Following close on the heels of the news that Rebekah Brooks has stepped down from her post as CEO of News Corp.’s British newspaper division, Rupert Murdoch has finally met with the family of Milly Dowler, the murdered girl whose voice mails News of the World reporters hacked into. He’s also issued a full-page apology ad to be printed in British newspapers, with a huge “We are sorry” at the very top, and signed by Murdoch himself.
The ad also contains the line “I realise that simply apologizing is not enough,” but at least for now, apologizing seems to be the main thrust of News Corp.’s containment plan. The ad, however, promises “concrete steps” in the days ahead. It seems to be a strategy that coincides with the hire of Edelman, a PR firm known for its corporate-crisis work. (An Edelman team once let a reporter tag along on a simulation exercise, where she learned such strategies as “I tell clients if there’s been a tragic incident, make sure they have a female spokesperson. They convey compassion more effectively.” So will we see Wendi Murdoch weighing in soon?) Contrition certainly seems to be the chosen mode for News Corp. suddenly, but it’s certainly easier to say sorry than admit culpability — and they are actually very different things, as Murdoch is no doubt aware.