News Corp. knocks some wind out of James Murdoch’s sails as phone-hacking scandal continues to grow

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James and Rupert Murdoch. ()
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James Murdoch has stepped down from his perch as executive chairman of News International, the British publishing unit of his father Rupert Murdoch's multinational media empire, and the part of the business that has been at the center of the ongoing phone-hacking and bribery scandal that has embroiled Britain especially over the last year.

The news release from parent company News Corp. barely breaks a sweat spinning the story as a natural outcome of the younger Murdoch's move to New York; in fact, everyone knows it comes in the wake of increasingly specific allegations that he was complicit in phone-hacking activities by News International journalists (and News Corp. knows everyone knows it, so why try?).

“He has demonstrated leadership and continues to create great value at Star TV, Sky Deutschland, Sky Italia, and BSkyB," said News Corp. chairman Rupert Murdoch, in a statement. "Now that he has moved to New York, James will continue to assume a variety of essential corporate leadership mandates, with particular focus on important pay-TV businesses and broader international operations.”

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But the shakeup only seems to further cement speculation that James Murdoch's chances of eventually succeeding his father to run the company have been significantly reduced, possibly even to nil.

James Murdoch, for his part, said he was "confident about the tremendous momentum we have achieved under the leadership of my father and Tom Mockridge,” who will continue in his post as C.E.O. of News International. "With the successful launch of The Sun on Sunday"—which Rupert Murdoch personally oversaw in London last weekend—"and new business practices in place across all titles, News International is now in a strong position to build on its successes in the future. As Deputy Chief Operating Officer, I look forward to expanding my commitment to News Corporation’s international television businesses and other key initiatives across the Company.”

In other news...

News Corp. stock rose on the announcement of James Murdoch stepping down from News International. [Poynter]

Company executives weighed a spinoff of the company's publishing business. [Bloomberg News]

Weeks after leaving News Corp., Teri Everett lands at Time Inc. as E.V.P. of corporate communications. [The Hollywood Reporter]

"The Wall Street Journal today announced plans to launch CIO Journal, a premium news and information service for chief information officers and senior business executives interested in technology. Set to launch in the spring, the service will provide coverage of real-time news and ongoing topics that are highly relevant for senior business technology executives." [via press release]

In the April issue of Vanity Fair, Sarah Ellison writes about the "embattled" Washington Post, including interviews with publisher Katharine Weymouth, editor Marcus Brauchli, C.E.O. Donald Graham and stakeholder Warren Buffett, who tells her: "One of the things that’s existed over time which I’m sure you’re aware of is that the newsroom, kindled by what happened at Watergate, liked to think of themselves as national. And they are national, in an important respect, but they’re not national as a business. And they don’t have a business model that works nationally.” [via press release]

Mitt Romney won Michigan and Arizona last night; meanwhile, Ann Romney wants to "strangle" the news media. [The Huffington Post]

Perhaps starting with an Economist reporter, who was reportedly detained and cuffed at Romney's Michigan victory rally last night? [The Huffington Post]

NBC News is the only outlet still covering Ron Paul full-time. [Dylan Byers]

Michael Calderone digs into the latest newspaper treatments of the A.P.'s NYPD Muslim surveillance series. [The Huffington Post]

Two laid-off former longtime Daily News photographers are suing the paper. [New York Observer]

HBO and Michael Mann have created a documentary series about conflict photographers. [Arts Beat]

Businessweek.com gets a makeover. [Adweek]

The Daily is serious about those nondisclosure agreements all of its staffers signed. [Romenesko]

"A particular feature of the current Occupy moment, coming as it has after a decade of downsizing in journalism," writes Carla Murphy, "is that the journalists least able to tussle with the criminal justice system—young, alternative, lacking institutional backing, or struggling to pay rent, let alone legal fees—are also the ones who have had to do so." [Columbia Journalism Review]

"Is Twitter breaking news now? Is that a thing?," asks Barb Palser. "Unless Twitter employs people who source and fact-check the information that ricochets through its network, the answer is no." [American Journalism Review]

Dan Savage gets an air date for his new MTV show. [The Wrap]