News Corp's Rupert Murdoch closed "News of the World" in 2011. / William West, AFP/Getty Images
Andy Coulson, former editor of Rupert Murdoch's now-defunct British tabloid News of the World and ex-communications chief for British Prime Minister David Cameron, was convicted Tuesday of conspiring to hack phones.
But his wasn't the only conviction at the high-profile hacking trial in London.
A guilty verdict was entered against a certain approach to journalism, one where all that matters is getting the scoop, the sexy, often salacious story that no one else has.
It's certainly a condemnation of the British tabloid culture, whose pressures impelled the News of the World to listen in on the conversations of unknowing citizens to uncover their deepest, darkest secrets.
But it's also a valuable cautionary tale for journalism in general.
In the ferociously competitive, rapid-fire world of today's digital journalism, the perceived need to get something up quickly is enormous. So is the determination to find stories that will prove irresistible to an extremely large number of eyeballs.
This phenomenon, of course, is hardly new to journalism. It just happens to be on steroids in the current era.
Fierce competition can lead to powerful, important stories in the public interest. But it also can lead to bottom-feeder trash that does no one any good.
And it can create a desperation that leads to the cutting of corners, the evisceration of standards and not just in the form of phone-hacking. Think of all of the plagiarism and fabrication disgraces that have marked our recent journalism history.
The News of the World had collected many scalps. But the need to satisfy that voracious appetite impelled it to set up an elaborate hacking structure featuring private investigator Glenn Mulcaire.
Certainly Tuesday's verdict could have been much, much worse for Murdoch, who in the summer of 2011 seemed like he might be felled by the exploding scandal.
There were a number of acquittals, most significant that of Rebekah Brooks, Coulson's predecessor as editor of News of the World and a person so highly regarded by Murdoch that, at the height of the scandal, he famously declared her as his top priority.
But the episode is a vivid reminder that bad behavior often has real-world consequences. And the mogul at the top, while he has endured, has paid a price. Murdoch was forced to shutter the News of the World, once Britain's highest-circulation newspaper. He endured brutal scrutiny during the Leveson Inquiry into the episode. He has been forced to pay hundreds of millions of pounds in lawsuits filed by hacking victims and legal bills.
And Coulson, who presided over the highflying News of the World and was a top aide to a British prime minster - what was Cameron thinking when he hired him in the wake of the scandal? - faces a stint in the slammer.
Read the original story: Rieder: A guilty verdict for sleazy journalism