." While admitting to phone hacking himself, Hoare spoke up because he felt it wasn't fair that only Mulcaire and Goodman took the blame for NoW's widespread hacking. Tabloids attempted to discredit Hoare with his past substance abuse; however, this interview with Hoare reopened the phone hacking investigation. Meanwhile, Coulson maintained his ignorance of the practice. [26]
2011 January Andy Coulson resigns amidst resurfacing questions about his role in the phone hacking during his time as editor of NoW. His resignation also coincided with the conviction of Clive Goodman and private investigator Glenn Mulcaire for hacking the phones of the British royal household.[9]
2011 July 7 Coulson is arrested in connection with the NoW phone hacking, while Prime Minister David Cameron calls for reform of the press [27]
2011 July 10 NoW ceases publication due to the phone hacking scandal. The official and inactive NoW website is now an epitaph to the former newspaper giant: “The world’s greatest newspaper 1843-2011 / Thank You & Goodbye” [5].
2011 July 16-18 Several top officers in the Metropolitan Police, including the commissioner, resign admitting mishandling of the phone hacking case. Allegations include bribery during the investigation and involvement of the police in the hacking itself [1]
2011 July 18 Sean Hoare is found dead in his home. His death is ruled not suspicious, but a result of ailing health from years of drug and alcohol abuse on the job. A reporter who saw Hoare shortly before his death described him as "ailing but defiant and funny. And no regrets. All-courage [14]."
2011-current The investigation is continuing to reveal people involved with phone hacking. A number of top officials from both NoW and Scotland Yard have been arrested as recently as May 2012 on the grounds that they were involved in the case [28].

Power of Organizational CultureEdit

Organizational Culture of NoWEdit

NoW aimed to elicit reactions from its readers and would use extreme measures to get the most sensational stories. There was a lot of pressure on the journalists to do anything to get a good story. Sean Hoare stated, “ have got to forget your professional duties and do what a sane person never contemplate to do. We are trained to become a machine of producing scoops, whatever is the cost [29]." This hyper-competitive culture is evidenced by Hoare's resorting to drugs and alcohol to get the insider's scoop on his celebrity subjects [13]. Also, when a whale was stranded in the Thames River, Coulson said “If he [the journalist] doesn’t get into that river and get a picture of us saving the whale...he doesn’t need to bother coming back [30].” Another situation where NoW journalists went to unprecedented ends was with NoW's "Named and Shamed" campaign. NoW published the names and photographs of a dozen child sex offenders with the goal of reducing crime by increasing awareness. This lead to violence, abuse, and riots against those mistaken as named sex offenders and actual offenders.[23][2] The mentality that the ends justified the means ultimately paved the way for phone hacking to be considered an acceptable method for obtaining information. Phone hacking became normalized deviance for NoW. As many reporters revealed in interviews "...hacking was pervasive at News of the World. ‘Everyone knew,’ one longtime reporter said. ‘The office cat knew.’[31]"

Overcoming the Power of Organizational CultureEdit

The power of organizational culture is not limited to journalism. Financial pressures to make a profit from years of research and development have caused many top pharmaceutical companies to market harmful drugs and implement deceitful marketing practices [32]. Vioxx was noted to have reduced gastrointestinal side effects relative to many other nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs. In the Vioxx scandal, Merck misrepresented data concerning serious cardiovascular risks to put Vioxx on the market and keep it there. In another case, Eli Lilly engaged in off-label marketing of Zyprexa. Zyprexa was approved for Schizophrenia and Bipolar Mania, but was also marketed for symptoms of agitation, hostility, aggression, depression, and sleep or mood disturbances. Eli Lily did not openly disclose the fact that Zyprexa had been shown to increase patients' risk of weight gain and diabetes. Frances Oldham Kelsey exemplifies someone who successfully opposed the pharmaceutical culture at the FDA to prohibit the approval of thalidomide without sufficient testing. By waiting to approve thalidomide, Frances Oldham Kelsey prevented the outbreak of phocomelia in the United States.

Lessons LearnedEdit

Organizational culture is a powerful force that determines the behavior of people within their organization. This culture can encourage either ethical behavior, such as upholding honor, or unethical behavior, such as the hacking at NoW. When an organization's culture promotes unethical behavior, professionals should pursue the strength to oppose the norms of their organization and seek what is right.


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  26. Van Natta, Don Jr., Becker, Jo and Graham Bowley, "Tabloid Hack Attack on Royals, and Beyond," The New York Times Magazine, 1 September 2010
  27. "Cameron vows press reform as arrest made in hacking scandal," CNN, 8 July 2011
  32. Professionalism/Eli_Lilly_and_Zyprexa