About 200 protesters gathered outside the annual News Corp. stockholder meeting in Los Angeles on Friday, some objecting to boss Rupert Murdoch’s handling of his news groups, and others - in the vein of Occupy Wall Street protests - decrying what they describe as corporate greed.
Protesters gathered at the entrance to the Twentieth Century Fox studio lot, hoping to catch the attention of the Murdoch family and News Corp. shareholders, who were meeting at the Darryl Zanuck Theater.
The protesters represented various groups - some wanting Murdoch, who is News Corp.’s chief executive and chairman, and the shareholders to "share" some of their wealth. Though they didn’t identify themselves as Occupy Wall Street protesters, their messages were similar to those heard at nationwide Occupy rallies, where people assert that the nation's wealthiest 1% hold inordinate sway over the remaining 99% of the population.
A 25-year-old protester, identifying herself only as Ashley, said she was there because the company represents money and power, which she believes can be used to help others.
"We want the funds to go back into our community to create good jobs," she said. "When you have a lot of money, you can do what you want with it."
Others, like protester Brianna Cayo Cotter, were more against Murdoch himself.
"We are here today to say the Murdochs need to be fired from the board. They have acted criminally irresponsible, and we are sick of it,” Cayo Cotter said, standing next to a man who was wearing a giant papier-mache Rupert Murdoch head.
Murdoch has been an object of scorn since revelations surfaced in July that journalists working for now-defunct British newspaper News of the World had hacked into the cell phone of a missing girl, deleting some of her messages to make room for more. The deletion of messages gave 13-year-old Milly Dowler's family hope that she was still alive when she was already dead.
On Friday, the paper’s publisher, News International, which is under News Corp.’s umbrella, announced it agreed to pay the equivalent of $3.2 million to the British teen’s family. Murdoch will pay $1.6 million to charities chosen by the Dowler family.
Murdoch did not enter the parking lot through the protesters' area, taking a different entrance. The protests were not mentioned at the meeting, but Murdoch addressed the hacking controversy:
“There is simply no excuse for such unethical behavior,” Murdoch said. “I am personally determined to right whatever wrong has been committed, and to ensure that it never happens again anywhere else in the company.”
Security for shareholders was tight. Attendees were taken onto the lot on buses. A security guard was on the bus that carried CNN’s Casey Wian, who was covering the meeting. Personnel searched Wian’s backpack, and he went through two metal detectors.
Police also were outside, not far from where the protesters were. More than a dozen officers with riot helmets stood across the street.
Last week, Murdoch was the target of protesters in San Francisco, where he was giving a keynote address at the National Summit on Education.