Radio duo don’t have blood on their hands over nurse’s suicide. It’s more complicated than that

  • Lifeline: Call 13 11 14

More than 20 years ago, when I was a junior reporter, my news editor told me something that had happened to him perhaps 20 years before that. The story has always haunted me a little.

He took a phone call from a politely spoken man. This man had appeared in court that morning, and was concerned that his relatively minor misdemeanour – perhaps it was drink driving, although I can’t remember – would appear in the paper, which he would find terribly embarrassing. The news editor explained that the paper, which was a respectable local broadsheet, felt it had a duty to the public to cover every case that came in front of it.

The man politely thanked him for his time and hung up. And killed himself.

Over the years, I’ve thought about this a lot.

My news editor’s reasoning then was that an important part of the local justice system was that it was seen to be done. And you couldn’t pick and choose who you did and didn’t write about based on whether they rang you up or not.

I must confess that in my five years or so of regularly covering court, I wasn’t quite as strong minded as my boss. I remember once deliberately not writing about an elderly man who was done for shoplifting because I started to think about how his family would feel.

And in another case a (then) senior BBC executive was prosecuted over a consensual incident in a men’s toilets. I wrote the story but left out his job and luckily for him, the nationals didn’t pick it up. I still worry I was unprofessional in doing so though.

Over the years, I’ve tried to work on the principle that your job as a journalist is to try to tell it as you see it to the reader. Even if that means angering a contact or upsetting somebody who wishes they weren’t the subject of your coverage.

For journalists, I’m not sure there’s any other principle that works.

Of course, the reason I’m talking about this is the tragic news from the UK that a nurse involved in the Today Network Royal phone call prank has killed herself.

My first reaction of course is horror. It’s awful.

And in terms of cause and event, then it’s hard to get past the thought that if the poor woman had not been unlucky enough to pick up the telephone then she might not now be dead.

And that’s something that presenters Michael Christian – on his very first day with the show – and Mel Greig will always have to live with.

But let’s also remember that it was pre-recorded and a production team, lawyers and managers all gave the go ahead before this was broadcast.

By the way, I wasn’t a fan of the stunt. Not because of the prank itself which was mildly amusing, but because it unnecessarily included personal treatment information about the Princess. It was minor, unembarrassing information, but when it comes to medical history, that’s not for anyone to say.

So I was surprised when earlier this week I checked the radio codes of practice, and found that the rules around privacy only cover news broadcasts. If a music presenter want to read out a pop star’s medical notes on air without their permission then as far as I can see, there’s nothing in the radio codes to stop them.

These radio codes are drawn up by the radio industry itself in a co-regulatory regime with the Australian Communications and Media Authority. The rules tend to only get amended each time something happens. The Kyle Sandilands lie detector incident is an example of that.

I’ve always thought of it as something of a cosy arrangement for the radio industry. But in this case, tighter rules would have saved the Today Network from the situation it now finds itself in. As I write, the calls for an advertiser boycott have already begun.

And after the power of the boycott against Alan Jones – I initially thought it would have little impact; I was wrong – I think there’s likely to be a significant public backlash and commercial impact.

It comes just as the network was getting back on the front foot from Kyle Sandilands’ attack on the News Limited journo. As I write this, I’ve had 2Day FM on in the background to see how their news bulletins handle the tragedy. Before they mentioned it at all, I’d heard them running the same trailer painting Kyle Sandilands as a saint who helps the abused and the homeless four times.

It will be interesting to see how much backing Greig and Christian get from SCA. Unlike Kyle Sandilands, who has a market leading share of the breakfast market, they have much less commercial value for the network.

But all of this bad behaviour, does not mean that the network – or the presenters – are guilty of killing the nurse. The level of global coverage it generated, could not have been foreseen at the start of the week.

The subject came up in a post on Gawker a few days ago about suicide and the media. This came after the Tampa Bay Times wrote – entirely with her cooperation – a story about a woman’s embarrassing medical condition. She killed herself a day after publication.

As the writer of the Gawker piece Hamilton Nolan put it:

“Suicides can have many contributing factors—depression, drugs, hopelessness, grief, etc. Rendering a one-dimensional portrait of a suicide’s cause is simplistic and inaccurate, and unfair to those upon whom the blame is laid. If a troubled teenager commits suicide because she “hates her parents,” should we hound those parents into their own grave with guilt? No. We recognize that the victim’s troubles ran deeper. Likewise, the media has a job to do, and it does it. This particular case was far from sensational tabloid journalism. But even sensational tabloid journalism is not, on its own, enough to “force” anyone to suicide.”

And he adds: “The second problem is in the ethical implications of assuming that media coverage can cause suicides. Were that true, it would follow that the media has a responsibility to do everything it can to avoid causing suicides. After all, a human life is more important than any particular news story. That would mean that journalists would need to consider the possible (unforeseeable, unknowable, theoretical) effects of their reporting on anyone they wrote about. Would this story send its subject over the edge? Would exposing a politician’s malfeasance make him take his own life?”

I can certainly think of plenty of Australian politicians under that sort of pressure because of the legal issues in which they are entangled. But letting them off the hook because we worry for their potential mental health, would be good for nobody.

Clearly when all of this is only the name of light entertainment, the justification is harder to make.

Change is needed. Australian radio’s rules around privacy need to be extended beyond news bulletins.

This has now got serious enough for ACMA to step in, rather than wait for the Today Network to deal with the complaints first.

But, tempting as it is, let’s not slaughter Mike Christian and Mel Greig. They will now always have to live the fact that while they didn’t kill this woman, they set a chain of events in motion that had a terrible ending. Surely that’s enough to deal with.

Tim Burrowes

  • Lifeline: Call 13 11 14


  1. Bill Posters
    8 Dec 12
    8:39 am

  2. “Clearly when all of this is only the name of light entertainment, the justification is harder to make.”

    Not so much harder as impossible. There’s a gigantic difference between a straight news report of a court proceeding and a bit of sniggering nonsense like this. I worry about your news judgment if you really think they’re even remotely comparable.

    As for not “slaughtering” – a poor choice of word given the situation – the two DJs, too late. They’ve already been done over in the court of public opinion.

  3. Say what?
    8 Dec 12
    8:39 am

  4. Yes you goddamn DO have a responsibility to ensure your actions won’t damage someone mental health. It’s called your humanity, and any journalist that uses their job title to exclude themself from the human race and elevate themself to something higher than human is misguided, arrogant and detached.

  5. Juliet Jones
    8 Dec 12
    8:52 am

  6. Good article. However no one knows what this poor nurses treatment from her employers was. Sometimes employers and senior management can have far more effect on a persons life than the media ever could. I wonder if The Establishment need to look at themselves in this horrible event.

  7. Wen
    8 Dec 12
    8:52 am

  8. Tim, I think you’re conflating the role of journalists and the role of radio show hosts, pranksters and shock jocks. Journalists have a professional responsibility to report the distasteful. Radio presenters on breakfasts/drive shows don’t have the same responsibility to create it.

  9. Matt
    8 Dec 12
    8:58 am

  10. Disagree. Where you are advocating is a journalists right to cover the news (no matter how icky). The situation here is that 2DayFM created a situation where they were entertained by duping an unsuspecting person to reveal intimate medical details about one of the worlds most famous women to millions of people, without any thought of the emotional turmoil that could be suffered by that poor woman.

  11. Mel
    8 Dec 12
    8:58 am

  12. Well said, Tim.

    Through all of 2Day’s recent scandals, people seem to forget there are producers, content directors and management behind the scenes approving what goes to air.

    Do you think Kyle Sandilands wants to be ambushed on air by a teenager on a lie detector admitting she’s been raped? Of course not.

    The producers responsible for selecting and pre-interviewing the contestants, and who decided to do the segment live, are the ones at fault in this example. Similarly, any time Kyle says something stupid on air, there’s a number of producers sitting by with a ‘dump’ button doing nothing.

    It’s no secret that radio stations pay pretty poorly… But, if they want to keep hiring ex-street team members instead of experienced producers – then these issues will keep happening!

  13. Paul
    8 Dec 12
    9:05 am

  14. It’s not in any way the same thing.


    He called the paper, but in this case, the media outlet called her.

  15. Gnanes
    8 Dec 12
    9:11 am

  16. 2Day FM have shoved the 2 hosts right under the bus and blamed them for everything.

  17. Rob
    8 Dec 12
    9:19 am

  18. As others have said this wasn’t journalism. It was deliberate public humiliation of a stranger for a laugh – quite clearly a form of bullying and nothing to do with journalism whatsoever. No thought was given either for the potential impact on the unwilling recipient of the call or the potential impact on a young mother-to-be undoubtedly apprehensive at bringing a child into the world so publicly. Blame and responsibility does rest significantly with the pair and all involved (including ACMA for allowing on- air bullying to continue largely unchecked)

  19. James B
    8 Dec 12
    9:20 am

  20. Juliet Jones – For your information, the hospital didn’t suspend or discipline the nurse. The Royal Family didn’t make a complaint, in fact the opposite – they offered their support. These two DJ’s put the wheels in motion. Granted’ they didn’t know it would end so tragically. However if they believed there would be no consequences to their actions,then they are not only irresponsible but also stupid. They need to now face their consequences. Which they have to live with this for the rest of their lives, that they started something that caused this young woman to end her life. But everyone involved from the producers, managers, radio show owners and lawyers who gave the go ahead, must hold their hands up and take responsibility for playing a part in how we got to today’s events. Then they need to take whatever consequences come.

  21. David
    8 Dec 12
    9:24 am

  22. You are very wrong in comparing the actions of a news journalist to the behaviour of these djs. What public interest was being served? Most galling is their smug bragging about how their poor accents were believed when English was not her first language. Big questions over security and protocol but let’s not forget their ultimate target was a sick pregnant woman. Defend news journalists absolutely but do not legitimise these people with them

  23. here her
    8 Dec 12
    9:33 am

  24. Tim,

    This is probably the best article I’ve read from you, I couldn’t have said it better, you nailed it.

  25. Brent
    8 Dec 12
    9:47 am

  26. Sorry, but when you say the level of coverage could not have been anticipated – are you kidding me?

    A radio station, successfully getting through to a nurse who divulged personal & private details of The Duchess of Cambridge’s health?

    You seriously don’t think those listening to the recording deciding whether to put it to air didn’t realise this would create a world-wide media storm?

    Give me a break.

  27. Rob
    8 Dec 12
    9:50 am

  28. I’m surprised that the radio hosts have copped as much as they have for this. Firstly the prank wasn’t all that bad at all, but was really the fault of the hospital that the info was released. Even if it was unethical to try and get medical information, the hospital shouldn’t be handing it out over the phone to anyone without some identity verification. It seems like the Chaser stunt at APEC where they couldn’t actually believe they were let through.

    They’re certainly not liable for the suicide of the nurse. Most certainly it would be a terrible feeling knowing that they’re somehow associated with it, but as Juliet said above, the real pressure has probably come from her management and the prospect of losing her job. It’s not the radio hosts’ fault – anyone else guilty of quite serious incompetence in their job would also find their employment being questioned. Most people don’t kill themselves when put in that position though.

  29. Jeff
    8 Dec 12
    9:55 am

  30. With respect Tim, you seem to be missing / avoiding the central point here, that Matt (8.58am) has picked up on. It is this: This radio duo deliberately set out to take advantage of the good nature of the young nurse, Jacintha Saldanha. It is one thing to play a prank or a practical joke on a friend whose sensibilities and frailties you are probably already aware of. It is an entirely different thing to take advantage of Jacintha, to take advantage of anyone in the manner they did. To do so is inconsiderate, opportunistic and exploitative of that person’s vulnerabilities.
    It is plainly not funny.

  31. Cathy Johnson
    8 Dec 12
    10:20 am

  32. Tim, wheels come off when amateurs run wild in an industry with few standards and guidelines. Radio’s DNA centres on creative sound and imagery not stunts and pranks that are intended to humiliate or cause embarrassment. Your editor’s phone call doesn’t quite parallel with this case because your editor didn’t set out to have fun at the expense of the man who died. Each of us should take responsibility for the ramifications of our deeds and in this case Austereo has cheered on deplorable anti-social behaviours because it doesn’t know how to attract an audience unless it creates a crisis. 2DAY FM’s regular walks on the wild side are the tip of the media iceberg. And they come at great cost to not just listeners but the wider community.

  33. Susan
    8 Dec 12
    10:23 am

  34. I feel a little taken aback at how several Aussies with access to the media have taken the effort today to distance these two radio people from the suicide. When people play pranks at the level the pair did, they know heads are likely to roll if they have any success. There’s been a track record of that in previous issues (even snapping unfortunate images and publishing them) where initially it was all ‘ok’ and then a few weeks later the person resigns or is sacked et al. But you argue that suicide can be an outcome of many elements – and of course that is true – but that is not mutually exclusive or suggestive that this death was not springboarded by the subsequent events from this prank either. I feel a little ashamed at these pieces today. Our actions in the world have consequences and acting ethically and with “cause no harm” in mind should be part and parcel of what both journos and radio staff ‘do’ and build in. I agree with “Say What?” on this. Ethos shouldn’t be so readily dismissed today and nor should anyone be so actively trying to free the two who instigated this from a moral responsibility to examine their actions in the light of what has happened.

  35. Bill
    8 Dec 12
    10:24 am

  36. Thank you for a very thoughtful, sensitive and well-written piece. However, court reporting is necessary. Crank calling a hospital is not – not under any circumstances.

    Regardless of who or what is ultimately responsible for this poor woman’s death, can we call agree that publically humiliating someone you don’t even know for fun and profit is an awful thing to do?

  37. Charlie
    8 Dec 12
    10:31 am

  38. I see where you’re coming from… up until you try to bridge it’s relevance to the tragedy that took place with this Nurse.

    The only thing I agree with you on, when you refer to Mike Christian & Mel Grieg is “They will now always have to live the fact that while they didn’t kill this woman, they set a chain of events in motion that had a terrible ending.”

  39. Tony Healy
    8 Dec 12
    10:36 am

  40. Tim

    1. This was not journalism

    2. The victim had done nothing to warrant public humiliation

    3. The consequences are in fact predictable. A staffer caring for a high profile royal will obviously be distressed and probably subject to disciplinary action for being the subject of such trickery. If the media organisation was not aware of that, it shouldn’t be operating.

    4. But in fact the media organisation was aware of likely reaction, for it had the item formally cleared.

    Conclusion – Yes, we need tighter media laws including measures to make it easier for victims to sue well-lawyered media organisations.

  41. Kate
    8 Dec 12
    10:43 am

  42. Nothing can excuse 2day FM management’s role in allowing this distasteful, prerecorded program to be aired. The two young dj’s were wrong, losing sight of the possible effects on the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge and the staff involved, apparently carried away by the need to make Christian’s first day on the job memorable, but what were the adults thinking of?

    Humiliating hoax calls should be banned from radio, regardless of who is being targeted – celebrities or ordinary individuals. Self-regulation is clearly inadequate. Commercial radio stations are loose cannons. This incident proves that they simply don’t give a damn! I do not, nor ever would, listen to commercial radio.

    OK, protect the DJ’s from their own folly, but never forget that a family has been destroyed. And the young expectant couple’s joy has been forever marred.

    I’m both embarrassed and ashamed to be Australian! What a way to put our country on the map!!! Let’s hope these two young dj’s find alternative careers! And that the buck stops with the station’s’ CEO.

  43. Jon
    8 Dec 12
    10:44 am

  44. Nice try at turning the the perpetrators into the victims. Isn’t going to work though.

  45. Rob
    8 Dec 12
    10:52 am

  46. I’m a police officer and I have had people commit suicide after I’ve charged them with a crime that they have committed. Should I stop prosecuting people for their crimes out if fear they might kill themselves as a result? Of course not. The decision to take your own life is yours alone and should not be placed at the feet of others.

  47. betty boo
    8 Dec 12
    10:58 am

  48. The producers, program directors and legal team at SCA who approved this stunt to take place should all be hanging their heads in shame. They are the ones who approved this stunt, not only to take place but allowed it to air. SCA had no business calling a hospital and then airing private medical information about anyone. At some stage these people need to take responsibility for their actions. Did they really think any good would come out of this? The on air “talent” are simply the public face of this disaster. There was a whole team of people involved who should all be dusting off their cv’s this weekend.

  49. Charlie
    8 Dec 12
    11:14 am

  50. #23 Rob the Policeman. I hope you’re joking when you say you’re a “Police Officer”. Obviously the Intelligence Test isn’t required when entering the Force. What you do as an ‘Officer’ and what 2Day FM did are POLLS APART. Im not even going to bother trying to simplify my ‘explaining’ it to you as I know I’d be waisting my effort.

  51. Zanara
    8 Dec 12
    11:20 am

  52. Unfortunately this is a station that never seems to learn that they are consequences to other people from their little “stunts”. Are we becoming so callous that the life of a human being is a price that can be justified for a prank. Would anyone here be happy with their local radio station calling a hospital to get an update on your loved ones condition and then airing it as a huge joke.
    The presenters need to be fired and the radio station management that gave the go ahead need to go with them.
    This futher highlights that the media need an truly independant watchdog not the weak useless board that is in place now.
    I would also like to see all the parties involved in this to have to front the nurse’s family with a public apology.

  53. Sam
    8 Dec 12
    11:25 am

  54. As a UK citizen, I also blame the ridiculous monarchy system which (a) makes this so-called ‘royal’ family undeserving recipients of public & media attention, and (b) makes a normal working person -of Indian origin- scared of doing the wrong thing for fear of ridicule. Imagine if it HAD been the real Mrs Windsor calling? In her split-second decision to put the call through, I don’t doubt that poor Jacintha considered the repercussions of not obeying the UK Monarch’s command. (I don’t blame her -a ridiculous accent that sounds like someone who has a plum in her mouth is a damn near a perfect impression).

    The Windsor family literally didn’t deserve to be prank-called. They’re theocratic freeloaders whose ancestors stole land and titles, that’s all, and should be derided and removed from power.

  55. Tim O
    8 Dec 12
    11:27 am

  56. I can easily understand that a journalist (or a DJ) is tempted to think that his actions will not have any consequences. That sort of thinking is probably the only way to get going. Unfortunately, that is not true. You can bully as a DJ as easily as you can bully as a 14-year old teenager. If your actions lead to tragedy like that, you are responsible. You might not be sued, but you are responsible.

  57. Scandalous
    8 Dec 12
    11:29 am

  58. Australia – the only place on earth where the ability to publicly humiliate is considered a sporting acheivement. Well, at least our very crap media thinks so. Management at 2Day should undergo drug testing, IQ testing or maturity testing as something is quite obviously wrong.

    Lead article in UK Times today

    No wonder radio is dying. Along with newspapers, television… all run by morons.

  59. Jeff
    8 Dec 12
    11:29 am

  60. @Rob 10:52am wrote: “I’m a police officer and I have had people commit suicide after I’ve charged them with a crime that they have committed.”
    No Rob. You’ve charged them with a crime that you ALLEGE they have committed. It is not for you to decide they have committed a crime. Your way of thinking is indicative of some of the worst excesses of police culture.

  61. Emmon G.
    8 Dec 12
    11:33 am

  62. Agree with the article.

    This prank was pretty mild in the grand scheme of things. No one could have known the nurse would take it this badly. She must have had some kind of emotional issues that ran far deeper than fear of punishment at work.

    In my mind, this is similar to a prank where someone who has an unknown heart condition is startled, has a heart attack, and dies.

    Shall we disallow yelling “boo”, for fear of a 0.00001% chance that the person may die?

  63. Jeff
    8 Dec 12
    11:34 am

  64. #25 Charlie …..and lucky for you a spelling test isn’t required when posting comments.
    “wasting” not “waisting”.

  65. Tony
    8 Dec 12
    11:38 am

  66. You must have incredibly long arms to draw such a long bow to compare what these two presenters did with journalism that is in the public interest.

    There was a recent outcry over anonymous online bullying (pushed by the news limited family) against celebrities (for one).

    But when the bullies are known – the presenters and the entire 2Day fm vetting system here – oh, know, it wasn’t there fault.

    (Metaphorically) No, they didn’t cause the suicide. They just loaded the gun

  67. Thorfinn
    8 Dec 12
    11:42 am

  68. Humiliating someone else for entertainment has a name – and it’s not “journalism” or “police work”. It’s called bullying. And it’s never appropriate.

  69. Dingo
    8 Dec 12
    11:56 am

  70. A young, inexperienced driver is out with friends…the driver, wanting to impress his friends with his bravado, skill and daring, takes a stupid, reckless risk and an innocent pedestrian dies. There was no benefit or necessity for his actions, no public interest and the driver has to live with the consequences all their life…They murdered someone. Isn’t this a more appropriate analogy than a serious journalist ding their job? SEAFM has blood on their hands.

  71. jeni89
    8 Dec 12
    12:05 pm

  72. Tim – of course it is complicated.

    No one is ever fully responsible for something happening. And the same is true in this case. There are probably hundreds of people who have some responsibility for this tragedy.

    2dayFM management had the option to take the 2 DJs off air directly after ‘the prank’ but they chose not to, perhaps enjoying the (negative) publicity. After this tragedy they had no choice but to take the DJs off air. The DJs should have been taken off air immediately. Perhaps this might have sent a supportive message to the nurses who had been duped.

    Hindsight is a wonderful thing – but how difficult was it for 2dayFM management to anticiapte all the potentail scenarios to come out of broadcasting this – I wonder if anyone considered the stress this might ‘ve caused to Kate – vulnerable in her early days of pregnancy – stress could be very dangerous at this stage. How it was allowed to be broadcase with all the potentail risk scenarios suggests 2DAY FM do not have a clue how to manage their station.

    It is not the first time 2day FM have been caught up in torrid affairs. It is time advertisers stopped associating with 2dayfm and listeners TURNED OFF

  73. Billy C
    8 Dec 12
    12:22 pm

  74. These sorts of dramas keep happening because of the culture of the network. Matt Tilley blacking up on a CD released by FOXFM, Sandliand and the lie detector etc etc etc. They push comedy which is built around humiliation. Their audience obviously enjoys it and their audience crosses over with the sort of people who like the music they play and will listen to ads. They could do a different sort of show but they don’t know how to. They might care about ratings and listeners but if anyone thinks for a moment that they respect ACMA you are kidding yourself. Let’s just stop for a minute and think about it. They though it was a good idea to prank call a hospital in the middle of the night and waste the time of nurses who are looking after ill people. Remember Craig ‘Lowe’ Low. The network poster boy? He had a fellow staff member break into his house while he was in bed with his popstar girlfriend on air. He was later sacked for breeching code. The whole network revolves around outrage.

  75. Julia Davey
    8 Dec 12
    12:24 pm

  76. I only hope those responsible for this blunder are sacked .

  77. uplah
    8 Dec 12
    12:29 pm

  78. DJs are not the same as journalists – you are confusing making prank calls with legitimate news reporting…

  79. Craig Ashley Russell
    8 Dec 12
    12:32 pm

  80. So ask yourself this simple question; if the stunt didn’t happen, would the nurse still be alive? Ipso facto, save for my faulty crystal ball which has been giving me the wrong Lotto numbers for years, the answer is yes.

  81. Jewels
    8 Dec 12
    12:35 pm

  82. C’mon – that’s cop out. As for the opening line about the poor bugger who committed suicide over a minor misdemeanour – what journalists need to consider is whether they would feel comfortable in a face to face situation with the person/org/entity that they are writing about and then I am sure that common snese & self regulation would prevail. I have worked in Marketing & Comms for over 20 years and have seen plenty of ‘local rag’ newspapers viciously attack and fabricate/hype so called stories to promote their own agendas like one particular editor who wanted to be president of Rotary…give me a break! Now jouno’s and shock jocks are bleating like squealing pigs because thanks to social media the victoms and the general public can have their own say! So to everyone & anyone if you don’t like what you read in the paper – get your dog to crap on it & post it on FB/share on twitter and let the bastards know how you you feel!

  83. Angela
    8 Dec 12
    12:37 pm

  84. LOL. So I’m supposed to give credence to the opinion of a “journalist” who constructs a sentence like, “Radio duo don’t have blood on their hands”?

    Free speech and responsible speech are two different things. That is, just because you CAN doesn’t mean you SHOULD. It’s true a child doesn’t think about the possible future ramfications of his actions. However, somewhere along the way adults should have acquired this ability.

  85. Melissa
    8 Dec 12
    12:38 pm

  86. Erm, why is nobody asking where the pressure on Nurse Jacintha actually came from? Yes, the DJs were idiots, but they were instructed by their immediate supervisors and authorised to carry out the prank. Why is nobody pointing the finger at 2day FM or the producers? More importantly, where did the pressure actually come from? It would likely have come from her employer (who would have been concerned about liability for breaches of confidentiality and saving face with the international and exclusive English clientele, which included the royal family), also, how do you think the royal family would have reacted? They would have brought enormous pressure on the hospital and used all its clout to show “we are not amused”. Similarly, the British press didn’t exactly react well towards her. Yes, the DJs were idiots but they’re not the only ones with blood on their hands. I suspect that if a member of the public got through to my ward the operator responsible wouldn’t have had so much pressure put on her, that she’d take her own life and leave two children behind. Double standards all around!!! That poor woman.

  87. OhDearism
    8 Dec 12
    12:40 pm

  88. Dear Tim,

    Please don’t apologise for these people. They are not journalists and they were not chasing a story that was in the public’s interest. They were just looking for notoriety by playing a sick prank on a sick pregnant woman and the people caring for her.

    If journalists can’t see the difference between the two things, we’re all in a lot of trouble. The ethical dilemmas faced by journalism is a delicate balance and needs to be addressed on a case by case basis. This “story at any cost” attitude is very dangerous – just look at the Leveson Inquiry in the UK.

    Please take a look at my longer post over on my blog,


  89. Not a journalist
    8 Dec 12
    12:41 pm

  90. Tim, I think there is a massive chasm between journalism and what these two idiots did. Calling a hospital, impersonating the Queen, breaching god knows how many of Kate Middleton’s rights to privacy, and then (once this has all been called out) – laughing at it over and over, like little children who learned to say poop! How was any of what they did of any journalistic value or benefit to the public? All they did was shine a massive light on the stupidity of the radio station who employed them and themselves.

    A family lost a mother, wife, daughter, sister, aunt – two weeks before Christmas… I personally hope that Michael and Mel are at home, comforted by the fact that they did all this as ‘journalists’…. Pathetic!

  91. milbarmed
    8 Dec 12
    12:45 pm

  92. “But let’s also remember that it was pre-recorded and a production team, lawyers and managers all gave the go ahead before this was broadcast.” Tim, do you know this is true or was it broadcast live as the recording portrays? If that was the case, then 2Day FM had a duty to inform the nurses that it would be broadcast. Wendy Harmer makes this point on her blog — citing ACMA rules — that the law is clear and 2Day FM broke them.

  93. Bree
    8 Dec 12
    12:46 pm

  94. Tim, great perspective. I wish journalists in this country were more responsible and didn’t just blindly follow the wishes of their superiors!

  95. Sue
    8 Dec 12
    12:51 pm

  96. While I feel incredibly sorry for the friends and family of Jucinta, the descision to take ones life no matter what the reason is theirs and theirs alone. So why are we blaming anybody else.
    I personally thought the “joke” was quite clever and also think that it went a lot further than the reporters expected. The Prince also thought it was a joke.
    We cannot live our lives predicting the unpredictable.

  97. Iain g
    8 Dec 12
    12:53 pm

  98. #25 Charlie. Poles not polls and wasting not waisting. Better take that “intellectual test” yourself.

    I see no benefit or justification for laying the blame of a suicide at the feet of these two radio DJ’s. Yes, I bet they have stopped laughing and I bet they feel incredibly remorseful, but there wasn’t any malicious intent. But I would put TodayFM under serious examination about its culture….a more serious examination than the two DJ’s gave the nurse.. I mean come on, all they had to do was give a whiff of contact with Royalty to enforce self importance to the nurse and she fell for it hook line and sinker to commit a basic breach of professionalism.

  99. DP Jobling
    8 Dec 12
    12:59 pm

  100. I think it is a great shame that this ‘prank call’ was made – I think the media watchdog need to look very closely at this situation – this is clearly not the first time this radio station has essentially victimized people for the sake of ‘light entertainment’ and it should be placed in the same box as bullying which is staunchly tossed around by the general media quite a lot lately. If these people were broadcasting someone without their consent then they have broken the rules. If they did not inform the person who they were on air at the end of the stunt – they’ve broken the rules. They may not have “blood on their hands” but they certainly have some splatter on them now – this has become a world wide issue on line. Since day one when it was first reported I was outraged that they should have wasted a phone line into a hospital with a ‘stunt/prank’ – that they should tie up a staff member of a hospital with a ‘stunt/prank’ – If they had to communicate with a hospital for an urgent call of some sort – how would they feel if they then discovered that the line was busy because a pair of ‘entertainers’ on a radio show were pranking the hospital at the time? I find it very very sad, and I wish the family of Jacinta peace in this terrible terrible time.

  101. milbarmed
    8 Dec 12
    1:01 pm

  102. From AAP: The prank call was pre-recorded and vetted by lawyers before being broadcast to listeners in Sydney.

  103. Charlie
    8 Dec 12
    1:05 pm

  104. #32 Jeff – If thats the best you can come up with, then you’re just as moronic as Poor Old Officer Rob

  105. Mandrake78
    8 Dec 12
    1:13 pm

  106. 27 – Sam. Blaming the Royal family for this is absurd. If this had been any other important and famous patient the repercussions and embarrassment would have been just as acute. Your dislike of the Royals has somehow led you to blame them for something they had no part in. Yet nothing about it reflects on them – the reason the young nurse was fooled was not because she was terrified the Queen was on the line but because she was terrified of making a mistake, and it does not take a monarch to intimidate people.

    Oh and hey, you don’t know about theocratic means, so don’t use the word.

  107. Alicia
    8 Dec 12
    1:25 pm

  108. A well thought out opinion piece and insightful look into the moral dilemma faced by Journalist. As someone who has shouldered the blame of my Father’s suicide, there were times I felt that my only way out of the guilt would be to share his fate. It took me a good part of my twenties to learn that there were a myriad of reasons behind his suicide as more came to the surface. Most people don’t dig that deep and perhaps they don’t want to- suicide is so taboo and tragic, we all want to rationalize and explain it, blaming the DJ’s is a raw and emotional response. I am glad for writers like Tim that enquire from a broader perspective and don’t get swept up with the masses.

  109. Gilad
    8 Dec 12
    1:25 pm

  110. It was clear to me from the very first moment I have listened to the prank the medical staff that happened to be involved will suffer. I thought their career will suffer (who would believe it cost a human life), and I wondered how the hospital will support them, consider the sensitivity and the status of the royal family in the UK. And I also thought it is unreasonable the hospital did not have clear guidelines about the royals, even in this PC era they are clearly not just another patient in a public hospital and this case demonstrated it very well. I’d say the hospital has to take its fair share of responsibility in this miserable case.

  111. Ian
    8 Dec 12
    1:25 pm

  112. Tim,

    Suggest you read Wendy Harmer’s article over at The Hoopla for the rules. You idiot. Prank calls are not clever, smart, or funny. And they have devastating consequences. How this station continues to be licensed (given its other misdemeanors) is beyond my ken. That said, radio presenters are not journalists; news is not entertainment; and perhaps you could re-consider.

  113. Lea
    8 Dec 12
    1:26 pm

  114. Most of you don’t seem to realize that it wasn’t Jacintha who divulged the information, she merely answered the switchboard call and put it through to another nurse. To say she killed herself as a result of this is nonsense and the person quoted above is right to say this paints a one dimensional view of suicide. She would have been depressed prior to this and many factors would have played a part.
    At the same time the DJs don’t seem to have considered that someone would get into trouble as a result of their deception. I’m all for a good joke but not at the expense of others. I hope the nurse that did divulge the information is being supported.

  115. Janine
    8 Dec 12
    1:32 pm

  116. If the production team, managers and lawyers all gave it the go ahead, then they’ve all broken the laws of broadcasting which are clear. They had no legal permission to record the nurses voice and then broadcast it.

  117. Daniel Bleakman
    8 Dec 12
    1:37 pm

  118. This is about your respect for humanity and your own moral code of ethics. I run a blog/ website and I have been privy to information that I know would garner me massive hits… But my own sense of duty towards fellow human beings means that I would rather not try to destroy someone in the name of trying to make a name for myself… This horrible incident has come about because in the reality is that people are selfish and have so little respect for other humans. Don’t try to judge this on how you would personally deal with the situation. So many people are leaping to the defence of the station and the presenters saying how would they know what would happen? While the vast majority of us can be thick skinned and take a joke, so people are fragile and cannot, and its the little regard and thoughtless for others that has contributed to the horrible end result. I wish more people and indeed those in the media would just stop and think about the consequences of their actions, rather than just pass it off as in the public interest.

  119. Clare
    8 Dec 12
    1:44 pm

  120. Public humiliation, and the associated disgrace and ridicule CAN drive a sane person to suicide. You do not have to be suffering a mood depression to attempt suicide. Look up the condition ‘adjustment disorder.’

    It troubles me how some media outlets are quick to insist they do not ‘force’ anyone to suicide with their coverage and the nurse must have had ‘underlying issues.’ The fact is, media coverage and promotion of the event would have exacerbated the nurse’s guilt and shame. Health care workers are supposed to protect patient confidentiality. She unwittingly breached it, and her error was broadcast worldwide for the world to mock and laugh at. It may seem trivial to outsiders, but patient confidentiality is taken seriously in the health profession and those who breach it do face consequences.

    She did not deserve this. She took great pride in her work. She committed no crime. All she did was fall victim to a stupid prank. But she became a laughingstock, and the disgrace and humiliation was too much for her.

    However, I do agree the DJs involved should not take the blame. Austereo management are ultimately responsible for this fiasco.

  121. Mel B
    8 Dec 12
    1:44 pm

  122. I agree that this is an awful situation, but I don’t agree that the presenters are responsible for the suicide. No-one is responsible for another person’s actions. Does everyone realise that this nurse was not the person who gave out the information? She only put the call through to the nurse who did…

  123. Mr Eguy
    8 Dec 12
    1:44 pm

  124. #52 Hey Charlie, Calling someone “Moronic” just reveals you to be a bully that can’t spell, as well as a hypocrite. No need to get personal with Jeff at #32.

  125. Mandy
    8 Dec 12
    1:59 pm

  126. The fault does not lie solely with the radio-presenters but with the entire production team that gave this the ok. However to try to link this “shock-jock” style behavior for light entertainment with serious journalism is far too big a stretch. The radio station set in motion a chain of events which led a woman to take her own life. Regardless of what else was going on in her world had the prank not occurred chances are she’d still be alive today. Advertisers and listeners alike should simply turn the dial and take their business elsewhere.

  127. Fly By
    8 Dec 12
    2:02 pm

  128. A few points of rebuttal:

    1. Agree that it is unlikely that these 2 DJs were the fundamental basis for the nurse’s suicide. It is far more likely, almost certain, that she was a person who had major personal problems, but managed to function competently in spite of this, and hide it from those around her…

    But… what is equally likely, however, is that to somebody in that state of mind the unwanted attention and embarrassment around the prank precipitated her suicide. Who knows, otherwise she may have chosen to take her life months, or years from now. In the reality that is the present, however, Christian and Greig triggered her death. They have to realise that and live with it, and ideally, pay for it with their livelihoods

    2. Also agree that Christian & Greig are absolutely NOT journalists – they’re vandals with a microphone. But hey, they’re masquerading as such, so hold them to the same standards and throw the book at them

    3. The prank was approved by management… so in effect, they were doing what they were told to do. You know, the Nazis in WWII guilty of war crimes pleaded the same defence

    4. Christian is getting a reputation as an obnoxious **** – first ticking off a flight full of music journalists for playing the harmonica, and now this. Score another one doing the Australian nation proud – hasn’t been a good few weeks for our ‘celebrities’. A talentless soapie angel publicly regrets being Australian, a wrinkled former supermodel refuses to speak in anything other than a French accent, and this narcissistic idiot…

  129. How production works
    8 Dec 12
    2:09 pm

  130. How no one in the production team in planning the prank did not stick their hand up and say “hang on, this is a woman who has been hospitalized for complications relating to early pregnancy, is this really something we want to prank?” speaks volumes for the stupidity of 2DayFM and their entire attitude to entertainment, leading from the crap Kyle does right through. Its terrible, poo and fart humor dressed up as ‘bold’ and ‘outrageous’ . Tim you raise causation issues and I get that but this must be another opportunity for someone – SOMEONE – to please try and change the pathetic culture at Austereo. The only thing I agree with is its not just the two hosts, its the producers as well.

  131. Brutally honest
    8 Dec 12
    2:21 pm

  132. Regardless of how complicated it may seem, nothing will hide the fact that the DJ’s and the team at 2Day FM, are absolute fuckwits. Who the hell finds this funny then repeats the broadcast after the nurse has died?

  133. becca
    8 Dec 12
    2:25 pm

  134. I want to point out that this young nurse is from a different country/culture than the Western country. And in some cultures suicide can be seen as a means to restore face. This woman was just humiliated for the entire world to see.

    And to compare it to a criminal getting charged with a crime-. I will say this, the young nurse never signed up for being a public figure.

    Not to mention I will say this, there is nothing funny or joking about a young pregnant woman in the hospital. Kate’s condition actually can be serious-resulting in losing the baby or (even her on life if she gets to dehydrated) according to reports.

    This young mother may be dealing with a stressful pregnancy and the last thing she needs is to worry about the media lying to get private details about her.

  135. becca
    8 Dec 12
    2:26 pm

  136. So yes it can be a direct result. These people didn’t know who they were playing with. When they pulled their little prank….

  137. Sam
    8 Dec 12
    2:38 pm

  138. When you place a plank call you do not know how mentality fragile that individual will be. Since this call had a direct effect on the Royals, I suspect the nurse felt really bad. And also it was getting world wide attention. It was not forgotten or go away, it continued in the press, TV and radio.
    This poor nurse must have thought the only way for this to go away is to end my life. She took her job seriously, yet the plank was a joke to everyone else but her.

    It is a sad situation,but planks can end up bad. Think twice before you make a plank call, you don’t know who is on the other end of the line.

  139. MG
    8 Dec 12
    2:40 pm

  140. I am not impressed with Today Network management. This was not just a prank pulled by the two presenters, who are the face or voice of it, it was pulled by the entire system, the lawyers, the producers, the management. Prank calls like this are an inadvertant form of bullying, laughter at the intended expense of others, not just carried out by the on air staff but by the entire system. It is disgusting that the lawyers thought this was appropriate to put onair, it was disgusting that the producers thought it was ok and it was disgusting that the presenters didnt say… woah… and pull the plug. hindsight is 20/20 but it seems that this kind of crap is happening a lot in the today network. They need to look at themselves… from the top down. Nothing happens without management approval. ALL involved should be held responsible.

  141. Under the Bus
    8 Dec 12
    2:50 pm

  142. Deliberate bullying? Journalism? Really? We’re talking about two inexperienced DJ’s pulling an ancient radio gag, as asked by management. Never found prank calls funny but they happen daily in commercial radio worldwide so there’s an appetite for this ‘humour’ (anyone remember Crank Yankers’?)
    The unpreparedness of the DJ’s is clear; their commentary grows more bizarre as the call goes on, almost hoping to be caught to end the call. An experienced producer would have either helped them re-direct the conversation, or at very least push to ‘bleep’ the medical content from the final cut.
    I really feel for the on-air talent and hope the overwhelming social media vitriol doesn’t put their own personal welfare at risk.

  143. michael
    8 Dec 12
    3:00 pm

  144. hi Tim, big difference between reporting the news as a court reporter and making working people look stupid (and getting them into a shit load of trouble). I am all for mocking celebrities and politicians, whose preening lives deserve mockery, but when the joke is on Joe Public (both nurses) it all becomes a little shameful.

  145. chris
    8 Dec 12
    3:09 pm

  146. This whole so-called culture of pranking defended by idiots like Julian morrow needs to be looked at. Why should a person in a high pressure job like this poor nurse be bothered at work by these idiots in the name of a “joke”, likewise for a young woman in a difficult stage of her pregnancy.
    It’s not funny, its cheap tawdry and typical of cynical, shallow, thoughtless “media” people. This ghastly station should be shut down

  147. Jim
    8 Dec 12
    3:18 pm

  148. The two “journalists” used subterfuge for personal gain (getting the laughs which fuel ratings and obtaining private medical information). They committed minor fraud and in the commission of that crime they caused harm to what lawyers call an “egg shell personality”. These two people should be extradited to the UK for this crime and I hope that the family of the nurse sues the media company.

    In law, the fact that the nurse was fragile mentally is not something within English law which is dismissed. The two radio personalities caused her so much mental duress in the commission of their crime. And it fits all the definitions of criminal fraud, even though minor.

    You journalists may protect your own with your odious attempt at ethical justification, but in the end justice will be served on these two creeps.

  149. Anon
    8 Dec 12
    3:43 pm

  150. Here we go again. The social media outrage brigade in full swing.

    Obviously this woman had serious issues, much larger than the prank call itself.

    Does anyone truly believe she’d end her life, leaving two children behind over a prank call?

    The straw that broke the camels back.. Maybe..

    Who was to know?

    Do we just tippy toe around society sugar coating everything, in the fear that everyone is just one bad day away from committing suicide??

    People need to get a grip on what is actually going on here.

    We turning into such an outraged, petty, PC society.

    Its pathetic..

    As are the social media ring leaders using a tragic suicide as some type of leverage and axe to grind against 2Day FM.

  151. Justin
    8 Dec 12
    3:58 pm

  152. To compare this with the work of a journalist covering people who find themselves before the law courts or involved in criminal activity is highly misleading. The woman in question did not seek public attention, did not commit a crime but was unwittingly involved in a prank call in which she was the butt of a so called joke. The situation is not too dissimilar to bullying. The issue that underlies this situation is commercial media’s diminishing morality and ethics in the all-important chase for ‘ratings and advertising dollars’. And bullying and humiliation are tactics used by the commercial media to achieve profits. There are aspects of the commercial media industry in Australia that stink and it needs to be regulated. That’s the real story.

  153. DP
    8 Dec 12
    4:08 pm

  154. Let’s get this straight. 2DayFM didnt think or worry about the consequences of the nurses, only themselves, and thats OK?

  155. Dingo
    8 Dec 12
    4:27 pm

  156. Fly by I think your point #1 ignores the cultural difference between westerners and, in this case, asians. I dont know enough about Indian Culture to comment on young Jacinthas actions but in MANY cultures a loss of face demands a personal sacrifice…yes, its 2012 but to many cultures that is irrelevant…It didnt take drugs or depression or a poor home life but cultual norms to make that Jacinthas ONLY choice, and no, I dont agree that 2DayFM shouldnt of made that call because some one might get hurt, they shouldnt of done it because that was the bloody decent thing to do! The article is a cop out through and through and I think we ALL expect better from mUmbrella as well.

  157. Simone
    8 Dec 12
    4:45 pm

  158. How is it that the federal Telecommunications (Interception) Act 1979 does not apply here?

    . It was a pre recorded prank and yet neither of the nurses pranked nor their employer were informed that they were being recorded nor was their permission for use as a commercial profit making entity obtained

  159. Em
    8 Dec 12
    5:29 pm

  160. It’s not the radio jockeys’ fault. How do you know that every time you rant and rave and abuse a cold caller marketer or charity worker and hang up on them midesentence that they aren’t so affected by it they go and kill themselves?

  161. LeahDaisyD
    8 Dec 12
    5:45 pm

  162. 1. WHO prank calls a hospital? How would that ever be funny or acceptable to tie up communications equipment & hospital staff for a prank?

    2. BIGGEST LIE: Nobody could have predicted this tragic outcome of this innocent, funny prank. REALLY?!? Because if these idiots had presented this prank idea to me, I could have created a list of possible unfortunate outcomes created by tying up hospital communications & staff w/ a prank related to a young woman HOSPITALIZED early in her first pregnancy due to a condition serious enough to warrant hospitalization. And, I’m confident that actual professionals could have generated a longer list than I. A hospital nurse committing suicide might not have made my list; but there are so many bad possible outcomes that the prank never should have occurred or even have been up for consideration. All of the US news coverage was abt. how potentially serious it was to be hospitalized early in a pregnancy; but these idiots think, “hey, let’s prank call her”??? Truly indefensible behavior as anyone with a shred of human decency can attest. That this “prank” was vetted by production, management, and legal AFTER it was PRErecorded boggles the mind. The employment & legal punitive consequences for this need to reach far and wide and to the very top — anyone who took part in the creation / approval / broadcast of this nastiness needs to reap the full consequences of what they have sown — which leads to …

    3. Journalists need to make sure the names & faces of the ENTIRE team of people associated with this prank are publicized just as much as the 2 DJs. The 2 DJs absolutely deserve as much horrible publicity as they get, because of their own actions. However, it is completely unfair to shield the producers / management / legal team / company as a whole that enabled this prank to occur and then to be aired — and then CONTINUED to promote the prank worldwide through every avenue possible despite public outcry and despite the nurse’s suicide!!! ALL parties involved need to be under the same level of scrutiny & criticism — PUBLICLY!

    4. SUICIDE – to those making pronouncements that the nurse’s suicide is nobody’s fault, That is like saying that the gasoline would have exploded anyway, so the person who dropped the lit match isn’t to blame. This prank was the match, and those that dropped it are absolutely responsible for the explosion and tragedies that result. Many of us can deal quite well with the direct consequences of our own mistakes; but when a mistake causes another to get into trouble, that can be harder to bear. The nurse that committed suicide was not the nurse that divulged all of the information, but she was the one that transferred the call and inadvertently “set up” the second nurse. Sadly, there was initially more criticism of the hospital’s call screening procedures than there was of the idiots who prank called a hospital. Refer to point #1.

    5. Why does the public need to know when a young woman is pregnant? How sad is it that this young woman had to have a complication early into her first pregnancy turned into a public spectacle? She’s having complications serious enough to require hospitalization plus the stress of the legitimate media attention plus now the emotional devastation of this nurse’s suicide plus a husband under severe stress over this whole thing, I’m sure.

    6. The full breadth of the consequences that ripple outward from this prank are unknown – the suffering of the nurse’s now motherless children & widowed husband, suffering of her coworkers, emotional strain on Kate / William. And, then, of course, there are the consequences to come for all of those individuals who thought this “prank” was such a funny & clever idea. It boggles my mind to read about how the instigators are just so very shocked & devastated that their very public pranks aka ACTIONS have consequences.

    So stupid & sad & predictable & preventable

  163. Jaqui Lane
    8 Dec 12
    6:12 pm

  164. Tim, could not disagree with you more. The ‘duo’ need to front up, take direct responsibility for the consequences of their actions..unintended or not, and so should those involved in letting this go to air. Apart from the fact that had invaded the privacy of a person who was sick-would either of the presenters like it if a radio jock
    rang their sister, mother, anyone in their family at such a time?
    The real issue is these two, and the radio station hiding behind ‘the law’. I am talking about common decency and taking responsibility. The duo should stop hiding, front the media–opps, they’re part of it–and understand their actions have had a dreadful consequence and DO something about it. I am disgusted at what they have done and the media’s ‘acceptance’ of it.

  165. Shell
    8 Dec 12
    6:12 pm

  166. #31 Emmon G.: “In my mind, this is similar to a prank where someone who has an unknown heart condition is startled, has a heart attack, and dies.”

    Interesting comparison. You’ve tried to paint a picture of why the the radio station shouldn’t be held accountable. But instead, you’ve compared their actions to something that could have criminal liability.

    If we follow your line of thought, those involved at the radio station actually COULD be charged with manslaughter. According to US law at least. There’s a key concept that’s taught in basic law class called “factual causation”, which basically means you apply the “but for” test. “But for the actions of the defendant would the end result have happened?” So if you commit assault and the person dies but for your actions they would not have died, you can be held criminally liable.

    If you punch someone in the nose (assuming it’s not self defense), they fall down, hit their head and are killed by the impact with the concrete, you can be criminally charged with their death. (Murder or manslaughter depending whether the DA thinks they can prove you intended to kill the other person.) If you punch a person who happens to have a weak heart (again, assuming not self defense) and that triggers a heart attack, you can be criminally charged with their death.

    Legally, you don’t have to even touch a person to assault them. A shout and a raised fist or a swing at the air can be an assault if causes fear of harm to the other person. If you walked up to a stranger and yelled “boo” while making the typical accompanying gestures with your hands, and they dropped dead due to a heart attack, you could be charged with manslaughter. With a good prosecutor and/or a not so good defense attorney, you could go to jail for your “prank”.

    “Shall we disallow yelling “boo”, for fear of a 0.00001% chance that the person may die?”

    I don’t think we need to disallow yelling “boo” at strangers, because enough people seem to realize it’s a douchey thing to do. I don’t see many (or any that I recall) people randomly trying to scare strangers.

    Unfortunately, the same doesn’t seem to be true of obnoxious prank calls that have the sole purpose of humiliating others for a laugh.

  167. The K
    8 Dec 12
    6:54 pm

  168. There is one group of people responsible for this prank going to air, 2Day FM listeners.

  169. Bangatron
    8 Dec 12
    7:57 pm

  170. It is SUSPECTED suicide.
    As it has been noted, the victim only answered the phone and the prank wasn’t at her.
    For her to commit suicide from this means she either had mental issues before or was getting pressured from her employee or the royals them selves.

    Conspiracy theories seem very viable surrounding this case.
    A royal hit?
    A royal ritual sacrifice to one of the first people to deal with the new baby?

    Until further solid evidence comes out people need to stop jumping on the Radio is evil bandwagon.

    Who knows, this pressure may lead to one of the two DJ’s involved taking there own lives, how would you feel about that?
    The amount of coverage and blame these two are getting is well over the top.

  171. Matt
    8 Dec 12
    8:41 pm

  172. Tim

    the sydney morning herald hit it on the nose. The death is tragic yes and the DJ’s whether people like it or not embarked on a prank call without knowing the full consequences and with these types of calls / actions you can never know. Em’s comment is frankly bolllocks when someone cold calls you they choose to do it – this was the other way round.
    back to the herald one of the key things here is the invasion of privacy on a pregnant individual. Its about time we in Australia asked these so called shock jocks who hide behind ratings etc to follow the same code of common decency that the rest of us follow. stop making excuses for them. (if you do read the male dj’s faceboook bragging prior to the tragic event)

  173. Mark Oreilly
    8 Dec 12
    10:35 pm

  174. You have your head up your a*se on this one Tim.

    If youre going to go ahead and play sillybuggers with the unsuspecting public, you have to take ownership for the outcomes of your actions, even if you did not foresee them.

    if they hadnt tried to get some cheap laughs with a prank call, this nurse would still be alive today.

    mike & mel will be tucking into their xmas ham while the saldhana family mourn the loss of a loved one.

    and here you are saying they dont have blood on their hands.. what world do you live in?


  175. Mr. PB
    8 Dec 12
    11:22 pm

  176. @Em – I don’t know about you, but when I make or receive a call I don’t make a fool out of the person at the other end deliberately (who I knowingly know is working in a high-tension environment) then subsequently broadcast the call on national radio for everyone to heckle at.

    This segment was prerecorded (not live, and therefore not able to be use ‘live on air’ as an excuse), greenlighted by legal and ‘ethics’ staff (because they have such a ‘great’ track record already!), and when the issue blew up, they even had the audacity to brag about how this was a brilliant prank. If this doesn’t scream utter contempt for the dignity of those that they take the piss out of, then we must all be blind & deaf.

    I’m not surprised that Austereo has, once again, raised its middle finger to simple & basic media ethics. I’m not surprised, but that doesn’t make me any less disappointed.

    So Michael and Meg didn’t specifically tell Jacintha to kill herself. Fair enough, that is a valid point. But 2Day/Austereo did green light the broadcast of the call. 2Day did continually to market and advertise the prank. 2Day didn’t even batter an eye when a day ago the hospital said that a nursing station picked up the call, not a trained receptionist as it should have been. 2Day, clearly possessing no sense of taste, dismissed the call as an “inconvenience” to the hospital. Even when the issue obviously got more and more serious and exploded internationally, 2Day did nothing. Even after Jacintha’s death, Austereo’s ‘apology’ was condescending and patronising, and their continued claims of ‘not breaking any rules’ has just shown their contempt even further. That’s *nearly* as bad as specifically telling Jacintha to kill herself, and that message doesn’t come from Michael and Meg. That message comes from 2Day FM.

    Clearly, if they want to attribute themselves to all the fame and glory into this stunt, they should also take the responsibility. And since it doesn’t want to take responsibility for its actions, it’s not fit to be a broadcaster in this country.

    But the comments and opinions that have flowed from this incident narrates a bigger picture, something more important than the 2Day story. We should be seriously questioning ourselves as an industry where we have a minority that not only ignores the idea of dignity and respect for others, but also a minority that will fight veraciously to protect those who SHOULD be held accountable for disregarding this dignity and respect. A minority that says that anyone with power is free to do and say anything and they are not responsible for their actions.

    It’s disgusting and to be honest, it’s really worrying that we have many that work in this industry, many that hold powerful broadcasting leverage, standing up for this notion of ‘laissez-faire broadcasting’. We need to take a good look in the mirror and reevaluate on how we are abusing our power to influence, how we neglect our responsibilities to ethically inform.

    We should be ashamed as an industry. We should be.

  177. chris
    8 Dec 12
    11:24 pm

  178. To say that this could have not been foreseen is simplistic. All actions have consequences, whilst there may have been other underlying causes of this poor
    womans death, their actions can reasonably be said to have contributed to her death.
    This lady worked in the medical profession, they have strict guidlines on disclosure.
    Those who breach those guidlines face sanction and in some cases, dismissal.
    No one can tell me that this stations legal and other management did not know that before signing off on the broadcast.
    At the very least, the staff involved could have lost their livlihoods and with that faced real suffering, financial, emotioal or otherwise.
    So yes, the consequences were predictable.

  179. Boris
    8 Dec 12
    11:33 pm

  180. I completely disagree that Mel and Michael have done something wrong.
    Princess Kate continues her pregnancy and despite her “Morning Sickness” it is a happy end. The prank was absolutely innocent and with a good charge of a good British Humour. Certainly if pregnancy has had another outcome this joke would have another smell.
    There is absolutely nobody to blame for the Nurse’s Suicide.
    However if to look at the causative chain, the blame for security breach should be addressed into 2 direction.
    Firstly, certainly Royal Family team and Security Services admitted Princess into a general hospital without specially trained team, and without security station intercepting all calls addressed to Royal Family
    Secondly , sorry the young generation of the Royal Family, who behave frequently as the neighbours from around the corner, and playing this Pseudo democratic games with admission to the unprepared Public Hospitals instead of having their own medical unit where this story would have never happen.

  181. Simone
    8 Dec 12
    11:51 pm

  182. Em Cold calling marketers go into their job wide eyed and trained for that response. They are not unwittingly the recipient of international ridicule. Hang up on me any day but dont turn me into s pariah worldwide for entertainment

  183. Paul
    9 Dec 12
    12:46 am

  184. these two are NOT journalists. And the problem is that they or their bosses or whoever don’t seem to think they need to be either accountable or responsible for the consequences of their actions. It’s not a new thing of course that people do stupid things without thinking. it’s called being human. however do not pretend for a minute that these two are NOT responsible for this death IF it is shown to be linked to the hoax…they would be and should be held accountable. and anyway, it is illegal in Australia and the UK to record a conversation without consent. This should not be confused. Clearly a law has been broken and a moral line crossed .It is as simple as that

  185. Chris
    9 Dec 12
    3:41 am

  186. One day they will come face to face with her children, let’s see how they explain themselves on that day. They are about to learn a great deal.

  187. Roz
    9 Dec 12
    4:24 am

  188. A vulnerable person’s situation is made all the more tenuous by the actions of thoughtless people out only for their own pathetic amusement and of the amusement of their shallow cretinous listeners. That’s what it’s all about! This sort of stupid, thoughtless,puerile humour; bullying maskarading as a prank, has at last back-fired on a radio station which thrives on this sort of insidious stuff. OF COURSE no-one thought this poor woman would take her embarrassment and mortification to such a degree. This is what we who oppose such idiocy as the likes of Kyle Sandilands, Alan Jones and all the other people who get off on humour at the expense of others have been saying for MONTHS!! When you make and derive humour at the expense of others, when it involves hurting others, bullying, crass pathetic stuff that most of us grow out of in Primary School, then you run the risk of dealing with another’s vulnerabilities that are beyond your knowledge. But you are still responsible for the outcome! Well may 2DayFM hang a collective head in shame! Well may they realise they are in part responsible! And may they at last come to some sort of understanding that sometimes, saying sorry really is not enough!
    As for calls to feel sympathy for these two twits…let them learn accountability! Their grandiose sense of self-importance, based on the air-headed breathlessness of other wanna-bees who inflate their egos, has gone to their heads. They live in a vacuum fed by their own sense of importance and hedonism. What on earth makes them think they can ride over the laws of decency that most other people can recognise?
    And what of 2DayFM’s Duty of Care? Instead of feeding these egos and encouraging them in their self-opinionated ramblings and ‘anything for a lark’ mentality, only to be excused by a flippant and meaningless ‘apology’ when the heat gets too hot…where is the adult mentoring/guidance in all of this?

  189. Bitter and Twisted
    9 Dec 12
    6:53 am

  190. I feel a bit sorry to for the two moron radio hosts who are the public face of this shambles.

    These 2 half-wits wouldnt be capable of either conceiving this idea or arranging the prank yet i have not seen much written or any public shame directed towards the producers of the show.

    As for the advertisers, we saw with the alan jones case, they all come back after a couple of weeks anyway…..

  191. Sad and shocked
    9 Dec 12
    7:30 am

  192. It might have begun as a harmless prank, but the end of the day, there’s two kids without a Mum.

    Baying for more blood doesn’t help either (mostly the British press).

    It won’t do anything to bring their Mum back, but surely we can all help make life easier for the nurse’s family, going forward?

    This is a shameful episode for Australian media, no matter how unforeseen the outcome.

  193. betty boo
    9 Dec 12
    8:39 am

  194. It appears that Wippa has also deleted his twitter account @wippa – maybe it wasn’t such a good idea to have been quoted so extensively in support of the stunt. There really needs to be a thorough overhaul of programming management across a number of Australian radio stations.

  195. Mick Gold Coast QLD
    9 Dec 12
    9:35 am

  196. Jacintha Saldanha likely had never heard of these amazing funny kiddie jokesters, then she did and now she’s dead.

    Today I read that “We (Austereo) have real, genuine concerns for their wellbeing and state of mind. They are getting medical assistance.” Where do I phone in to mock them?

  197. Lea
    9 Dec 12
    10:44 am

  198. Clare, I don’t need to look up Adjustment Disorder, I’m a psychologist with a Masters degree in Clinical Psychology, All I can tell you is the research strongly supports the fact that people who attempt suicide think about it and plan it for a long time and it is never the result of one single incident. Especially when the person has children they will be leaving behind.

  199. Tom
    9 Dec 12
    11:49 am

  200. This article does make some good points and it’s good to see a view that departs from the – admittedly tempting – position of laying all blame at the feet of 2DayFM. That said…

    “Clearly when all of this is only the name of light entertainment, the justification is harder to make.”

    Yes, that’s absolutely right and it’s a shame that the reader has to wait until 4 paragraphs from the article’s end to see this acknowledged. The point was important enough to have been underlined but, strangely, not important enough to be noted earlier. If it had been noted earlier and then some analysis made in light of that, the article would be far more useful.

  201. Tom
    9 Dec 12
    12:14 pm

  202. Even regardless of the terrible outcome of Jacintha Saldanha’s death, the fact is that the prank call was a nasty piece of work. Some unwitting nurses were humiliated and Kate Middleton experienced an invasion of privacy at a time when she was suffering acute morning sickness. Classy – not. And I don’t say this out of some snootiness against ‘lowbrow humour’ – I say it because the prank was downright mean and came from a radio station whose profit-driven imperatives seem to go hand-in-hand with a brand of mean-spirited radio.

    And the fact that these prank calls are a staple of commercial radio programming and are popular enough to continue being a staple of such programming? Well, that leaves the listening audience with a few questions to answer too.

  203. Dingo
    9 Dec 12
    2:11 pm

  204. @ Lea, again this is a very western understanding of the place of suicide, totally ignoring the fact that in the face of humiliation many cultures insist that this is the honourable thing to do…..If Jacintha WAS depressed and struggling to cope with out these assanine fools contribution she MAY of found time to work through her problems

  205. Annie Chickenstalker
    9 Dec 12
    3:22 pm

  206. Isn’t hindsight such a wonderfull thing ? “Gotcha” calls have been part of radio around the world for decades. Such hysteria ! It would have been the years best radio stunt had there not been the death. Or if the call hadn’t got past the switchboard, which it never should have.

  207. Perspective
    9 Dec 12
    3:32 pm

  208. Imagine being a minority migrant in South London from India.

    From all reports, quiet, hardworking, nice and of strong mind. You’ve worked your butt off to get to where you are, years of study, years of training, and finally you’re in a great hospital earning a modest wage. In London.

    Next, imagine the pride you’d feel when you call your husband to say ‘We’re looking after the future Queen of England. And she’s pregnant!’

    Imagine how very proud you would feel, to be looking after the future Queen and her offspring, thousands of miles away from home. It is the highest honour a nurse could have, and that particular night, you have the privilege of being called by the Queen herself.

    ‘Oooh, yes ma’am’ and you patch her through.

    Imagine telling everyone you had a call from the Queen herself! You spoke to her!

    Then imagine finding out that you’ve compromised the safety of the Duchess, by patching through a commercial FM radio station that was playing a prank.

    Imagine the humiliation.

    You don’t need to be an expert to realise that no predisposed condition needed to exist in this case. A lot of asian countries take their sense of duty very seriously.

    Could you imagine the guilt she felt, not only for compromising the most important patient in all of England, but also upon realising you are likely to never find work again in England, the place you’ve worked so hard to get to.

    Now tell me this was a joke and she over-reacted.

    Anyone here defending the acts of the DJ’s or even feeling sorry for them should take a good hard look at themselves and question if they indeed suffer from Aspergers or something similar. It was a shocking thing to do, and to say ‘oh we didn’t think there would be consequences’ is so selfish, ignorant and inward looking it’s not funny.

    This is a tragedy. Do not portray the perpetrators as victims.

    Fraud, treason, involuntary manslaughter… they should be hit with all three.

  209. Kate
    10 Dec 12
    2:56 am

  210. For Rhys Holleran to say that the outcome was completely unforseeable is not completely accurate in my opinion. They have been exploiting, humiliating and bullying people in the name of ‘entertainment’ for a long long time.

    Seems to me there is a very toxic culture at 2day fm and Rhys Holleran has just refused to act time and time again. Remember him saying that abiding by a condition of ‘decency’ in their broadcasts was ‘unworkable’.

    Remember the people from Sack Vile Kyle pleading with them to change their ways, to think about the consequences of their actions? To care about the content of their broadcasts? What did they do? They tried to cover their asses, they didn’t implement any lasting change.

    ACMA was useless, if they had of been effective perhaps pranks like this one would have come to an end. Remember the Home and Away prank? No, look it up – Media Watch. They don’t care about people, they care about ratings and will do anything, anything at all to get them.

    As far as I am concerned it was only a matter of time until their irresponsible on air behaviour backfired. I’m not blaming the DJ’s, I really feel for them, they were relative newbies. Remember Amber Petty telling of the pressure to perform one of these sick pranks – her own death.

    I’d be looking at the Content Director and Rhys Holleran. Get rid of them and bring about some lasting change before more people get hurt.

  211. Victor Judge
    10 Dec 12
    8:46 am

  212. I’m from the U.K. and would like to go on the record in saying that if the phone call had not been made then this tragic death of a young woman would never have occurred.

    She was living in nursing quarters and her family are in the West of England because of her need to be near work due to the nature and erratic hours of her job.

    She didn’t hurt anyone,and now she is dead.

    A complaint needs to be made (if not already done so) to the regulatory body that oversees the radio industry as it would appear the station were in breach of the rules by broadcasting without notifying the parties concerned that the call had been recorded and/or about to be broadcast.

    It is an appalling sequence of events and all involved from the lawyers to the Directors and the DJ’s themselves must be held to account.for their involvement.

    God bless her and let us hope something good can come from this tragedy.

  213. Encyclic!
    10 Dec 12
    10:25 am

  214. This just in – Radio DJs in the summer ratings break are now “journalists”.

  215. Sam
    10 Dec 12
    11:02 am

  216. @Mandrake

    Of course I know what ‘theocratic’ means. It’s how the Windsors’ ancestors and predecessors duped the people and stole their power.

    For what it’s worth, I don’t condone the DJs or the prank, nor blame any individual Royal or otherwise. What I actually said was, “I also blame the ridiculous monarchy system”. If it had been any other famous person involved I would have probably said that I ‘also’ blame the cult of celebrity.

    And, Mandrake, you’re probably wrong about the nurse’s reasons for being terrified; we know from the recording that she really believed it was the Queen: she called her Ma’am -a obsolete term in the UK, except when fawning to royalty. Staff at the hospital are trained in royal etiquette, and told to bow and fawn in the correct way. I hate that people are pressured into doing this, and devastated that someone would take their own life for doing it wrong.

  217. J
    10 Dec 12
    11:28 am

  218. I dont think anyone is considering the current position the UK media are in at the moment as a result of the Leveson Inquiry. All media is under the spotlight at the moment and rightly so. Perhaps the Australian media should also take this opportunity and have a strong look at themeselves. They need to recognise the influence they have on people and these ‘pranks’ need to disappear very quickly. In a sense it is almost fraudulent to claim to be another person in order to gain advantage and in doing so they have heaped so much pressure on this poor nurse who was only doing her job and as a result we have lost this persons life. All for ratings.

  219. NS
    10 Dec 12
    11:33 am

  220. the self-righteous sanctimony in this thread makes me ill
    what the abject anonymity of social media has wrought upon our free society makes me despair
    mob rule indeed

  221. Rodney A Smith
    10 Dec 12
    11:37 am

  222. This is a tragic series of events for everyone involved. Given the power of today’s media at every level, we simply need to start having much more respect for personal space and individuals no matter who they are. It’s no more complex than that.

  223. LeahDaisyD
    10 Dec 12
    11:43 am

  224. I’m American, and IMO we tend to sometimes go overboard w/ lawsuits; but I hope the nurse’s family is able to sue the beejeezus out of Austereo / 2Day. And, I hope the hospital & royal family also pursue all criminal & civil legal action available to them. That whole company needs to be sued right out of business. Ad, if the Australian legal system doesn’t offer recourse for the victimes here, I surely hope the Australian people will change that.

    Prank calls are not some uniquely Australian thing; but prank calls are supposed to be funny AND permission is ALWAYS required before a prank goes on air. Calling a hospital is NOT funny. Airing that call without permission from those recorded is WRONG.

  225. KM
    10 Dec 12
    11:50 am

  226. Correct me if I’m wrong but the nurse in question wasn’t the one who gave away the information, she simply forwarded the call to the duty nurse who divulged the information to the radio DJs.

    Secondly, I think the radio DJ’s are copping far more blame then they should. the prank may have been in poor taste and perhaps should have concluded before the private information was given, however the hospital staff and in fact the Royal staffers should have been monitoring calls coming in far more closely. I’m pretty sure Grandmother in-laws wouldn’t be privileged to that sort of information.

    Lastly, if you truly believe that the nurse in question took her own life due to the back lash surrounding this prank and how it all played out, then shouldn’t we perhaps give the radio DJs, who will forever live with the guilt of a prank gone wrong, a little slack and perhaps stop another unfortunate and horrific event from happening?

  227. Kitty
    10 Dec 12
    11:51 am

  228. Someone I know who is a radio host in regional city made the point that it if it was Hamish and Andy that made the prank call would society be slamming them as much as these two practically unknown hosts? Suicide is a really unfortunately outcome but a mature, mother does not contemplate suicide over transferring a phone call, it was simply part of a bigger picture that is yet to be uncovered. The radio hosts are not responsible for this they simply tried their luck and got put through. There is noone ever to blame when it comes to suicide.

    It is a delicate situation but the royals even made jokes about the prank after the fact.
    A friend recently noted that they knew they were maturing and getting older because they no longer made or received prank calls. It is immature humour and maybe radio hosts with more talent would have far more interesting things to joke about or talk about on their show.

  229. Anne
    10 Dec 12
    12:02 pm

  230. “But, tempting as it is, let’s not slaughter Mike Christian and Mel Greig. They will now always have to live the fact that while they didn’t kill this woman, they set a chain of events in motion that had a terrible ending. Surely that’s enough to deal with.”

    I am a former local newspaper Editor and my good friend’s father committed suicide the night before he would have been sentenced to jail. My small-town newspaper had covered the trial proceedings without identifying the person due to the nature of the charges he was facing.

    My good friend blamed the coverage in my paper for forcing his dad to do what he did. Of course I can understand with the benefit of hindsight that this man would be better dead than spending time in jail for what he had done.

    I didn’t realise why my instinct was to worry for the radio hosts this weekend, until reading this article today.

    What they did was terrible – and right now they probably know that better than any one of us. But my great fear is that this story may not end with “blood on the hands” of just the radio djs … but on every person who has pointed the finger at these two hosts who have learnt a very, very hard way a very big life lesson.

  231. Kate
    10 Dec 12
    12:03 pm

  232. Remember the harmless Home and Away ‘prank’? Watch the whole clip. 2DayFM have a history of emotionally manipulating, humiliating, exploiting and bullying people in the name of ‘entertainment’. It was only a matter of time til one of their ‘pranks’ backfired. Rhys Holleran has been making excuses for far too long, his head should be on the block, not the two DJ’s who only did what was expected of them.

  233. Alberto Rosso
    10 Dec 12
    12:05 pm

  234. Nothing can take away the fact that prank calls are per se juvenile.

    The juveniles who perpetrate them (and for that matter the mouth breathers who listen to the stations that broadcast them) are clearly unaware that there can be unintended consequences arising from their actions.

    However being unaware of the consequences of your actions is not a plea of innocence. The prisons are full of folk who did not realise that there could be negative outcomes of their actions.

    This pair, if they are found to be even partially culpable for the death of the nurse, should suffer for their actions as should the management who employed them and no doubt gave them carte blanche to do whatever they could dream up to increase ratings.

    However I don’t imagine that the penalties when ACMA finally gets around to deciding that there may have been a breach of what is laughingly described as a code of conduct will in any way fitting.

  235. Waaah
    10 Dec 12
    12:11 pm

  236. I wasn’t a fan of this prank either. This sort of stuff just makes Australian’s look even more backward. Well done 2Day FM, you’ve dragged your country down another notch!

  237. Charlie
    10 Dec 12
    12:14 pm

  238. This is stupid, childish appalling behavior…. these presenters need to have and understand respect, morale and ethics, the Princess is in hospital unwell, yes she is a public figure but even she has the right to privacy when ill and in hospital, this should not come down to regulations and sanctions it should be about basic common sense and having a joke that is not going to be funny to the person on the receiving end is not a ‘joke’
    It is simple, consider the other persons feelings before being a prankster to them, put yourself in their shoes and imagine how you would feel being at the end of the joke….. everything is not just about being the loudest, most controversial and funniest, respect and dignity offers longer lasting gratitude. It is very hard to have any empathy for the people involved in such childish behavior.

  239. Sue
    10 Dec 12
    12:20 pm

  240. ” Scapegoats ” – I find it rather disturbing that in this dreadful issue that the word “scapegoat” hasnt been proferred.

    Indeed the radio announcers are purely the “Scapegoats” of the entire situation. As well as the Australian national pastime of “pranking and fooling around and poking fun” we are bloody appalling at making others scapegoats for a bigger issue,

    Let the announcers off the hook – charge the bloody legal dept at SCA – and producer heads.

  241. Aginald
    10 Dec 12
    12:24 pm

  242. The DJ’s are scapegoats pure and simple. In the 50 year history of radio prank calls no one has cared or bothered with the outcomes, the humor or embarassment caused. Are they responsible for the 2 nurses involved who either put the phone call through, or divulged information they shouldn’t? No.

    The hospital having the most famous couple in all of England in their ward should have had better protocols in place pure and simple. It’s sad that their management has been able to deflect the blame to a couple of wannabe comedians.

  243. Simon
    10 Dec 12
    12:26 pm

  244. And this….

    “I’m from the U.K. and would like to go on the record in saying that if the phone call had not been made then this tragic death of a young woman would never have occurred.”

    …sums the entire situation up for me.

    No phone call. No death. Everything else is just semantics. The radio station are responsible.

  245. Grant
    10 Dec 12
    12:31 pm

  246. LeahDaisyD your use of gasoline and a match was an interesting one. I struggle to see either side of this absolute tragedy as being right, but the gasoline I see as rather an apt description. But instead of thinking only about how the radio station was the match, perhaps we all need to stop and look at the broader picture.
    Ask ourselves firstly why nobody noticed there was gasoline spilt in the first place, or took time out to to clean it up. And secondly when it caught fire why nobody tried to put it out, but plenty were happy to pour more on or stand around and watch.
    Society needs to stop and think what it values. To me the judgemental attitudes here are part of the exact problem that would have been part of the cause of this tragedy. And the media choices available to us mean we can voice those judgements at will, to easily if you like. If we were less judgemental of others then perhaps people wouldn’t feel suicidal when they make that inevitable mistake. As any adult would know nobody is perfect, including themself.
    What happened can’t be undone, but blame might be closer to home than we’d all like to admit. Is everyone you know and love OK today?

  247. Nigel
    10 Dec 12
    12:47 pm

  248. The prank was cruel and not funny. Austereo should have known better. It’s what we have come to expect from that poor excuse for a radio station. Great article on how it relies on cruelty for entertainment here:

  249. Mark W
    10 Dec 12
    12:48 pm

  250. try ring up any hospital and getting information about the well being of a loved one in their care. You can’t as they are not aloud to hand over that informational to people over the phone. Its called privacy. So the nurse most prob did break the law, but you would have to think twice if the Queen rang and you said “No, I can not give you that info over the phone” , would someone say no to the Queen?

  251. Dingo
    10 Dec 12
    1:00 pm

  252. mob rule? or people power? For to long the voice of the people have been carefully filtered by the media, by the government and by the courts. For too long we have been told what is good for us and that, although we have freedom of speech, we had no vehicle for making our voices heard…NOW WE HAVE!…and isnt the media shitting itself…so called liberal media personalities came out strongly dismissing the community reaction against Alan Jones as inconsequential…now they are wiping the egg from their face…How much is this “prank” costing 2dayFM in revenue? Newspaper hacks, TV Personalities all dismissing a popular movement as mob rule and a flash in the pan…Well we have PROVEN that we can force large multi-national companies to change their positions, to spend their money elsewhere and we have clearly SHOWN that we want a more civilised and considerate discourse in our media and in our politics…do you think we will walk away from that?

  253. Annabelle Drumm
    10 Dec 12
    1:00 pm

  254. Although the outcome was unfortunate, nothing smaller would have provoked this much excellent discussion on the validity of prank calls or any form of entertainment which comes at the expense of others. Hopefully the discussion will make a difference in how radio runs their shows in the future.

  255. ant
    10 Dec 12
    1:47 pm

  256. Howproductionworks nails it in the comment earlier.

    Tim said: let’s also remember that it was pre-recorded and a production team, lawyers and managers all gave the go ahead before this was broadcast.

    Exactly. And they seem to be saying they couldn’t see this coming. Obvs they all deserve the sack for incompetence, and for presiding over a culture of bullying and intimidation. This isn’t the first ugly incident. There’s something ugly in the water over there, and they deserve to have to explain how they are persons of good character within the meaning of the Broadcasting Act. I can’t see how management there could possibly pass that test.

  257. MM
    10 Dec 12
    2:09 pm

  258. To all those attempting to exonerate the DJ’s and the network from blame, shame on you!
    To those suggesting that people are over reacting, you are a disgrace.
    All parties in the chain failed in their duties and must take responsibility.
    This prank was deliberately trying to exploit the ill health of the Duchess of Cambridge and her unborn child through a hospital. Who honestly thinks this is acceptable?
    The defence that no reasonable person could have foreseen the tragic suicide of one of the unwitting participants just doesn’t cut it. It happened, now take responsibility!

  259. ratSrepuS2619
    10 Dec 12
    2:12 pm

  260. When you bully and then become bullied you deserve the acrimony. We are now visiting retribution upon the bullies. But in doing so become bullies ourselves. Let ye who is without sin cast the first stone.

  261. Wang
    10 Dec 12
    2:13 pm

  262. It’s very naive to say and think that this hospital did not discipline the nurse, it’s an oportunity for the hospital to reverse the pressure caused by their lack of process and security on a poorly developed prank. Do you seriously think that this nurse was not reprimanded, and that suicide was caused by the prank alone, then you must believe in the Tooth Fairy!

  263. DP Jobling
    10 Dec 12
    2:23 pm

  264. I read via one of the news streams on line that the duo ‘featured’ in the on-air broadcast may now ‘opt to take a television show’ and l cringe from the soul. I hear the Leader of the Opposition Tony Abbott announce that we should ‘Wait for the dust to settle’ before addressing media restrictions or reviews and l cringe from the soul again.
    It is too obvious that it is unethical and indeed against the law in NSW to broadcast an interview without consent, or to record a conversation without the informed consent of an individual. For the most part the prank of the duo on air was promoted by the radio station as a ‘scoop… a “highlight of my career”(said Mel) and a promotional koo for the station’ – the station pulled advertising off air in order to avoid their advertisers from getting flack from boycotting public – So now one potential outcome is to launch the two young inexperienced ‘entertainers’ onto a tv show? The most absurd reaction imaginable in my opinion. Add the great Tony Abbott’s moderate in extreme reaction of (essentially) wait for it to blow over, and it is not so difficult to understand why there is a great public outrage being expressed. I seriously doubt we want to ignore the unethical behaviour being played out motivated by ratings, commercial gain over the lives of people trying to do their job – anywhere – not just in a hospital. And ignoring it until it dies down, goes away or the dust settles is tantamount to saying we shouldn’t have a public debate about it at all. That free enterprise should go along doing whatever they like to make a dollar at whatever cost. This is an international incident… this is a radio network buying into fraudulent unethical behaviour in order to grab a scoop get a laugh and promote a pair of wannabe celebrities. It’s beyond the pale. Even without the tragic loss of life involved it is wrong and shouldn’t be deemed acceptable. If the radio station is not punished it will be a very sad day… a landmark event… a shameful episode and the end of any dignity or ethics in Australian commercial broadcasting in my opinion.

  265. Guy Laurence
    10 Dec 12
    2:28 pm

  266. On the one hand a very minor royal’s medical condition was aired publicaly. On the other a person died. If the UK media wasnt so outraged at the former, the latter was unlikely to have happened.

  267. Beryl Spencer
    10 Dec 12
    4:05 pm

  268. What a balanced article from Tim. I have read through the many comments and yes there are many twists and suggestions. It seems when Prince Charles was approached, he made very light of the prank. I ask the question is the Hospital in fact the ones who have some to answer, if there is anything. I would have thought a Hospital of that standing would have very strict protocols in place and it is difficult to understand how:
    1 a prank call in such fake accent got past the switchboard.
    2 Why the Nurse on the ward responded and gave information.
    Incredible! But it appears this Nurse on the Ward had a far differnet response to the episode even it seems she was actually the one at fault.
    As for our Aussie DJ’s, a stupid prank on their part! However rather innocent and you would have to deal with so many entertainers who “impersonate Royalty and others”.
    Personally I don’t find many of the impersonators all that funny. None the less, this has happened. Please don’t let us now put so much pressure on these young DJ’s that they won’t be able to work for a long time. I’ve worked with youth for years, they are often “ot there”, “crazy” etc etc BUT they are young and alive. If a reprimand is in order, do so and let them stay alive without the pressure & get their lives back together. Certainly my heart goes out to the young Dad and his 2 kids in their terrible loss whatever the source of the wife and mother’s death !

  269. Beryl Spencer
    10 Dec 12
    4:08 pm

  270. Guy you are probably very correct. Perhaps British Media is reeling under the challenge of the Levison Report? and wanting to pass the blame!

  271. Téa
    10 Dec 12
    4:22 pm

  272. I think that arguing over the semantics of the cause of suicide, and particularly about statistical ’causes’, is missing the point. What is “normal” and accepted as fact in suicide studies is moot when talking about such an unusual & acutely stressful situation.

    I think we can agree that a private citizen, suddenly thrust into the scrutiny and judgement of the world… without having done anything or made any decision where that fame was even a remote possibility… is not a situation that can be backed up by what is “usual” in terms of suicide.

    We’ve seen what fame does psychologically, even to those that seek fame out. Those that go “viral” on the net, on some level know that it is always a possibility. Even that is not a fun thing to do if you are unprepared.

    But imagine: overnight worldwide scrutiny over a dumb mistake you made at work. Absolutely *nothing* Jacinta did implied that she chose this in any way. The rules don’t apply here. I think most of us, faced with her situation, may have responded in a similar way.

    It’s a poor reflection on our society not only that we think that it is OK to make any single person public property (with or without their consent), but that we didn’t see that not everyone wants to be famous…

  273. about time
    10 Dec 12
    5:11 pm

  274. It about time the radio hosts & radio stations take responsibility for their actions. Fact is that they intimidate and influence people. Whether the person/victim is “healthy” or not, the radio has a social responsibility to behave in a moral and humanistic way.
    Its not entertainment and that is why i dont listen to commercial radio. It was only a matter of time before their immaturity and their so called “entertainment” ended in tragedy.

  275. Lucy Baker
    10 Dec 12
    5:32 pm

  276. Tim – You’re comparing journalistic coverage of drink driving incidents with Mel Greig’s disgraceful participation in a bullying stunt that regardless of the suicide, was taking nurses away from their lifesaving work? Give us a break.

  277. Monique
    10 Dec 12
    5:43 pm

  278. Just a thought– “the world would be a much better Place if we were half as good as we expected the otherfellow to be” -aristotle

  279. Annie
    10 Dec 12
    6:27 pm

  280. If this woman really did take her life due to the hounding she received from the British press over her mistake then shouldn’t we learn from that? Shouldn’t we know better than to kick people when they’re down? When they’re already condemning themselves far more than anyone else could?
    These DJs pulled a stunt that could easily have had a number of unfortunate outcomes, including the nurses losing their jobs. They need to learn a lesson from it. They don’t need to have their lives ruined for it.
    One life has already been ruined due to society’s need to repeatedly and publicly punish people for their mistakes. How many of us have never made a mistake, done something stupid without thinking it through first? Most of us are lucky enough to never have our mistakes come to the attention of the media. Enough is enough, it’s done and it’s time to stop baying for blood.

  281. Non-stop shaking head
    10 Dec 12
    7:22 pm

  282. This is hilarious, the only person who is not dribbling garbage is #90. “Boris”.

    You need to understand:
    – Camilla could have succeeded in such a prank call at that hospital.
    – A ten year-old could have succeeded in such a prank call at that hospital.
    -Elmo could have succeeded in such a prank call at that hospital.
    – Need I go on??

    The only moron is anyone who is distracted like an ant to the wrong blame train.

    YES we need to clean up the radio industry, and prank calls are out of date. That’s obvious. But in time (when common sense flushes away the garbage) we will realise that the radio announcers were almost as unlucky as the nurse.

    THIS is TWO (2) issues, one issue is global radio conduct, and one issue is about poor management by the royal family and that hospital.

    The second issue is what led to the nurse’s death. (remember, elmo, ten year-old, Camilla … don’t forget to remind yourself)

    Suicide should only be discussed when it can be fully and independently confirmed that a suicide has in fact occurred. Have some respect.

  283. David
    10 Dec 12
    8:16 pm

  284. Tim. Agreed.

  285. Malcolm
    10 Dec 12
    8:39 pm

  286. What is also concerning…is the fact that the nurser’s response was suicide. There is a lot of talk about “online bullying” that has led to suicide. I think that’s sad. That is that people don’t have the support of friends & family necessary to help them through a tough time without ending their life senselessly. Sometimes people are gonna say bad things, play pranks, embarrass you. I hope people can be strong and learn to deal with these situations, and have enough good in their life to continue enjoying it, without anger and suicide as a response. I would hope this raises awareness about the fragility of so many’s mental health … on the balance, relatively easily pushed over the edge. I think this is more the problem to deal with, how to strengthen people to deal with these situations. If due to paranoia of offending we end up with a world without humour, that would be a much sadder place for everyone.

  287. Victor Judge
    10 Dec 12
    8:41 pm

  288. Beryl,this isn’t about the british media;The concensus of opinion from these threads is that what happened was wrong and the consequence of the call is that a woman took her own life.

    Don’t try to broaden the discussion in order to dilute this.

    This is not an anti-Australian backlash,it is ordinary people simply having had enough of idiotic behaviour by the DJ’s and appalling decision making by the Stations management and lawyers.

    The dumbing down of ‘entertainment’ and the defending of such acts I and many others find repulsive.

    If there are to be no consequences for these terrible events then she has died in vain.

  289. thiru
    10 Dec 12
    8:41 pm

  290. Maybe now idiots like Matt Tilley of Fox fm will finally realise his “gotcha” calls are not that funny. For years foxfm have been playing pranks on people. What about Hamish and Andy and their silly childish pranks. This will hopefully cause a paradigm shift in Australian radio and a wake up call. First Alan Jones fiasco, then Kyle, now this. A lesson to be learnt from all this. Making jokes at others expense is not funny.

  291. Uninformed Commenter
    10 Dec 12
    9:57 pm

  292. I’m outraged!!!

    I don’t what about but whatever it is, I’m really outraged!!!

    I crave the warm (& arousing) sensation of condemning others. Lets see who I can castigate while I mastu, er, write:
    – The 2 DJs. They virtually killed that woman with their voices. Their voices like knives in the aether. What seems like a puerile student jape (“Has anyone seen Mike Hunt?”) is really a stealth weapon of terrible power. Expect the CIA to come calling. Altho not prank calling. They’re not very good at that.
    – 2DayFM. They just like the money. If pranks = money then 2DayFm = happy. If pranks = no money then 2DayFM = sad. It’s a simple programming sub-routine. Where’s the heartwarming diplomacy of Karl Sandilands when you need it?
    – The hospital. “Hey, we’ve got a patient that the world’s media is obsessing over like a homicidal stalker. Do you think we should have some, like, proper access protocols?” “Nah, just let the nurses deal with it”. That turned out well.
    – The dead nurse herself. I really have no idea why you killed yourself. But let me construct one anyway.
    – The Royal Family. Actually I really want to blame these privileged, self-serving c***s but don’t think I can. Damn you, 2DayFM, you have robbed me of my republican rage.
    – The Australian public. You love royal scuttlebutt. You love juvenile pranks. Lets face it, you’re scum. You are the kid that stands next the bully, laughing pathetically as they punch another victim behind the bike sheds. Wiping blood from 5 cents of stolen lunch money like it’s mud from dug up treasure.

    Now it might seem as though I am using a tragic death of an individual for my own selfish purposes. in which case, I should really do the decent the thing. And join the queue.

  293. Sue
    10 Dec 12
    10:21 pm

  294. I saw the interview on ACA tonight with the two presenters and whilst feeling huge sadness for the family of Jucintha, I feel unbelievably sorry for the presenters.
    An innocent idea by the “juniors” has blown up to be the worst time of their lives, what they did was silly but they believed they would be hung up on because of their appalling accents etc, it was then up to higher authorities to run or not to run.
    Has anyone ever considered as Jucintha did not leave a note ( I presume) it may not have been this incident that tipped her over the edge.
    As harsh as this may be Jucintha is responsible, she is the one who over reacted

  295. Geoff
    11 Dec 12
    4:26 pm

  296. Tim If you can’t tell the difference between a crime reporter and shock jock. God help your industry

  297. Clint
    11 Dec 12
    4:32 pm

  298. @Kate

    “I’m both embarrassed and ashamed to be Australian! What a way to put our country on the map!!! ”

    Woah… a little dramatic. I’m pretty sure most people new of Australia before these guys made a prank phone call.

  299. Wendles
    11 Dec 12
    5:08 pm

  300. Has anyone thought about the obvious deflection of blame here? Normally a hospital has responsibility to protect the privacy of their patients. There was no receptionist on duty when the nurse took the DJs call and with no protocol in place for her to follow she was duped. The nurse unfortunately took her life due the hospital administration’s embarrassment and her own unique problems. She wasn’t killed by two Australian DJs pulling a prank, which even Prince Charles found somewhat humorous. To blame the DJs is ludicrous when the hospital lacks protocol and the nurse is mentally unstable. 

  301. Shane
    11 Dec 12
    10:33 pm

  302. Arguably the nurse did not commit suicide because she felt embarrassed. With everything that nurses have to deal with, I doubt there would be many things that make them feel embarrassed enough to do that.

    I suggest she probably was destroyed when she realised the violation of trust she demonstrated. Yes she violated the trust, but the radio presenters contributed to the situation. They could have refused to make the call.

    I hope this results in the radio stations giving serious thought to what they consider t be entertainment. These segments are really low brow and not entertaining to a lot of consumer $$$.

  303. Gordon
    12 Dec 12
    10:06 am

  304. I am not the judge but someone is. Ethics, Ethics is what it is all about!!!!!!!!!!!
    A question how did ethics start, have a little Google ? It then is developed by education, but the question is who started education in the beginning? You will come up with the same answers.
    Any radio or newspaper reporters are bound by a code of ethics dare I say very loose.
    Pranks will always have an effect on a person but what has happened could of went 2 ways a scoop or what we have at present a disaster. We all have to live with the conseqences of our actions forever. Management today is mostly all about self pushing a subtle emotional abuse on far too many. Just look at the statistics of people who could change jobs tommorow? Yes I am an old Fart but remember good teaching will only ever come from the most popular book ever written, check it out.

  305. GM
    12 Dec 12
    2:22 pm

  306. I would imagine that the post prank media commentary was far more damaging than the prank itself. If the prank hadn’t been picked up by media across the world, with commentators saying how stupid the nurse was to believe the call was from the Queen, would she still be alive today? Had the prank gone under the media radar, she wouldn’t have been subjected to the intense public humiliation caused by the global media commentary. Yes, the prank was a stupid, but it’s way too simplistic to assign blame solely on the radio DJs themselves.

  307. Sue
    12 Dec 12
    2:40 pm

  308. Check the intentions.

    What Australia and UK is doing is INTENTIONALLY causing terrible and untoward grief towards the DJ’s and that is disgraceful.

    As a post above – what how would you all feel if one of the scapegoat DJ’s ended their life.

    Bloody humanity – funny isnt it how this FRENZY of hatred and vitriol and pack mob menality has risen.

    And oh whooo – why you all judge, lambast and point the blame finger – ooh that means that whatever “sins of error” you have done or are doing (and no one is bloody god) is swept away.

    I’m sure so many of the nasty posts are from people who are 150% perfect in their own lives.

    Show some humanity.

  309. huh?
    12 Dec 12
    3:15 pm

  310. It was a prank intended for local humour.. I think the British Press have a lot to answer for; for making ‘the prank’ a ‘news’ item in their market in the first place(when it wasn’t): the same market which happened to be the nurse’s market. They are the ones who had initially named and shamed this poor woman and contributed to her guilt/embarassment/ridicule – whatever you want to call it. The initial prank call didn’t deserve to be picked up and ran with by the UK media .. If it had of just stayed within little ol’ Aus.. it would’ve been yesterday’s news a week ago and this gorgeous nurse would have probably still been carrying out her duties.The DJs cannot be blamed – the Brits should really look in their own backyard.

  311. Lindsay
    12 Dec 12
    3:35 pm

  312. what a huge cop out by these two idiots, took no blame for anything it was some one else who filtered it some else it was passed on to , we dont know who they are, what a load of crap. they work there and have no idea who anybody else is, time to stand up and be responsible and honest, crocodile tears did not fool me . sack them and prosecute them, pair of wankers.

  313. first timer
    12 Dec 12
    3:43 pm

  314. I wonder what would have happened if Kate had been awake when the call was put through to the room? I think it is the hospital’s fault. Kate was not terminlly ill or anything so that’s why the radio station felt the prank was doable. The Djs expected to get an ear bashing, they expected to mock themselves in a way. There is such massive global media interest in the pregnancy they would have felt they had to run it when they got through with ease (this was clearly regrettable but hindsight is 20/20). I also wonder if the nurse that spoke with the DJs had a go at Jucintha, perhaps admonishing her “you said it was the Queen on the phone jucintha!!! I believed you!!! Now I might lose my job!!” We all might say that to a collegue in the same boat. It also brings up questions of cultural differences. And I find a lot of the British social media outright racist (a lot of “I hate Australians” )

  315. Sydneynudism
    13 Dec 12
    11:42 am

  316. Funny how many people are attaching their own agenda to this. Probably best to pause and let the authorities do their job, whilst supporting all those involved.

  317. Wow
    14 Dec 12
    3:52 pm

  318. Radio is dead.

  319. ratsrepus
    14 Dec 12
    4:57 pm

  320. @ Wow….. Funny that’s what John Logie Baird said.

  321. Morris
    14 Dec 12
    6:06 pm

  322. 1. PRANK?
    It wasn’t a prank or a hoax – there was no punchline or gotcha moment – it was a straightforward deception to obtain a patient’s private medical information to air on radio for the sake of entertainment.

    There was no way of predicting the tragic outcome, but Christian and Greig acted in a professional capacity with reckless disregard for any potential victims of their con – whoever ended up being tricked into disclosing the info – ward clerk, nurse, doctor, CEO – a ward clerk could plausibly be fired or demoted, a doctor’s reputation could have been damaged or hospital paying damages to the royals or causing emotional distress to a nurse. And a indifference to any suffering caused to the patient who is the ultimate victim of this call, especially had the disclosure contained information of a more sensitive nature. They sought the info at whatever cost in pursuit of ratings and didn’t care about consequences for victims.

    The hospital does have protocols for client privacy which failed. When someone is tricked out of money, it is not the victims fault. If someone leaves their window open and is robbed, it is not their fault. If a girl wears provocative clothing and is assaulted, as much as some may argue – it is actually not her fault. It is ALWAYS the fault of those committing the wrong act, being unethical or immoral. Blame cannot be attributed to the nurse simply because she didn’t stick to hospital protocols or might have had a pre-existing mental illness, but only on those acting dubiously.

    All these posts reflect an extreme range of views – some condemning the actions of Christian and Greig, and others blaming the nurse. I feel these collective viewpoints indicate that our (society’s) expectation for media to conduct itself ethically or with intelligent, humane or non-commercial judgement is all but absent. So does that excuse the pair because they have only done what any other shock jock would have done or does this sort of thing go on a bit but only rarely ends in such catastrophe?

    So do we feel sorry for them and let the media protect them, or make examples out of them? The author is right – with both the act itself and now the national controversy, maybe they already have enough to deal with.

  323. Wow
    17 Dec 12
    2:50 pm

  324. I fell asleep reading the comments, yawn.

  325. Sydneynudism
    17 Dec 12
    6:38 pm

  326. When the next big story comes it will overtake this issue. Unfortunately, we didn’t have to wait long