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Words in the news: Phone Hacking

As part of a new series on the blog, we’ll be looking at interesting vocabulary in the news. As well as explaining what the key words mean, we'll also fill you in on the background to the story. This week, we’re looking at the Phone Hacking Scandal in the UK.

The Story

In a nutshell, some journalists working for The News of the World newspaper, one of Britain’s best-selling tabloids, have been illegally listening to people’s voicemail messages.  This is known as phone-hacking.  Police have a list of 4,000 possible hacking targets, including celebrities, sports stars, politicians, victims of crime and even members of the Royal Family.

Here is a video explaining the story in more detail. The video mentions that the story is trending - this means that a lot of people are writing about it on social networking sites such as Facebook or Twitter.  It could also mean that many people are searching for it on the internet.

The row over phone-hacking led to a lot of bad publicity for the News of the World, with many companies pulling their advertisements.  On the 7th July it was announced that The News of the World would close after 168 years of existence.  The fallout from the scandal has also led to political debate and questions about press regulation, media ownership, the police, and relationships between politicians and journalists.

You can find a summary of the story here.  If you would like some more information on the language of newspapers, check out our language tip here.

Thanks for reading.

By Andy


to fill sby in - (phr.v.) to give somebody the latest information

in a nutshell - (idiom) to summarize the key points

tabloids - (n.) newspapers which report a lot of celebrity news and gossip

phone hacking - (adj.+n.) the act of illegally listening to a person's voicemail messages

trending - (adj.) used to describe a word or phrase which is being posted multiple times on social networking sites

row - (n.) a dispute or argument.  The pronunciation rhymes with "now"

to pull an advertisement - (vb.phr.) to withdraw or remove an advertisement from publication/broadcast

fallout - (n.) the effects or results of a negative event/experience

press regulation (adj.+n.) the act of creating rules to control what can be published by newspapers

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