Following revelations of details of phone-hacking scandal involving the now defunct News of the World, a British tabloid published by Rupert Murdoch's News International, subsidiary of News Corporation, the latest revelation is the news that Murdoch also owns Zondervan, the world's largest bible publisher.
Details of the revelation shows that Zondervan is owned by Harper Collins Publishers a subsidiary of News Corporation owned by Rupert Murdoch. Against the backdrop of the phone-hacking scandal, the ownership of Zondervan by Rupert Murdoch is seen by many as raising ethical issues for a company which claims as its mission statement: ..glorify Jesus Christ and promote biblical principles through its publications.
Christian blogger Will Braun speaks of the Murdoch-Zondervan connection in a blog entry:
…many Christians see the Bible’s publishing stature as validation of their chosen faith, but a savvy entrepreneur could simply see it as a business opportunity. Or perhaps the 80-year-old Murdoch, like any shrewd businessman, wanted diverse investments – a diversity that in his case ranged from a cleavage-saturated tabloid that ran headlines like, ‘F1 Boss Has Sick Nazi Orgy With 5 Hookers’ to a publisher that offers Little Lamb’s Storybook Bible.
Brun voices the ethical dilemma many see as arising for Zondervan and Christians, especially in the context of the current scandal in which Murdoch's publishing empire is mired:
What are we to make of the fact that every time we buy a Zondervan product we contribute to Murdoch’s mogul-dom, which includes a personal fortune that Forbes pegged at $6.3 billion last year..The company owns exclusive North American print rights to the popular New International Version of the Bible which it says has sold over 300 million copies worldwide. Zondervan also publishes books by leading Christian authors like Rick Warren (over 30 million copies of his ‘Purpose Driven Life’ have been sold), Tim LaHaye, Eugene Peterson, Brian McLaren and Shane Claiborne.”
According to news reports, Zondervan has responded to the claims of its ethical dilemma with a statement by Tara Towers spokesperson for Zondervan:
This does not present an ethical dilemma for Zondervan as we will continue to operate with autonomy as we always have.We are fortunate to have strong and positive relationships with our authors.
The sordid details of revelations of phone-hacking and payments to police which forced the close-down of Murdoch's News of the World, broke gradually on the world, beginning from initial revelations in August 2006 when Clive Goodman, royal editor at the News of the World and private investigator Glenn Mulcaire were arrested over allegations that they had hacked phones of members of the British Royal Family in 2005. The scandal took a widening turn with a publication by The Guardian alleging activities of phone-hacking far more extensive than had previously been suspected with victims including such public figures as deputy prime minister John Prescott and Manchester United manager Alex Ferguson. It was also revealed that the victims included the murdered school girl Milly Dowler whose voice mail was hacked and, also, that the hackings were done with the knowledge of top officers of the News of the World including its editor Andy Coulson.