Two weeks ago, Rebekah Brooks had the ear of the Prime Minister, MP’s, leading businessmen and one of the world’s most powerful media moguls – now she finds herself jobless, arrested and bailed.
Having smashed all the glass ceilings in her way and bridged salary gaps as wide as Fleet Street, she came unstuck by the very thing that her former paper prided itself on, exposing the truth.
Brooks made her trade, her fortune and her reputation in an industry that relies on informants, backstabbing and exposes – an industry where a white knight needs to be whiter than white. It’s clear for all to see that Brooks has been found wanting in this department, but the former Chief Executive of News International is no stranger to being in the news, having provided her own scoop with the story of her arrest after attacking her then husband, Ross Kemp.
It was this very incident that provided an insight into just how much Brooks was prized by her boss, Rupert Murdoch, who allegedly had a designer suit to the police station so she would look her best when facing the press. Like many powerful figures in industry, ‘who you know’ is often a major part of your continued success and networking is a way of life.
When it came to building contacts and getting the story, Brooks was described by one of her former colleagues as a “Galaxy-class schmoozer. World-class doesn’t quite do it justice.” She was often at the home of David Cameron and counted the Blairs as close friends, no surprise to those who new her. Max Clifford described her as “loyal, generous and very genuine”, adding: “I have always found her to be a straight-up person. That is very, very rare in journalism.”
But you don’t just bump into Prime Ministers and politicians, you have to mix in the right circles and Brooks ensured this through her well-documented tenacity and ambition. As a teenager she worked at Eddie Shah’s ill-fated paper the Post as features secretary, where one of her editors, Tim Minogue, recalls a likeable, “skinny, hollow-eyed” girl who was “very, very, very ambitious”.
An article in the Guardian last week described one occasion, where “the paper had run a promotion offering bottles of supposedly aphrodisiac lager from a brewery in Strasbourg, which for some reason had been held up.”
“Rebekah volunteered to drive to Strasbourg, a 20-year-old in a clapped out Renault 5 or something, load up her car and drive back. At the time we thought that was quite a funny story, but in retrospect it’s quite telling about what she was prepared to do to get on.”
After the Post closed, Brooks started at the News of The World as a secretary, quickly moving up to a feature writer position and working under Piers Morgan, the then editor of the News of the World’s magazine. Morgan saw Brooks excel in the position and quickly promoted her up and out of journalistic work and into editing. At just 29 she was made deputy editor of the Sun and three years later became editor of the News of the World.
Her oft described meteoric rise to one of the most powerful positions in the media industry was completed in September 2009 when she was made chief executive by Rupert Murdoch. But just two years later and one week ago her career would take a nose dive, placing her out of a job and in Police custody, having been in charge of a paper that fell so woefully short of the resolute ethics it very much traded on.
Rebekah Brooks is one of many women who have worked hard, fought stereotypes and used ambition to get to positions of power in the Media industry. Like many big industry players, getting to the top requires equal measures of ruthlessness and talent. But those women residing at the helms of the world’s largest media groups agree that these two essential components must always be checked by ethics and integrity.
Rebekah Brooks From Birth To Bust
- Rebekah Wade was born in Daresbury, Cheshire in 1968
- Attended Appleton Hall County Grammar school in Warrington
- Decided she wanted to be a journalist at 14
- Worked for an architecture magazine in Paris and studied at the Sorbonne
- At 20 joined daily paper the Post as feature writer
- At 21 joined the News of The World as a secretary and went on to work on the NOTW magazine, working under Piers Morgan
- At 29 she was made deputy editor of the Sun
- At 32 she was given the role of editor of NOTW
- At 41 Rupert Murdoch made her Chief Executive of News International
- July 2011: resigns her position after phone hacking allegations and closure of NOTW