The committee that oversees editorial independence at News Corp.’s Dow Jones & Co. unit said it has found “absolutely no sign of journalistic misconduct” among Dow Jones employees.
The committee responded to a letter yesterday from U.S. Senators Barbara Boxer and Jay Rockefeller, who asked the panel whether senior News Corp. executives in the U.S. knew about or were complicit in the phone hacking scandal now engulfing the company in the U.K.
“Our focus from the outset has been on insuring that the highest standards of journalistic ethics are being met at the Wall Street Journal and Dow Jones Newswires,” the committee said in a statement e-mailed late yesterday by its chairman, Thomas Bray, the former editorial page editor of the Detroit News.
“In conversations with countless present and former Dow Jones employees we have found absolutely no sign of journalistic misconduct such as is at the heart of the scandal in London,” the statement said.
Boxer, a California Democrat, and Rockefeller, a West Virginia Democrat who chairs the Senate Commerce Committee, also requested information from the committee about the hiring of Les Hinton, who resigned as chief executive officer of Dow Jones on July 15.
Hinton was chairman of News Corp.’s U.K. newspaper unit News International for 12 years until 2007, giving him a leading role at the division during the time when the alleged hacking took place. Hinton started as chief executive officer of Dow Jones in December 2007 and was given the additional title of publisher of the Wall Street Journal in May 2008, according to Dow Jones spokeswoman Ashley Huston.
“The American people need to be reassured that this kind of misconduct has not occurred in the United States and that senior executives at News Corporation properties in our country were not aware of or complicit in any wrongdoing,” Boxer and Rockefeller wrote in their letter.
The Dow Jones special committee did not investigate “Hinton’s activities in London, which were investigated there in the past and are the subject of renewed focus now,” the committee said in its statement. The panel said it is aware of the letter from the senators and “will reply to them in due course.”
The committee said in a July 15 statement that it didn’t see any relationship between Hinton’s resignation and his tenure at Dow Jones or the Wall Street Journal. The committee was formed in 2007 to monitor journalistic integrity and independence at the newspaper after News Corp.’s $5.2 billion purchase of Dow Jones.
Huston, the Dow Jones spokeswoman, declined to comment on the special committee’s statement. News Corp. spokeswoman Teri Everett did not respond to a request for comment.
The Federal Bureau of Investigation is probing whether employees of New York-based News Corp. sought unauthorized access to voice-mail accounts of victims of the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attack on the World Trade Center.