The tragic death of Nurse Jacintha Saldanha only days after answering a prank phone call by two Australian radio presenters, has sparked a media and public backlash against 2Day FM and the two DJs involved. But did Mel Greig and Michael Christian actually do anything wrong?
The answer is a resounding yes, if you accept the view of the mob mentality of social media.
Reading some of the comments on Facebook brings to mind descriptions of medieval witch hunts; only instead of pitch forks and torches, the ignorant peasants are armed with computers and smartphones.
“Manslaughter. Wonder how they sleep at night now.” Posted Ch Lw.
Roger Thornton went even further. “The station should be taken off air and the directors fined out of existence. The jocks should be prosecuted for involuntary manslaughter, jailed and removed from public life”.
Thankfully, interspersed among these morsels of righteous ignorance are comments from people not caught up in the mob mentality gleefully taken up by mass media.
Comments that remind people that all the presenters did was badly impersonate the Queen and ask to speak to Kate Middleton. They did not ‘take the piss’ out of this woman, or insult her in any way, shape or form.
Remember, it was only two days ago that Prince Charles was joking about the incident; but of course that was before this tragedy occurred. Until then he saw nothing untoward in it.
That is because there was not. Radio DJs have been making prank calls for decades, and while some may not think it funny, the majority do, otherwise the practice would cease.
In the nineties Guido Hatzis made a living out of it, and a best-selling CD. He even on one occasion rang the palace and asked for a job, so it is not as if these two presenters did anything that has not been done by their predecessors thousands of times before.
Chris Chapman, chairman of the Australian Communications and Media Authority (ACMA) announced today that the ACMA “will be engaging with the licensee, Today FM Sydney, around the facts and issues surrounding the prank call”.
However I very much doubt the ACMA will find that the presenters have done anything wrong. They are not journalists so are not bound by the same ethical standards, such as not impersonating someone to get a story.
While all the blame has been put squarely on 2Day FM and the two DJs, none of the righteous comments on Facebook questioned the hospital’s reaction to the nurse’s mistake.
With all the media publicity, and questions being raised about whether or not the Royals should continue using the King Edward VII hospital, how did they deal with Jacintha Sadanha.
It is doubtful hospital bosses sat down with her and offered her tea and scones while discussing the matter.
More than likely, she was lambasted to within an inch of her life; and of course who knows how fragile her mental state was prior to the incident. Hospital staff would be more aware of this than two radio presenters on the other side of the world.
Mel Greig and Michael Christian have been taken off the air indefinitely, either by themselves or the station, and that is unfair. While the death of Jacintha Saldanha is a terrible thing, it was not caused by these presenters, and the attacks on them are unjustified.
They are both feeling extremely upset about the incident, and although they both no doubt wish they had their time again, they should not blame themselves.
They did nothing wrong.