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RADIO PRANK CALLS: THERE ARE RULES

UPDATE:

It’s inevitable – the antics of 2DayFM and the tragic death of British nurse Jacintha Saldhana will drag the commercial Australian radio industry into a new era of tighter regulation.

And is the industry happy about that? It should be.

What we have in place now is a set of agreed guidelines called Commercial Radio Codes of Practice. These codes were developed by the industry and contain guidelines, not laws, administered by the Australian Communications and Media Authority.

The debate on whether 2Day FM breached the ACMA code centre around a few parts of it ,which, I believe is due for some overhaul, particularly ...

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244 Comments

  • Reply December 8, 2012

    Aaron

    Prank calling someone in their work capacity is the low point of comedy. Putting a target in a position where their job at risk is way beyond acceptable.

    Screwing with any persons ability to put a roof over their family and food on the table *just for a laugh* is not good comedy .. its gutless.

    .. and now we have a new low.

    • Reply December 9, 2012

      trust & respect

      false impersonation, manslaughter, jail

    • Reply December 9, 2012

      Richard

      Agreed.
      And under the circumstances they’d be very rash to try on the laughable interpretation of “Public Interest” (someone in the public found it interesting) that the media usually falls back on.

    • Reply December 9, 2012

      Richard

      “In more than 11 years on breakfast radio, as a member of the 2DayFM Morning Crew, I was party to prank calls. ”

      (From Wendy’s article).

      Yes but did you ever use the recording youd made without the permission of the person being hoaxed? (it was, of course, an offence to have made the recording at all without prior permission but at least allowing the “victim” a right of veto over broadcast of the material would be more defensible)

    • Reply December 12, 2012

      Yogi

      Shameful act, irresponsible presenters with lack of insight -and indeed lack of knowledge of process in their industry as demonstrated by their responses during interview on Today Tonight. Total lack of respect for the Queen and lack of sensitivity for the crises recently experienced by Kate in France. How can impersonation, lies and irresponsibility stand the tests of reasonableness or public interest?
      Very shameful demonstration of how “deculturized” and value-less we have become.

    • Reply December 15, 2012

      les

      you guys get off on invading other peoples lifes. how would you feel if someone did that to your mother and tricked her and made her feel so bad that she ended her life… you guys are scum bags

  • Reply December 8, 2012

    Nikki McWatters

    Thanks for putting some perspective on this tragedy. I doubt there was any malice or ill intent by the D.J’s who must be feeling shattered over this turn of events. Pranks go wrong all the time and it does seem incredulous that there were not stricter procedures in place at the hospital. A terrible outcome to something that was meant to be funny. I hope Kate and William are not too traumatised by the turn of events.

    • Reply December 8, 2012

      Rob

      How would this possibly count as funny even if it had been successful without the death of an individual?

    • Reply December 9, 2012

      Richard

      Recording of a telephone conversation in this manner is very likely a breach of The federal Telecommunications (Interception) Act 1979. ACMA’s rules are pretty much irrelevant when a crime has been committed.

      British law is quite similar to Australian Law in this respect. It will be interesting to see if the British authorities move towards extradition of any of the radio station’s staff – I can’t see their leaving Australia would be any great loss.

    • Reply December 9, 2012

      Richard

      Nikki, I agree that it’s most unlikely that the presenters intended to do irreparable harm. It’s trash radio and the presenters are hardly the pinnacle of their profession but it’s really pretty unlikely that they didn’t know that even recording a phone conversation without the other party’s knowqledge, let alone broadcasting it, was illegal.

  • Reply December 8, 2012

    Danielle

    The reports I’ve read say she was the nurse who answered the call and put it through to the ward nurse who then went on to spill the beans …

    • Reply December 8, 2012

      Rob

      At 5:30am we generally don’t have receptionists etc on duty. We are there to keep a hospital functioning and we all pitch in to do what is needed. One of the general duty nurses would have picked up the phone and dealt with it as she saw fit.

      If you’re suggesting we should also train all nurses in potential media pranks then I think you’re missing the point and blameshifting away from a couple of media types trying to have a jolly on to someone who actively works to assist people in need.

      Maybe that’s acceptable in your world, I wonder how you’ll feel when you or a loved one is in need of care and idiots are tying up skilled resources with “pranks” like this one?

      • Reply December 8, 2012

        Wendy Harmer

        I am CLEARLY not doing that.
        What I am attempting to do here is remind everyone of their rights and responsibilities.
        Radio stations must play by the rules in place.
        Professionals going about their vital work – or any other person- should not be harrassed or tricked.And they have rights!
        How you can interpret this article as anything other than asserting both…??
        Why the Duchess of Cambridge, as a patient, is less protected than, say, Jennifer Lopez in a hotel bar,is baffling.

        • Reply December 8, 2012

          Rob

          Yes, you did.

          “Just what protocols were lacking at King Edward VII hospital?”

          So, according to you, we need protocols to be ready for morons ringing up at 5:30 am. It’s clearly our fault for not having done so.

          Personally I’d rather focus on your care, although I could be persuaded that leaving a rubber chicken inside you to show up on all future X-Rays could be an amusing way to go, or perhaps I can record an abortion of your medical file and then leave it for your partner to find, or maybe just a few “prankster” file notes of clinical visits where you want an AIDS test because you participated in unsafe sex with a significant number of partners?

          Yep, that would be so awesomely funny.

          Of course, I could then excuse myself on the basis that I was “embarrassed” and I “blurted out” who I was before it all got too far. Unless your partner had dumped you on air of course…

          • December 8, 2012

            Clare

            It’s clear the media and health professions operate according to very different rules. As Rob pointed out above, health professionals can’t go around pranking patients. It would be misconduct, and they would probably lose their jobs. But I guess in radio, where no one’s life hangs in the balance, pranks are just a laugh, no harm done.

            I don’t pretend to know the nurse’s circumstances either, but I do know that she was made a laughingstock for falling for the prank, and she played a part in breaching patient confidentiality. It may be just a laugh to outsiders, but this is a pretty serious mistake for a health professional to make regarding any patient, let alone the future Queen of England.

            The shame and disgrace and humiliation she felt in failing to perform her duty may well have driven her to suicide. You don’t have to be depressed beforehand to resort to suicide. A sudden event that places you under extreme stress is enough. Look up the condition ‘adjustment disorder.’ Put an individual under enough pressure, damage their reputation and self-worth enough…and hell, ANYONE could be driven to take their own life.

            I’m sure no one at Austereo intended this tragic outcome to occur, but the management need to be held accountable for promoting the prank online – even after their initial apology – and allowing this fiasco to spiral out of control.

          • December 8, 2012

            Andrew

            Rob, of course you have to have protocols, especially for VIP’s, so it would be okay in your mind if a membe r of the pazzarazzi rang up and got info about an important patiant, or what if it was a terroist or someone intent on doing harm to the VIP. Your in a hospital you dont only expect to be looked after but you expect your private info to be kept private, not given out to anyone that bothers to ring up.

        • Reply December 8, 2012

          Rob

          as for your protection example – I would suggest that anyone who thinks a hospital patient’s environment is akin to a celebrity in a bar is really out of touch.

          Maybe we should expect everyone to have an entourage and act out like media types. That’s it, let’s conform to that reality.

          It’s not a huge leap from this type of invasion to phone hacking. Do you support that as well? After all, you could claim that was a jolly rollicking prank, the message would still be there for the original owner to hear so where’s the harm? Right?

        • Reply December 9, 2012

          Richard

          Wendy, your attempt at balance is commendable but in this case, putting it crudely, the presenters engaged in criminal activity for financial gain. Yes the dreadful consequences would have been difficult to predict – I imagine they expected to be told to get lost immediately but if they succeeded in their impersonation, as they did, at the very least they would have humiliated someone. I guess you’ve made bad jokes yourself on occasions but I’d lay a few bob that they didn’t involve humiliation of total strangers and/or breaches of federal law.

  • Reply December 8, 2012

    Rob

    Great effort at ultimately blameshifting to the victim. You start off with a clear point about the rules but then it comes down to why didn’t a hospital have processes in place etc.

    Whilst I accept you work in the entertainment industry and this probably seems like a good way to earn a living you should consider that some of us work in less high profile, less publicly exposed jobs, which I would suggest actually have far greater public worth than a radio DJ.

    Why on earth you think we should have to be prepared for morons like these two calling us up at 5am and asking questions is beyond me. At 5am I am in one the midst of some of my busiest hours, the early risers are starting to wake and I have to check that the treatment regime is working, the patients are not receding and so on. I may well be well beyond my 12th hour at the hospital and whilst I often get intermittent shuteye in the “on call” room often I do not. The nursing staff who assist me and my colleagues are also busy at this time.

    And you want us to be aware and ready for people like you prank calling. Remind me of that if you’re ever under my care, I’ll be sure to put your care to the back of my mind as I thoroughly quiz any callers to establish their identity.

    • Reply December 8, 2012

      Andrew

      So your happy to give out private info to anyone that rings up rob, just because your too F*&^%^ busy to bother checking and making sure its not someone intent on doing harm.

  • Reply December 8, 2012

    Astri

    Honestly, I think prank calls are the lowest form of humour. Whenever one starts on the radio, I just change stations.

    I am horrified that a prank (intended or not) went so far as someone felt they had to take their own life.

    Hoping now that these stupid calls stop being the staple of radio humour.

    • Reply December 9, 2012

      Luc

      What we need to face up to, Wendy, is that humour is a form of aggression. Practical jokes, hoaxes and pranks are the lowest form of aggressive humour. The initiation ceremonies at University Colleges and Duntroon are good examples of this.

      Google it up. Here are a couple of references.
      http://www.telegraph.co.uk/science/science-news/6078247/Humour-is-an-act-of-aggression.html
      http://www.eurekalert.org/pub_releases/2007-12/bmj-hdf121907.php
      What is particularly nasty is when someone calls out the bullying jokester for what they are and the bully comes back with, “What’s wrong with you? Haven’t you got a sense of humour?”, adding insult to injury. And, of course, it is these bullies who squeal most loudly when the joke is on them.

  • Reply December 8, 2012

    Liz

    I just don’t anything funny about these pranks. I would have thought people would grow out of them at about 8 years old. And as has been pointed out to you; these are busy nurses who patients are relying in. And you think it’s okay to hassle them with pranks? And what about the invasion of Kate Middleton’s privacy?

    I hope the two announcers involved aren’t slaughtered over this. Obviously, this stupidity is part of 2 Day FM’s style. But, there needs to be some changes.

  • Reply December 8, 2012

    Bettina

    Thanks, Wendy for your informative article that puts the incident into perspective. I think we all need to have a sense of humour, a sense of compassion and not be so quick to lay the finger of blame onto others.

  • Reply December 8, 2012

    Penster

    Seriously, if a person suicides following a prank call which she only put through to the duty nurse, then that person must have been on the edge to begin with.

    • Reply December 8, 2012

      salty

      Penster: What a load of dangerous drivel!

      • Reply December 8, 2012

        Andrew

        The only person drivelling here salta is you., you honestly this commiting suicide is anormal reaction to what happen.

        • Reply December 9, 2012

          Lucy

          Normal, Andrew?
          What is normal?
          What percentage of the population suffers from depression?

          I have a young relative who as a child lived through two family breakups with a father and a step-father who were both nit-picking horrors.
          Consequently he is very insecure and concerned about approval. When he makes a minor mistake at work, (which you in your Lordly self-assurance might pass off as nothing), he is devastated by a sense of total lack of self-esteem to the point of saying, “It would be better for everyone if I were dead.”

          In fact he is highly competent and well-regarded by his employers.

          I think you may well-find that in the present state of the economy in England that there are many who fear that they will lose their jobs and be unable to get another one – and if they are 46 years of age with two children to support this could create a quite normal, unbearable anxiety.

        • Reply December 9, 2012

          Pedestrienne

          Ahahahhaa, “normal”. Yes, we’re all normal, normalling around, very little happening to us, no context affecting our thoughts or feelings – no past influencing us, no worries about the future. Everyone’s a blank slate and should all have the same reactions to things because we are all same and normal.

          How blisteringly ignorant of you.

    • Reply December 8, 2012

      over reaction

      Yeh I know she just over-reacted.

      Afterall, when she got to think about what she had done she realised that she just breached patient confidentiality.
      Her facebook account probably got bombarded with comments saying how could she fall for it.
      She should not have paid attention to any of the comments on the internet saying how stupid the person who gave out the information was.
      The sniggers she may have got from people she new.
      She should have just the hide like a rhinosaurus that you obviously, laughed it off and got on with it.
      P.S. you could make a million. You obviously have a hide of armor and don’t take any notice of public humiliation, shame, worry about work, embarressment (spelling alert). Write a book about how you have such a positive attitude and how to develop it and you could make millions!

    • Reply December 8, 2012

      Lucy

      So making a hoax call is OK with you because it would cause only a person who is “almost on the edge” to commit suicide.

      Now Jeff Kennett is asking us to be considerate of the hoaxers because they are sure to be upset. Well, they may be “almost on the edge” over the criticism they are getting, so we really don’t have to worry about them, do we?
      In any case the hoaxers might have considered what is happening in a hospital at 5:30 am and how many of the medical and nursing staff would be at their lowest ebb at that hour – or perhaps the hoaxers thought to strike in a moment when their prey was weakest?

      There is no question that they should not have broadcast what they did without the consent of the nurses whom they recorded. That is illegal.

      • Reply December 9, 2012

        Richard

        Lucy, you make good points.

        Another point that seems to have been forgotten, by Wendy as well, is that Nurse Saldanha, who died, was not the one who gave out details on the Duchess’ condition. What she did was transfer the call to a colleague (quite likely a friend) who then proceeded to give out information. Nurse Saldanha would almost undoubtedly have felt some responsibility for getting her colleague into trouble.

        I say it again – what the presenters did is, prima facie, illegal under federal law and discussion of ACMA rulles is at best irrelevant and at worst a smokescreen.

    • Reply December 8, 2012

      thoughtofsteppinginfront of train

      If only you knew what feeling belittled and humiliated was like – I really hope this is one thing you remain ignorant of. I understand entirely how she felt as I have taken a step towards an oncoming train.

    • Reply December 9, 2012

      Luy

      Penster, this (from the BBC website) may help you understand what happens to a nurse who breaches the confidentiality of a patient:
      “The New South Wales Nurses and Midwives’ Association said it has written to the general manager of 2Day FM, Jeremy Simpson, even before the death, explaining the “very serious professional consequences” if it had happened to a nurse in Australia.

      Association general secretary Brett Holmes said the nurses involved could potentially have had to go through three separate disciplinary processes, including those conducted by their employer and other inquiries conducted by the regulating authority and the Health Care Complaints Commission.

      He described these processes as “stressful and deeply traumatic experiences for many nurses and midwives, regardless of the level of wrongdoing”.

    • Reply December 9, 2012

      Jack Richards

      Penster, I couldn’t agree more. To top yourself over something so trivial seems inconceivable to me. I’d hazard the guess that she already had very profound problems and her suicide and the phone prank was just a co-incidence.

      But the English tabloids will be beating Australia over the head with it for ages. There’ll be all sorts of huffing and puffing and fake outrage, and ejaculations about how wise it was to boot all those beer-swilling yobs and chavs out of the mother country.

      The English upper-classes are chewing their on livers out over the fact that they dumped all the convicts, orphans, bastards, wastrels and gutter urchins on the other side of the world only to see them find mountains of gold, coal, iron and every other mineral, get rich, healthy and prosperous and even come back and beat the home country at every sport and even see a Tasmanian upstart marry into European Royalty. Not only that, but a working-class Taffy lass, with an accent that could grind rocks, has been elected PM of the colony! What an affront to decency that is – and she’s even (splutter, splutter and a spray of spit), met Her Majesty!

      And now those presumptuous villeins have dared to imitate the Queen, the Prince of Wales and the Royal dogs. It just can’t be tolerated.

  • Reply December 8, 2012

    Natasha Andrews

    I hate prank calls…I always have…they are the lowest form of humor…I have ALWAYS changed radio stations when one comes on and I will continue to do so!

  • Reply December 8, 2012

    suz

    great article on highlighting a radio stations responsibilities, but in doing so it reads as though u are accusing these radio personalities of being responsible for this woman’s suspected suicide. I hope I am reading that wrong.

  • Reply December 8, 2012

    Sarah

    What a sad day, the world has enough idiots, but is crying out for nurses… Now we’ve lost another

    • Reply December 8, 2012

      Benison O'Reilly

      Best comment of the day.

    • Reply December 8, 2012

      Andrew

      Im sorry she died, but do you really want someone that unstable looking after you when your in hospital

      • Reply December 9, 2012

        Lucy

        I don’t want anyone so unstable that they could place a hoax call to a hospital at 5:30 am being given licence to broadcast on the public air waves.
        I don’t want a radio station manager so unstable as to allow such a thing being allowed to make money out of playing tricks on hard working nurses.

  • Reply December 8, 2012

    FerrylBerryl

    I think Wendy’s good intentions are pretty clear here.

    I suspect what happened is what usually happens when there is a stuff up – sh!t rolled downhill. Instead of more senior hospital administrators taking the blame for poor shift numbers/ staff training in patient confidentiality/ security this nurse was reprimanded solely for the lapse. Who knows what else was going on in her life? Who knows what’s going on in anyone’s life? That’s why we NEED to consistently approach all our fellow man with respect and courtesy. Prank calls and trickery aren’t respectful.

    2DayFM station management were not solely responsible for this woman’s suicide but they certainly played a big role and they should be ashamed. Is it too much of a stretch for media suits to consider the fact that private citizens have a right to quiet privacy?

    • Reply December 9, 2012

      Bonzo

      I think it’s a bit of a class issue, a lack of sensititvity to the poor old worker drone who would have to at least endure a reprimand, sacking, whatever at least.

      Problem with this kind of prank is that thye’d be aware some worker is going to get the almighty shit kicked out of them, by peers and bosses. This was never going to be a win-win for this person.

  • Reply December 8, 2012

    Greg

    Wendy – great article. Only one problem though. My understanding (based on several reports) is that the prank WAS pre-recorded and cleared by Austereo’s legal team before it went to air.

    • Reply December 8, 2012

      Wendy Harmer

      Yes I’ve heard that too, although the radio program that has a lawyer on tap for such a quick response would be rare. Maybe 2DayFM do have such a person. I don’t know.

      • Reply December 8, 2012

        Lucy

        Wendy, would the laughter for the audience, climb in ratings for the station, whatever personal kudos the two DJs thought they would gain, have been any the less if, failing to get the OK from lawyers or management on the spot, they had delayed the playing of the tape until the following morning?

    • Reply December 9, 2012

      Lucy

      Wendy says: The hospital made no complaint …
      (and the fine hand of Max Moore-Wilton raises its ugly head, to mix a metaphor. Max Moore-Wilton deeply involved in the children overboard lies for John Howard).
      But Wendy, it is no longer true that the hospital is not complaining.
      From the BBC website,
      The chairman of King Edward VII Hospital , Lord Glenarthur wrote to the chairman of Southern Cross Austereo, Max Moore-Wilson, on Saturday, about the call

      “King Edward VII’s Hospital cares for sick people, and it was extremely foolish of your presenters even to consider trying to lie their way through to one of our patients, let alone actually make the call,” Lord Glenarthur wrote.

      “Then to discover that, not only had this happened, but that the call had been pre-recorded and the decision to transmit approved by your station’s management, was truly appalling.”

      Lord Glenarthur added: “The immediate consequence of these premeditated and ill-considered actions was the humiliation of two dedicated and caring nurses who were simply doing their job tending to their patients.”

      Prince William attended a charity event on Saturday night without his wife who is resting
      “The longer term consequence has been reported around the world and is, frankly, tragic beyond words.

      “I appreciate that you cannot undo the damage which has been done but I would urge you to take steps to ensure that such an incident could never be repeated.”

  • Reply December 8, 2012

    Sandra

    If the Duchess of Cambridge loses that pregnancy, God help any Australian living in London.

  • Reply December 8, 2012

    Charles Miller

    I’ve never liked prank calls (and other prank comedy), because too often it ends up an exercise in preying on people who just want to be helpful. I just end up cringing and feeling sorry for the poor bugger whose only crime was taking a stranger at face value.

  • Reply December 8, 2012

    Sandra

    Do we know the age of the nurse who put the call through, do we know her health issues? Whilst these sort of pranks don’t make me laugh; I really do think these DJ’s would have been absolutely gobsmacked they even got through to the general nurse. Neil Mitchell was discussing the matter with Jeff Kennett yesterday; they both hoped that the nurse would not be in trouble over it; but never the less thought it was a harmless call. If indeed, suicide is the end result; these DJ’s will have to live with this for the rest of their lives. I don’t think there will be many prank calls in future.

  • Reply December 8, 2012

    Roger

    Why is anybody prank calling a hospital?

    • Reply December 8, 2012

      Sam

      Bingo. This is what I find a bit much about all the excuses and “we could never have guessed” statements. They Prank. Called. A. Freaking. Hospital. There’s nothing to guess, you just don’t do that! It’s simply not comparable to calling a hotel.

  • Reply December 8, 2012

    Jodes

    Sorry, but this is blame-shifting. The radio station did not have to broadcast private medical information and did not have to risk someone’s career over a ‘laugh’. I’ve worked as a radio announcer, I would refuse to do this type of call because of those reasons. Nothing is gained by this type of ‘prank’. Its era is over, Wendy.

  • Reply December 8, 2012

    Jen

    Given that both hospital and royal family alleged that they did not blame the nurse and clearly it is the hospital administration or the royal family security who screwed up with their oversight, it sounds to me that there may be more things going on with this nurse’s mental state than we know. We don’t know how she has been treated by her peers or others around her. As shown in Wendy’s examples, there are other security breaches that happened to the Queen. We don’t see those people committing suicide. But it does prompt better security in the future. Prank calls highlights what possible criminals could also achieve. Similar to Chasers’ security breach with APEC security. That was even on TV. Instead of focussing on the blame, get some perspective.

    • Reply December 8, 2012

      Rob

      You have got to be joking! Do you support the rapist because the victim screwed up with her oversight? The murderer because the deceased didn’t pay enough attention to their security?

      These morons put a person in a position where they had broken the confidentiality of a patient, that’s a responsibility our field takes incredibly seriously – I can have my licence to practice taken away for such a breach and I will have wasted 6 years of uni plus another decade of ward work and I will need to find an entirely new field – and not only any patient but quite possibly the highest profile member of the Royal Family. This woman quite possibly had issues prior to the “prank”, but the emotional devastation of breaking confidence, of being suckered on public radio, of harming an institution the Brits revere would have caused her huge discomfort all by itself.

      And yes, the hospital administrators would have been on her case. She broke one of the cardinal rules and would have been censured at the very least because otherwise it is OK to let out patient details to all and sundry.

    • Reply December 8, 2012

      thoughtofsteppinginfront of train

      Jen – Please don’t take offense but you are a fool. To be belittled and humiliated as she was is hurtful beyond imagination – unless of course you understand what it feels like to step towards the oncoming train!!

  • Reply December 8, 2012

    Katherine

    As a nurse I was absolutely appalled that these people rang a hospital ward to elicit confidential medical information about a patient. It’s a disgusting thing to do. This is something that could have lost those nurses their jobs. It certainly exposed them to worldwide professional humiliation.

    Revolting behaviour from a foul media culture. That it has inadvertently led to the death of a, by all accounts, much loved and valued nurse only highlights that.

    • Reply December 8, 2012

      Rob

      Spot on. To be quite frank nurses get paid bugger all for what they do but we couldn’t live without them. I couldn’t do my job without a whole bunch of people making sure the things I ask to be done in terms of patient care are actually done.

      Of course, I could spend my time doing it all. Only issue there is you would need about 30 times more doctors because we’d be so busy doing the routine practical that we couldn’t simultaneously undertake diagnosis. Nurses I work with carry a huge amount of tasks in their head at all times, they have to remember what needs doing and when for each patient and when to bring anything unusual to my attention. Distracting them from being the eyes and communications of small details is just plain stupidity.

      These lackwit media types should spend 3 months doing a genuine nurses job, not just some pseudo PR spin makework role. Put them through the first month of a trainee’s practical education and see how they like it. Then get them shadowing a real nurse on a real ward and make sure that the media muppet is on the spot in the same way the nurse is. I reckon their precious ego would collapse within a single shift.

  • Reply December 8, 2012

    Daniella

    I would like to know out of curiosity, what exactly the production people behind this radio duo was thinking? Did no one say ‘ look, this is just a huge invasion of privacy , we are not doing this’ ? How was the phone number found? l would have thought there would have been a huge amount of security around Kate and possibly a private phone line installed so that she could legitimate phone calls from family and friends.Were not all of the nursing staff told at no time should they divulge any information to anybody via phone until the identity of the caller can some how be proven? I also wonder how many ‘other’ media types all around the world also tried to call the hospital for information and whether they successfully got through or were stopped at the front gate, so to speak. I would be asking these questions first before blaming a poor nurse doing her job and has now taken her life as a result.

    • Reply December 8, 2012

      Rob

      They were thinking: “RATINGS GOLD!!”

  • Reply December 8, 2012

    Louise

    I have to agree with Roger, why are they prank calling a hospital to begin with? Would they do the same to a police, fire, or ambulance station? Hospitals are full of sick people with doctors and nurses dong serious work to get them back on their feet.
    I think it should be added to the list of rules that they not be allowed to call any place where people are being treated medically. It’s just unethical, and the two who placed the call at 2day fm should be downright ashamed of themselves and made to work for a week on nightshift in the hospital with the responsibility of them answering any phone calls for the entire shift.
    I can’t disagree with your comment more at the end where you say “and, in good spirit…” Are you kidding? Good spirited would have been to not place the phone call to begin with, to leave a sick pregnant woman alone, and to leave the people looking after her alone too. There’s not “good spirit” about it, just a plain old nasty sense of humour, and now someone has taken their life.
    And for those who are saying things about her mental health. I’m sure she had no mental health problems whatsoever until this phone call took place and the British tabloids made mince meat out of her. Not to mention being totally embarrassed at work. Shame on you
    And rightfully so the two DJS have not gone to work. Nor should they ever again. I think it’s time for them both t hang their hats up gracefully. Enough damage has been done, Australia and the world doesn’t need another Kyle Sandilands.
    I agree with Sarah’s comment. Too many idiots, not enough nurses.

  • Reply December 8, 2012

    Bob

    At school, this used to be called bullying: a clique making fun of an outsider, unaware of the in jokes and taunts, for the amusement of the group and the feeling of power for the ring leaders.
    Possibly exposure to schoolyard bullying toughened us up, but in the 21st century it’s called harassment in the workplace.
    Prank call your mates, if you must, but leave people innocently doing their jobs alone.
    Has any prank call ever been so funny that the victim has been laughing hysterically, or is it more a case of ha ha you got me, now can I please get back to what I was doing before you needlessly interrupted and embarrassed me?
    It’s just not very comedic.

    • Reply December 8, 2012

      Andrew

      No it wasnt Bob, bullying is when you force, coerce or threaten someone into doing something they dont want to do, please explain to me how the DJ’s done any of those things, they made a phone call, asked for info and were given info, no bullying involved whatsoever.

      • Reply December 9, 2012

        Lucy

        Every day I get lying emails coercing me into losing money one way or another. I am not stupid enough to fall for them, but many, many people have lost thousands of dollars to these liars and essentially bullies.
        You may not call this bullying, but my dictionary says for “bully” – use superior strength or influence to intimidate , typically to force him or her to do what one wants.
        The “superior strength” used on the nurses was the impersonation of the Queen. This is the hospital of choice for the Royal Family and a ‘phone call from the Queen is not beyond the realms of possibility. To ignore or accept such a telephone call is dangerous territory for an employee of this hospital.
        So “bullying” is the appropriate word.
        These two DJs were lying bullies. All the posters to this, and other blogs, who take delight in lese-majesty, should realise that what these DJs did was put their own egos and selfish interests above the welfare and right to fair treatment of two ordinary working women, the two nurses.

  • Reply December 8, 2012

    Critical OUtsider

    Folks like these two shock jocks have forfeited their right to access to ANY broadcast or print media EVER AGAIN. Their totally irresponsible actions have caused two children to be orphaned, and a spouse to be widowed, One may well argue that the RN’s reaction was ‘extreme and could not be anticipated’ but that IS how she reacted isn’t it? This professional, who by all accounts was a highly responsible and caring nurse, compulsive about providing teh best possible care to others, felt a sense of failure, and an immense sense of shame resulted, and she reacted to pressures directly incited by the action of two juvenile, irresponsible, moronic broadcasters, out to get a quick laugh at her expense. Not just poor taste – but irresponsible, socially inept, and simply disgusting – not to mention an intentional effort to invade the privacy of the patient in question. Some folks will want the shock jocks to commit suicide themselves – a somewhat appealing thought, I admit (has soem sense of justice, doesn’t it? ) – Some folks will want them hung – But I really don’t: Morons like this should live a LONG, LONG life: That way, maybe, just maybe, someday they can actually reflect on the untold misery they have inflicted on the innocent folks they subjected to the sequelae of their irresponsible actions (without ever even having the guts to identify themselves as being part of a hoax – which I understand may well violate applicable broadcasting regulations – I guess that makes them cowards as well – most shock jocks seem to be, now that I think of it). (Sadly enough, I doubt they have the smarts to comprehend that at this time – their PR picture notwithstanding).
    These idiots MUST be taken off the air PERMANENTLY. For some actions, there is no recovery. You two: that is where you are in my book. Just disappear, and don’t EVER even think about trying to come back!

    • Reply December 8, 2012

      DJP

      While the prank was silly, let’s look at why it has caused so much outrage, when the hoax was not malicious or threatening. Maybe people should lighten up about the royals, instead of treating them like gods.
      The prank did not cause a suicide, however pathetic it was. And let’s stop vilifying the presenters before we see another suicide.

    • Reply December 8, 2012

      Andrew

      Well actually outsider, it was the mothers actions that left the 2 kids orphaned not the DJ’s. So your another one that thinks the dJ’s should take responsibility but are prepared to let the nurse off with no responsibility whatsoever.

      • Reply December 9, 2012

        Lucy

        Andrew, the nurse is dead and beyond (earthly) judgement.

        These two DJs and their station management (regardless of what happened to the nurse) breached legal requirements that people must give consent before a recording of their voices can be broadcast. (That’s what Wendy says)..
        These two DJs recklessly, for their own aggrandisement, exploited fellow human beings.
        These two DJs set up for humiliation and derision two members of the nursing profession.
        These two DJs made a hoax call to a hospital and lied.
        These two DJs smirked and giggled about what they had done.
        These two DJs are beneath contempt.
        Why are you defending them?

  • Reply December 8, 2012

    samantha

    Unless we know it was suicide, then we are all jumping to conclusion once again.
    My first reaction to the prank was the strong possibility of these 2 nurses losing their jobs, and being publicly humiliated. The level of humiliation is greater in a profession that is the most respected. If the young woman suicided, then you could start with this premise. Twelve months and the young radio presenters will be back on air, but their lives will never survive the incident, either.

    • Reply December 8, 2012

      andilee

      Oh Samantha, how right you are! My first reaction to this news was that the poor love had killed herself after being fired or otherwise penalised – for transferring a phone call, for Chrissakes!! Apparently, that’s not the case – although I find it hard to imagine that someone could get involved in a media circus like this without some fairly “robust” feedback from the colleagues… I’d love to see some more media investiation around this issue just to confirm that what was said corresponds to what really happened…

    • Reply December 9, 2012

      Lucy

      How young are these radio presenters?
      Greig is 29/30 years of age and has been around in radio for a long time, as has Christian. They are not novices.

  • Reply December 8, 2012

    Jack

    I sympathize for the poor nurse and grieve for her family; public, global shame over a mere indiscretion clearly devastated her. I honestly hope that the two DJs do not suffer physical harm for their moronic stunt, but if they did break the ACMA broadcasting rules, they should be fired, if only to set a precedent that “enough is enough.” I mean, surely some employment exists in Australia for people with their skill sets — counting wombats, for instance. Oh, unless the wombat is an endangered species. Old habits are, in fact, hard to break, and why should a marsupial suffer?

    • Reply December 8, 2012

      Lucy

      Yes, let’s find another job for these two incompetent DJs.
      How about sending them to a Call Centre in India?

  • Reply December 8, 2012

    Bernadette

    Regardless of the rules these DJs would have known that had they got through and had any questions been answered by staff, that it was highly probable that those staff members would lose their jobs over it and also feel humiliated and shocked over the airing of the tape. There may be more casualties within the hospital staff as well as this poor nurse and her family. Are radio stations encouraging their staff to breach the rules all for the sake of ratings?

  • Reply December 8, 2012

    Liz

    I suspect 2Day FM couldn’t care less if they break any rules. All that happens after a protected investigation by ACMA is that they get a slap on the wrist. Self-regulation doesn’t work.

    I don’t want to see the two announcers bullied, either. They’re working in an environment where this behaviour is seen as valid. They seem to have lost their critical faculties.

  • Reply December 8, 2012

    Veuve

    Suing 2Day FM is a logical step for the hospital and the nurse’s family. Prank calls are pathetic but if the person being pranked gives permission for it to be aired then fine. As Wendy points out 2Day FM did not follow the rules. A woman has killed herself because of the humiliation. I can only guess employing intelligent compassionate staff isn’t particularly important to 2Day FM

  • Reply December 8, 2012

    Greg

    Wendy – what do you think of 2DAY FM’s network boss official statement that they “broke no rules” – a statement that was repeated several times in the new conference?

    • Reply December 8, 2012

      Wendy Harmer

      That’s interesting, because as I read these ACMA regulations, the broadcasters would have had to identify themselves and ask for permission to run the call… and that seems unlikely. I await further details. Happy to be proven incorrect.

      • Reply December 8, 2012

        Greg

        You put up a VERY compelling case that they did in fact break the rules. It’s right there in the (ACMA) Commercial Radio code of practice which is why I was fascinated by the blatant statement they didn’t break any. Will be interesting to see how this plays out.

      • Reply December 9, 2012

        Lucy

        Wendy, what has been said is that Aus-stereo protocol does not bother to seek the consent of hoaxed people who are not in Australia.
        The direction from Management thus was that the DJs did not need the consent of the nurses in England.
        You may have noticed that in his interview the Aus-stereo spokesman was unwilling to discuss station guidelines but said they differed from case to case and place to place.

  • Reply December 8, 2012

    adgray

    LORDY LORDY LORDY
    Settle!
    This issue has a few blunders in it!
    1/ it was a live prank call that should have been revealed at the end but wasn’t and should have been screened before air but wasnt. (Wendy explained that clearly)ld she have sighed like that?
    and when I listened to the call the second nurse sighed as if “Another” person had requested the same information – if it was the Queen wou
    2/ the privacy protocol of the hospital was lapse (for whatever reason – if you answer a work call you take on the role of security of information! If that requires training so be it!) – EVERY Patient deserves that level of security!
    However as there was a patient of note there is a responsibiluity of note that required both hospital and palace security should have ensured the safety of the future queen!
    Ok take away the high profile part – is it common for nurses to just let out information about a patient to just anyone over the phone in England? Cos it isn’t here.
    3/ none of us knew what the nurse was thinking. Her name does not look typically brittish I wonder if she was a migrant who feared torture for such a breech of protocol?
    4/ it is WRONG to blame another for the actions of anyone! We are responsible FOR Only Ourselves and TO anyone else!
    If it was suicide (and it could have been anything!) If it wasn’t suicide then what are we doing to the DJs?
    NO ONE Bullied that woman to death outside of her home (NO I am NOT saying her husband/child killed her!)
    The DJs cannot be held responsible for her death be that from natural causes, some one elses hand or her own! Or else we need to hold all media responsible for everything that happens – people going out and killing “like they saw in the movies”, other people watching the news and committing suicide cos it looks so hopeless, o we forget so easily Orson Well’s “War of the Worlds” radio show in the 1930s that had the population completely convinced aliens had landed?
    What about those who have died laughing at something so funny? (and before you say “bull” my friend did)
    We cannot hold people accountable for someone else’s suicide – murder or manslaughter yes but never suicide!
    and definately not 2 people on one side of the world for the manslaughter/murder of someone on the other!
    To argue such absurdity is immature!

    • Reply December 8, 2012

      Lucy

      Of course we can hold a person responsible for someone else’s suicide.

      What about those who have suicided because of abuse by pedophiles?
      What about teenagers who have suicided because of cyber bullying by classmates?
      What about the employee in a cafe who suicided because of the bullying by her employer and other waiters?
      In each of these cases the bullies have been held to be responsible in courts of law.

      Now, if at 5:30 am you are nurse on general duty, you pick up a ‘phone and the caller says that she is the Queen and wishes to be put through to her granddaughter-in-law. You either transfer the call to the Ward for the Ward Sister to deal with or you hang up on what may well be the Queen. You are in a lose-lose situation.
      You then find that you have been made a laughing-stock world wide.
      Who knows what then goes through this conscientious nurse’s mind?

      What right did a couple of DJs, purveyors of trash to the juvenile-minded, have to put another human being in such a position?

      • Reply December 8, 2012

        Andrew

        seriously lucy, you want to equate this suicide to victims of crime or face to face workplace bullying, you have a serious problem if you believe they are the same. They didnt forced her to do anything they asked for something politely and were given what they asked for, that is hardly bullying. Also in all the things you mention the person commiting the crime knows very well he is causing harm to the victim. Can you honestly look someone in the eye and say that when you heard of the prank, your first thought was, gee I hope the nurse doesnt hurt herself. Not one person would have expected this type of reaction.

        • Reply December 9, 2012

          Lucy

          Yes. When I heard of this prank my first thought was of the damage that this would do to the two nurses involved.
          It was clear from the first reports that the hoaxers had not got through to Kate Middleton, so there was no harm done there.

          As to the nurses, both of them had been put into an impossible position. If the caller really was the Queen they would be in trouble if they hung up. If it wasn’t, they were in trouble for proceeding with the call.
          My second thought was that, like so many nurses here, English may not be their first language and the phoney accents may not have alerted them that the callers were impostors.

    • Reply December 9, 2012

      Amanda W

      I agree with the points you have made – very well said.

      It doesn’t matter if it was the Queen – which I seriously doubt she would have rung – the Palace Security should have been contacted to verify that the Queen was in fact on the phone.

      Either way it doesn’t explain why one of the two nurses involved killed herself….

  • Reply December 8, 2012

    Janet G

    But why was such a big deal made out of it? Perhaps that is what effected the poor woman, the fact that the hospital, the media and maybe the Family made it so shocking. For heavens sake, have some perspective. The call was just a silly nuisance. It was the reaction that was disproportionate.

    • Reply December 8, 2012

      Lizzie

      Regardless of how big a deal anyone thinks the prank is, the radio station, should have gained the nurse’s permission to play the recording on the radio. They obviously didn’t seek the nurse’s permission.

    • Reply December 9, 2012

      Lucy

      You go to your local GP who records details of your health.
      Your next door neighbour is worried that you are not looking too well lately so she very kindly, in a good spirit, rings your GP and asks the receptionist, “How is Joe Bloggs, my neighbour? Should I be helping him in some way?” and the Receptionist replies with, “Well, the Dr has prescribed medication because he may be a border line schizophrenic and paranoid delusional. We are waiting for further tests.”
      Would you expect the Receptionist to be fired?
      Would you think it likely that this Receptionist would find it easy to get another job?

      Now the nurses at the King Edward VII Hospital may well have been afraid that they would lose their jobs and not be re-employable with a case so widely publicised. That fear may have been intolerable.

  • Reply December 8, 2012

    Bob

    It’s an utter tragedy that this poor woman has died. I am sure the DJ’s never imagined in their wildest dreams that this could happen. I heard the prank call and thought it was amusing, more so for the fact their dreadful accents worked.

    But if as Wendy says, they normally get permission under the radio codes of practice, then they erred her in not getting it and let’s face it, there’s no way the nurses would have given permission.

    I feel so much sadness for the nurse’s family, but also sadness for the DJ’s who will have to live with this their whole life.

  • Reply December 8, 2012

    Dora

    Wendy has highlighted the need to remember protocols in her field regarding asking permision before publicising something potentialy humiliating or of a nature that might sabotage their livelyhood she has clearly stated that the radio personalities did not follow these protocols. I see no evidence of blame shifting. Rob you are a bully and an embarrassment for even thinking of putting a rubber chicken in a patent.

  • Reply December 8, 2012

    lucille

    The call was moronic, and those who listen to these dickwads would struggle to reach an IQ above 50. I remember some time ago a radio station had a competition to see who could drink the most water. The winner died. There must be a law in Britain protecting medical information, given or received without permission. I hope there is and these idiots will be charged. Hopefully ACMA will grow some balls and act also. As for the royal couple – WHY did they announce to the press their intention to book into the hospital? They make me sick, and it’s time people reflected on history and saw how they assumed “royalty”, and they (royalty) should start giving back the properties they stole, and recompense those plundered and murdered. Their heritage is hardly bloodless.

  • Reply December 8, 2012

    Babs

    Someone needs to rein these dj’s in. It’s unconscionable what they did but when u see that Sandilands can get away with saying absolutely anything he pleases on air u can see why this has happened. The lunatics have taken charge of the asylum.

  • Reply December 8, 2012

    Pj

    Wow what an over reaction no body made this lady kill herself – perhaps attention should be paid to what was going in in this ladies life prior to the phone call. Leave the radio jocks alone

  • Reply December 8, 2012

    Veuve

    Lucille the royals did not announce they were BOOKINg in. They announced the Duchess had been admitted to hospital after being driven there by a worried Prince William. Tthey had to cancel all her prior engagements the pregnancy had to be announced eventually. This is a series of unfortunate events from which the media industry and hospitals will take lessons.

  • Reply December 8, 2012

    Greg

    Hmm how to describe this article? Well first Wendy congrats for mentioning the ACMA code of practice. That at least is a decent start as well as your probably much belated apology for partaking in such stunts . However from that point on the justification for this vile act descend into the absurd. Even here in Australia we cannot claim to have ignored the the the impact of the phone hacking, bribery and crimminal acts revelations of NI and other media companies and the long running Levenson Commission in the UK.
    These pair of giggling morons breached privacy and security of an individual (royal or not is immaterial) no doubt with the full backing and pre planning of their station managers and legal officers. With no other aim in mind than to boost their ratings and the station’s income. Now why should this be treated any differently to the crimminal act of phone hacking or gaining money by deception. The blame for this tradegy and gross breach resides wholey and soley with 2day FM and their miserable employees. Waving it off to the hospital is in my opinion a callous and pathetic attempt at blame shifting and misdirection.

    • Reply December 8, 2012

      LB

      Well said Greg

  • Reply December 8, 2012

    Checkmate

    I am an information security specialist. I note the claim by Southern Cross Austereo management that no law has been broken. It will be very interesting to see how this plays out because UK privacy laws are far more robust than our relatively weak privacy laws in Australia. Identity theft to access medical information about a patient is a very serious matter in the UK.

  • Reply December 8, 2012

    lucille

    Oh Veuve, don’t be so naive. There was a media pack there when they arrived.

  • Reply December 8, 2012

    Benison O'Reilly

    They broke more than broadcasting rules – it’s an appalling invasion of the Duchess of Cambridge’s privacy, as it would be of any individual’s privacy. A person’s medical record is confidential and to reveal it knowingly would be a strike-off offence for a medical professional .

    OK, they didn’t know they would get that far, but they didn’t pull the plug when they did. A few ethics lessons clearly wouldn’t go astray.

    Sad story all round.

    • Reply December 8, 2012

      Wendy Harmer

      I agree Benison. I have not canvassed all the issues here – in no way am I comparing the ringing of a hospital with a hotel reception desk, nor condoning the call.
      In fact I am lamenting the lack of security around the Duchess as a patient when it seems to be in evidence for ,say, Beyonce in town for a tour.
      Professional staff were left out on a limb, defenceless.
      One would have hoped the Palace had assigned a crack security detail for the Duke and Duchess.
      Sheer idiocy cannot be legislated against, unfortunately.
      In all my years on radio, I cannot recall ever ringing a hospital and attempting to dupe staff into revealing private medical information.

  • Reply December 8, 2012

    Dora

    The recent publication of a photo of a person about to be hit by a train, being published for profit. Profit from somebody elses mysery. Moronic frat house radio pranks gone too far. Ethics Grace Compassion and Humanity have become more elusive Recently. Hoping to hear about something more uplifting to restore my faith in Human kind.

  • Reply December 8, 2012

    Kristina

    Fact! If this prank didn’t occur on Tuesday, nurse Jacintha would still be alive, the world wouldn’t have a clue who she was, and in 17 days time she probably would’ve either spent Christmas day with her husband and children watching them open their Christmas presents or be helping to save lives at the hospital working a public holiday. THIS IS THE REALITY OF WHAT THE PRANK HAS CAUSED! REGARDLESS OF LAW BREAKING OR NOT! SOMEONE TAKE OWNERSHIP!! JACINTHA SALDANHA WOULD BE ALIVE TODAY!!!

    • Reply December 8, 2012

      Andrew

      You dont know that jacinta, if she was so unstable that this put her over the edge, how do you know something wouldnt have happen in the next 17 days that would have done the same. Its obvious she was suffering some sort of depression, who knows what would have happen if the phone call didnt happen.

      • Reply December 8, 2012

        Andrew

        sorry Kristina

      • Reply December 9, 2012

        samantha

        Why assume that the deceased nurse was mentally unstable? In this time of being sensitive to all cultures, we should be aware that humiliation takes all forms, and that in some ethnic backgrounds losing face for one’s self or one’s family can only be expunged by suicide. We saw it in World War 2 and we see it today in the form of honour killings.

      • Reply December 9, 2012

        Lucy

        Andrew. It looks like Jeff Kennett and others think that Mel Grieg and Christian are not normal (by your definition) and that these DJs are unstable, for Kennett et al say, “The Sydney radio presenters behind the prank call that has been linked to a British nurse’s death are said to be “fragile” and undergoing intensive psychological counselling.”

        Now just having the world regard what you have done as deplorable is surely not enough to push “normal” people over the edge! There must be a “back story” for Grieg and Christian since Kennett seems to be on suicide watch for them., don’t you think?

    • Reply December 10, 2012

      Gaye

      Well said Kristina. The plain and simple truth. You can cover it up this way and that, but when you boil it all down, if that phone call had not been made, a prank phone call, Mrs. Saldanha would be either spending Christmas Day with her family or working at the hospital. Pure and simple fact. Cut the bullshit!

  • Reply December 8, 2012

    Louise Gleeson

    Adding agreement to a few other commenters, the huge mistake here is that they prank called a HOSPITAL. That is so disgraceful. They were seeking private medical information about a patient. That is not all funny. What is also so frustrating is the way these pranks never consider what impact their actions will have on others. A woman has died and I also wonder how any of the people caught up in other “pranks” are managing now? I’m thinking here of the welfare of that 14 year old Kyle Sandilands grilled about her sex life or the journalist he attacked. I wonder how they are getting on?

  • Reply December 8, 2012

    mj

    Clearly our obsession with the famous is reaching ridiculous extremes. This is not the first time a tragedy has occurred because the media can’t leave the Royals alone. They should at least be allowed to go to hospital in peace. It was only morning sickness, for god’s sake! If radio stations want to entertain (boost ratings) then they shouldn’t rely on cheap tricks, that somehow manage to slip past the producer and onto the airwaves. (Where was the producer, by the way?) Just because it’s been done since the year dot doesn’t mean that it always results in quality entertainment. What it actually means is that it’s about time we had something new to listen to.

  • Reply December 8, 2012

    rod

    1. Wendy excellent article, intelligent perspective, and above all clear analysis that whilst these prank calls are largely stupid and embarrassing the absolute bottom line is that if full permission and consent is gained from the victim (ie they are happy to have a laugh and let it be aired) then it’s ok. Whether it’s funny is then an irrelevant debate since the victim is the one happy to laugh about it. Clearly this did NOT happen and clearly the poor late nurse would NOT have said yeah that’s funny put my voice on air in Aust (and ultimately worldwide) and make an even bigger fool of me.
    2. Greg you’ve missed the point. Yes the call was allegedly pre recorded and legally passed by 2DAY FM lawyers, (despite the DJ’s potentially pretending it was live) but the absolute key point here is not the clearance from the lawyers but the vitally missing clearance from the victim themselves and now tragically late nurse.
    3. Rob I spent 7 months in hospital sitting by my brother who suffered terribly and ended up losing his battle from cancer and I was in awe of the hospital staff, the insane hours they work for little pay, and their incredible loyalty and compassion. That said I do believe you are being emotionally way too harsh on Wendy for her comment of the hospitals apparent lack of security in taking the call. Rob we are talking about the very ward containing the future Queen of England so it’s hardly a stretch for Wendy to quite rightly suggest it’s pretty surprising the average village idiot could get through. Wendy is no way criticising you or any of the world’s wonderful hospital staff, she is merely pointing out that’s it surprising such a call to such an incredibly famous person’s nurse could have got through at all.
    4. Greed and fame go hand in hand. Had the 2DAY FM station management said crikey that call has ended up with a very different result, ie you actually got through and obtained very private information, we can no longer run this piece on air, along with a call to the hospital to apologise and ensure the nurse knows it’s going nowhere, then it’s more than likely end of story. But the absolute failure by management to do so is where the blame lies, not with the now scapegoat DJ’s.

    • Reply December 8, 2012

      Wendy Harmer

      Thank you so much Rod… you understand every point I have made perfectly.

  • Reply December 8, 2012

    Kathy

    We sadly live in a world where humiliation of other human beings is done for our entertainment. I can’t bear to watch early episodes of certain talent shows, where apparently it is great fun & sport for the audience to laugh at the not so talented. These “prank” calls are just another example. This woman was humiliated & vilified world wide. I guess it’s taken many of us until today to realise how that might feel. We have had a sad reality check.

  • Reply December 8, 2012

    Keith

    I’m a fan Wendy but find some parts of your article a little baffling.

    I feel you’re backpedalling on your previous comments about the prank. What exactly did you say about it? If you commented on it after only hearing a portion of a clip that goes for only 2 minutes and 30 seconds, what does that say about your research skills?

    I doubt the nurses involved gave consent for it to be broadcast, but how are you sure of this? That is not clear.

    You prank called on radio for over eleven years (much to your chagrin), so statistically this could have just as easily happened to you.

    Do I think this prank was ill-conceived, morally dubious and worst of all, unfunny? Yes.

    Now the “bullies” have become the bullied. I have read comments from “I’m ashamed to be an Australian today” to “I hope they top themselves”. Overnight they have lost their careers and become the most hated people in Australia. I can’t imagine what’s going through their heads right now. I didn’t find anything aggressive about the call. Unless you’re a fan of comedy.

    The danger of social media is every view can be shared by two. That becomes a needle so sharp, you look at you bleed. The idea we can all have our 15 minutes and be an overnight success (or fail), is a reality.

    There are a lot of lessons to be learned from this perfect storm of events.

    • Reply December 8, 2012

      Lucy

      One of the lessons to be learnt – by broadcasters – is that the people now have a voice that is heard by the advertisers.

      Where an ACMA enquiry can take month, even years, with a resulting slap on the hand for ill-doers, social media can get advertisers to discipline radio stations where it hurts – their ratings and profits – immediately.

      All advertising pulled from Aus Stereo – Whacko!

  • Reply December 8, 2012

    Tom Allen

    Excellent article Wendy, and I look forward to hearing you again for breakfast next week.
    Such a sad situation that seems to be yet another unintended consequence of what has amounted to multi-meda bullying. Socia media already has contributed to similar tragedies but in combination with the mainstream media response to this prank, the feelings of anxiety must have been intense.
    Perhaps part of our response to this is to consider the impact of combined bullying (of all parties involved) can predictably have. GB

  • Reply December 8, 2012

    Rhoda

    I am concerned for this poor nurse’s family and hope someone is looking after them. I imagine her colleagues are in great distress also.

    I’m with Greg. I see no ethical ambiguity here. There was an appalling lack of judgement shown by 2day FM management. It was their show and they should wear the consequences.

    It’s all about the money isn’t it. People don’t count.

  • Reply December 8, 2012

    PR

    On the assumption that there is no ‘back story’ I tend to have the same reaction as most. However, there are many points about this story – the leadup, the call, the promotion and the sad outcome that do not gell. Firstly the security protocols would include – full ongoing security vetting of any staff who would be involved in patient care. This would have been done prior to pregnancy. This would have been done as part of a standard disaster plan. The switchboard staff and any staff involved in a Royal admittance for any reason would not only have been vetted but also received training and instruction on procedures and then reissued guidelines on the admittance of the wife of the next in line to the throne – even in an emergency admitting. Personal security would have been in attendance even if not obvious. Calls also would be monitored & most likely recorded and traceable in the event of incident. The story is ‘they made a call’ – Even general public to a hospital may or maynot have their call put through to a ward. Generally the advice given is minimal. To be ‘put through’ to the specific nurse who is caring for a specific patient in a major large world capital city hospital would at the very least be unusual let alone to a specific nurse who is able to provide specific and detailed account of the status of a ‘protected’ person.
    It would be interesting to know what telephone line they used and to what telephone number and if not a general number, how was the number provided to the DJ callers and possibly more revealing – Were there any other parties involved than the London yellow pages and producers setting up the call?. Clearly if the story is exactly as reported then the breakdown in security verges on incredible – given London is just out of the Games and security is one of UK strengths and given this family line and history of personal private security breakdown when moved away from the government, I would have thought that the processes in place would be the tightest and most rigorously enforced and practised with scenarios, in the world. Protocol would also be ‘no discussion of any part of the process including reactions positive or negative, blame or comment’- if there was a breakdown.
    Re the nurse – a prank call, whether dumb, contravening codes or just disrespectful and immature, only value is shock, would not in itself cause a suicide. If there is no back story, then there were most likely cummulative triggers and the prank is what has media focus and attention.

    • Reply December 8, 2012

      Lucy

      PR – lots of assumptions.

      Let’s make a few more.
      Let us assume that there is a private line, properly monitored, with a phone beside Kate Middleton’s bed.

      Googling the King Edward VII Hospital gives the phone number, 020 7486 4411.
      Let us assume that at 5:30 am, London time, you ring this number, but there is no switchboard staff on duty.
      A general nurse hears the reception desk phone ring. Possibly it will be a private call for a member of staff, so she picks up the phone. The voice at the other end claims to be Queen Elizabeth and asks to be put through to her granddaughter.
      The busy general nurse (1) passes the call on to the Ward Sister where Kate Middleton is, and goes on with her busy routine which was interrupted.
      The Ward Sister (2) answers the call in the usual way for relatives, without disturbing Kate Middleton, and continues with her busy duties.

      Now Nurse (1) is the one who has apparently suicided, and we must await the coroner’s judgement on that.
      We are assuming, at the moment, that she could not live with the blame that she was getting and the whoops of joy from the hoaxers over her humiliation, despite their hypocritical “apology”.

    • Reply December 9, 2012

      salty

      PR: You have raised some very pertinent points. Well done.

  • Reply December 8, 2012

    Annie

    I don’t listen to commercial radio. I cannot abide the drivel that passes as entertainment. I’m not an intellectual snob, I just am getting too old for all the motor mouthed ra ra. Added to that, the fact that the passing parade of ‘entertainment’ such as ringing kids and telling them they failed the HSC, and, well, ANY prank call leaves me cold.

    I heard this one on our local ABC breakfast show at about 6.30 am, when the announcer was deploring it as one of the most cringeworthy moments in Australian radio. I was horrified that this was aired. All I could think was those poor nurses. They are either going to get reprimanded for such a breach of confidentiality, or worse – sacked. Can you also imagine how it would feel, being humiliated by not just hundreds or thousands, but hundreds OF thousands as it went viral? Can you just imagine, really?

    I told my husband and work colleagues it would not end well. Not one of them thought it was funny, and they are all dedicated commercial radio listeners. Adding to my ire was the fact that they couldn’t leave it the eff alone. The radio kept playing it and playing it, as if it was the single biggest bestest joke ever. Gloating, I think is word I am reaching for.

    I am so angry and distressed over this. I was upset enough for these nurses to begin with, and now to know that two children are without a mother and a husband who will not grow old with his wife…

    And to all of the pundits rabbiting on about she must have had other things on her mind. Talk about blame the victim. Get real. It’s no excuse. Again, in the brave new ‘viral’ virtual world, with Social media providing a voice to so many, the humiliation of victims of any attention to the media is so damned amplified to be terrifying. Think of how she felt!

    I am still deeply pissed at the two announcers, however, I am concerned for their wellbeing too. I’m just having difficulty with the fact that the mainstream media hasn’t caught up with the real world power of the internet and the intense scrutiny it can bring anyone under. There are effing consequences to these seemly harmless actions nowadays. Unfortunately it seems the only way to get people to notice is by tragedy.

    Sorry, I ‘ll get of my soapbox now. Having tried to commit suicide myself in the throes of depression, my heart just breaks for people who find themselves in that dark hopeless place. At least Jacintha has found her peace.

    • Reply December 11, 2012

      June Millson

      I thoroughly agree with all who say “why blame the victim” it is a case of shifting the blame all the time. Obviously the two hoaxers did not want the nurse to suicide, but people who keep assuming she must have had other problems are making assumptions. Stop trying to blame the nurse or the hospital. The fault belongs with the radio station, and all the Royal haters who have contributed here are using this for their own agenda and ignoring the real issue. Someone always gets hurt by pranks irrespective of who they are.

  • Reply December 8, 2012

    Dora

    Good point about security was also brought up, Beyonce or Mariah would have had a stronger entourage Having Diva status. Their security is privately funded out of their own pockets. Royal security is Tax payer funded am I wrong? In Their humble way They went in to a regular hospital like regular people without too much extra backup.

  • Reply December 8, 2012

    Annie

    @pr, Oh for real!?!

    What switchboard staff? It was being staffed by nurses at that time in the morning.

    I would love to your see your reaction if you made a workplace error and were then held up to world wide ridicule.

    But, sure. Blame the victim. For sure it was all her fault she didn’t have a better sense of humour. I don’t give a flying fuck if she had ‘other things’ going on in her life. All the more goddamn sad that we didn’t protect the vulnerable.

    No one thinks about the consequences of their actions anymore. Regardless, as a previous commenter said, if this had not gone to air, Jacintha would still be here.

  • Reply December 8, 2012

    Dora

    Dear Annie, Ive had thoughts of giving up too and sucumbing I’ve suffered from nephritis for 6 years and have been on cortisole for all that time… It worked until recently when the drugs stopped being as effective and the dosage had to be raised I started to go down hill… Lost my Job…..my partner…etc. Im hanging in there as Ive started a new treatment…Also There are still people that love and depend on me so I push on. I am sooooo glad that you have made the decision to do the same, as Im sure your children, If you have any would be very grateful for that. Things get too hard sometimes but we push on for our babys

  • Reply December 8, 2012

    gogirl

    The whole episode is so, so sad all around, and will have a lasting effect on many lives.

    As tragic as it is, we really don’t know any of the details and we need to stop. Supposition can’t possibly be grounds for such condemnation.

    If the ridiculous prank call did unwittingly set the stage for all that came after, then my heart also goes out to the two DJs – but they were not alone in the ongoing hype and foolishness that followed.

  • Reply December 8, 2012

    Dora

    Not To make lite of things, but it does read like a Shakespearian or sophoclian Tragedy

  • Reply December 8, 2012

    Lena Semaan

    You really thought it was funny Wendy? Honestly? Your attempt to defend it is equally lame; the point being surely that a woman who is in the early stages of pregnancy and in the public eye is in a tough place as are those who care for her. The protocol should be to take the cue from the UK where these sorts of things are not enacted. Back in Melbourne for 3 months after 2 decades in London, I am appalled at what passes for humour, and the amateurs in the media here. Makes the dumb ones in the UK look cerebral.

  • Reply December 8, 2012

    Debbie

    And….if we all keep commenting and blaming the DJ’s WE, the public, might be to blame with 2 more suicides! Seriously folks……it’s all got totally out of hand. There are prank radio calls, prank television programs which humiliate and are made for ‘entertainment’ value. Personally I’m not a fan……but the producers would have told the DJ’s to do it……

  • [...] The well-known radio host and writer Wendy Harmer has written on The Hoopla, the website she founded, about the hoax, writing that pranks can be harmless fun ”if the [...]

  • Reply December 8, 2012

    Jay

    Station itself has said they vetted the call with lawyers to see if they would be liable for any type of prosecution. Theres a rule in Tort law the thin skull rule. It doesn’t matter if you wouldn’t be hit or you couldn’t forsee an incident. You take your victim as you find them. Wouldn’t just be the laughing stock she was made off, the bragging about it afterwards which she likely was following, but she could also feel like she betrayed a patient she had under her care. Who are we to say she should lighten up. Same way if you scared someone and they had a heart attack, the station has a lot of responsibility here.

  • Reply December 8, 2012

    Dora

    Dear Overreaction, you spelt embarresment wrong… Its embarrasment….yes I spelt lite wrong. Humiliating myself to save or spare someone else is not a worry to me. Dont care for millions

  • Reply December 8, 2012

    Neil

    The Leveson Inquiry in the UK was set up to investigate the disregard of privacy by the press. It’s been reported in the Australian press. When I heard the prank, I cringed. It was insensitive. Maybe the inquest will find no link. In any case, it was insensitive and childish, a throwback to a previous era. Makes Australia look out of step with the rest of the world and uncomfortable for those of us who now call UK home.

  • [...] which media people think they are special, and play to different rules from the rest of us appears here. Apparently this prank call may have breached the code that Australian broadcasters have to comply [...]

  • Reply December 8, 2012

    Louisa

    I’ve never listened to any of the radio stations that participate in this prank calling as I find it very boring and irrelevant. I have to agree wholeheartedly with Annie, I too am not a snob but the drivel that emanates from some of these uneducated morons is quite mind numbing. The problem is that these idiots only do things such as prank calls because it obviously attracts an audience of some description and that attracts advertising revenue.

    The radio DJ’s are obviously overpaid and this is only possible by attracting an audience that advertisers are willing to pay big money to plug their wares. Society has lost the plot and what once would have never passed for humour is bandied about constantly. Classless fools entertaining classless fools and innocent people suffer in the fallout!

  • Reply December 8, 2012

    Suzie84

    I am finding this is all blowing up a little bigger then Ben Hurr. Yes ones life has been lost far to young, but as Jeff Kennett has said we do not know all the underlying circumstances of her death.
    During my second year of uni I had suffered from a major depressive episode which left me admitted to a psychiatric hospital where I had ECT. One of my friends had lost her brother to suicide a few years before. He had snapped after seeing his girlfriend kiss another guy. Although she had firmly believed that was his breaking point at no point did she or the family blame the girlfriend. Having previously reached such depths of despair, I personally know that the tipping point can be something minor for which you turn it into something which is much bigger. It feels as though there is no hope left.
    I feel for the family of the deceased and hope that they are atleast given the respect to grieve in private.

  • [...] have read several articles on this latest awful case today. One I read was by Wendy Harmer, a woman who had personal involvement in prank calls over many years. Wendy discusses the rules [...]

  • Reply December 8, 2012

    Bh

    I don’t understand why such a fancy hospital doesn’t have overnight switchboard staff. I live in a town of 12k people and our hospital has 24 hour switchboard staff.

    That said I find prank calls abhorrent and think any 2day FM staff involved should be sacked.

    • Reply December 9, 2012

      Lucy

      Maybe the hospital does not overnight switchboard staff because it does not have an Emergency Department.

      It has 58 rooms/suites so it is not a very big hospital.

  • Reply December 8, 2012

    Gray

    “I cannot guarantee that every single call we made in those years followed ACMA guidelines as written today, but we certainly knew and understood accepted protocol”
    Oh really:
    “2Day FM has a history of shock jock prank calls. The Australian Communications and Media Authority imposed a licence condition for five years ordering 2Day FM to provide increased protection for children after a 14-year-old was attached to a lie detector test in 2009 and pressured to discuss her sex life on air.”
    http://www.channel4.com/news/kate-radio-prank-radio-disciplined-over-rape-show

    Do you want to play us for suckers???

    • Reply December 8, 2012

      Wendy Harmer

      I finished working with 2DAY FM in December 2003.

      • Reply December 9, 2012

        Gray

        Ok, sry, I didn’t know that. Good for you, Wendy.

  • Reply December 8, 2012

    Gray

    The good news is that Australia, unlike the UK, actually has privacy laws!
    http://t.co/rvAPV7V2
    The bad news is that radio jocks apparently have never heard of that.

    • Reply December 10, 2012

      Jackie

      Actually Grey,
      There is no suhj thing as a right to privacy in Australia. There are rules as to the collection and storage of personal information but we have no right to privacy. I can take photos of you and your kids at the beech and post them anywhere I want on the internet. I just cant use them to make money without your consent. I can take photos over your back fence of you swimming naked in your pool and the only law that protects you is if you tried to have me stopped under the harassment law and that would only work if I was doing it multiple times.
      Not saying it is right or wrong, just pointing out a fact that many people are not aware of. We are not the USA but people watch so many USA shows they think the same laws apply here when they don’t.

      • Reply December 10, 2012

        Gray, Germany

        Actually, Jeckie, there ARE privacy laws in Australia, like the Privacy Act of 1988, which has been ammended several times and which does cover the handling of private data by businesses like 2DAY FM / Austereo. And there are state laws regulating phone calls and prohibiting the broadcasting of recorded conversations without consent. That’s why, according to Austereo’s CEO, the radio station tried to contact the nurses five times, but to no avail (that the victims would have given consent is highly unlikely, anyway). Despite being aware that putting the record on the air was very probably illegal and also yet another violation of the ACMA, 2 DAY FM put profits and PR over any concerns. That’s the point here.

        That there still are shortcomings of privacy laws, not only in Australia but in virtually all nations, is sad and disturbing, but very much irrelevant in this discussion. The tragic case we discuss here isn’t about any pictures taken, but about unscrupulous media guys invading the medical confidentiality of a patient, with utter disregard for the consequences for the victims of their fraud. They should be held responsible for that! That would be only fair, and that would send a very clear signal that petty entertainment doesn’t justify all means. There ARE legal and ethical limits!

  • Reply December 8, 2012

    Dora

    Gray thanks for the reading material :o) ….No “gray areas” here.. Privacy laws have been violated

  • Reply December 9, 2012

    Nat

    The prank was never thought through fully. No consideration was given as to what might happen if they were successful- would the nurses lose their jobs, possibly even careers? What if they were told she had miscarried?

    The nurses involved were subject to some really hateful things by people, in the media and online. It was replayed over and over. I could see how this could get to a suicide situation pretty quickly I you aren’t as tough as old boots.

    Finally, I want to share two things: seven hours after her death was confirmed, 2 day fm was still playing and promoting the “prank call”. I don’t care if it was unattended, pre programmed machine, someone should have realized and stopped it. No excuse for that and certainly not for 7 hours. Secondly, despite saying they were sorry, the djs and radio continued to promote and replay the prank.

    2dayfm have never shown true remorse for anything they have done. As long as it rates, they don’t care. I doubt they will start caring now. They have escaped previous infringements with a whipping with a feather. Why would they think breaching any of the above rules be any different.

    I hope that was the last prank call from these djs, and hope they have happy careers, preferably not as the next Kyle and Jackie as they seem to want to be.

    • Reply December 9, 2012

      Leonie Smith

      Love this comment!

      People saying that something else must have pushed her over the edge obviously don’t have any idea, as most of us wouldn’t, how it would feel to have been subjected to the global ridicule those 2 nurses have suffered. (How is the other nurse btw!!?) We cannot put ourself in her shoes and judge.

      Radio stations shouldn’t just be bound by rules, but also by morals.

      Todays media must understand that their broadcasts can go global now, and I’m sure that’s what 2DayFM was most pleased with. The fall out after a prank where there is a victim humiliated can be so much more devastating than it might have been even in Wendy’s days on 2DayFM as a result.

      If the team had asked permission to broadcast this they would have been refused, and that is most likely why they didn’t seek permission. Someone on staff at the hospital might have even said, I’m afraid this particular nurse is not in a position to cope with the fall out…

      Everyone throwing around the “unforeseen circumstances” reference is forgetting one thing…she and the hospital were NOT asked if they would be able to cope with the fall out after the call was broadcast. They and the nurse were never given the choice. Yes it WAS unforeseen because the radio station wasn’t looking! They didn’t want to know what the consequences would be and didn’t care.

      These nurses are not pubic figures, they didn’t sign up for public scrutiny. How does any of us really know how we would cope with such exposure and shame on such a huge global scale.

      You cannot behave in media the same way as you could 5 years ago…the game has changed, what you broadcast will stay online for ever, it may have huge global exposure (be careful what you wish for).

      The internet and social media has changed everything. It’s no longer just about complaints to the radio station switchboard, everyone now has a public platform to voice their complaints and judgements and disapproval.

      Yes Wendy the rules need to be changed, and soon!

    • Reply December 9, 2012

      debs

      well said :)

    • Reply December 9, 2012

      debs

      you made very valid points well said nat

  • Reply December 9, 2012

    Sherie

    According to the ACMA they cannot broadcast the words of an identifiable person. Was she identifiable? Did she give her name? I don’t understand how they broke the rules if she wasn’t identifiable.
    I’m not agreeing with what they did, they made Australians look stupid which is exactly what I commented to them on twitter after the prank was broadcast. Most of the Hot30 show is pre-recorded, most interviews are done during the day. If the prank call was received at 5.30 am London time, that puts the call at 4.30pm Australian time. So it was pre-recorded.
    The woman was on the phone for a matter of seconds and did not give out any private information. I also don’t understand how they could actually believe the Queen was calling. It’s 5.30am, doesn’t she have people to call ahead before she gets on the phone. I don’t think I would have believed it to be the queen.
    As a mother, I also couldn’t leave my child behind due to something like this. Yes 2dayFM kept replaying the prank, they do it with all things major. But the media in the UK would have been worse.
    To blame it on these two young people, who would already feel horrible because they were the catalyst for the media scrutiny. Yes it is a terrible occurrence, but you cannot call them murders (as has been done on social media). This wasn’t bullying by the hosts. If anything it would be bullying by the Media in the UK.

    That’s my opinion anyway. Wendy, can you clear up the identifiable part of the code of conduct for me at all? Thanks. :)

    • Reply December 9, 2012

      Annie

      @ Sherie. Astonishing. Let me summarise your comment to see if I have the gist of what you’re saying.

      Because the person didn’t state her name, she was not identifiable. Therefore, it’s ok to broadcast her part. (Yes, like it was so hard for her to be identified after the “prank” was aired. Real hard)

      It has made Australia look stupid. (Oh yes let’s not worry about the fact that a woman has taken her own life and this radio station didn’t give a tinker’s cuss if the two nurses lost their jobs over it when they first aired it, and then kept revelling in it as they played snippets of it ad nauseum and bragged about it on Twitter)

      You wouldn’t have been caught out by this prank. (Oh bravo! Ergo the nurses were stupid.)

      You wouldn’t commit suicide because you love your child/children too much. (Again, goddamn effing bravo. Ergo, Jacintha was weak and didn’t love her children enough to stick around.)

      2dayfm kept playing it over and over, but I bet the UK media were worse! (And that just makes the radio stations continual rehashing of the world’s most pathetic “prank” just fine)

      Don’t blame these two young people. They must be feeling badly enough. They’re innocent! (Well on that point I can finally agree – somewhat… They are not murderers. They should be treated with compassion. But they are not blamless. They are not innocent. I lay the blame for this shocker at the feet of the management who didn’t care about the downstream effects this could have on all those concerned. All they could see was the controversy and the publicity.)

      Did I sum it up ok?

      What I get from your comments is that I hope to high hell you do not deal with people in crisis situations. Ever.

      It burns me when people sit in judgement over those who have committed suicide. I don’t.

      For your information, Sherie, it was precisely my extreme love of my children and husband that drove me to attempt suicide twice. I couldn’t bear to loose them and wanted to die first, as anything happening to them was terrifying. also I felt like the world’s worst mother and wife.

      Stop thinking that suicidal people have normal thought processes. You bloody don’t!!! Everything is magnified. Everything is so distorted. All you can think about is how much better the world would be WITHOUT YOU.

      So yes, you are entitled to your opinion. Common ground at last.

  • Reply December 9, 2012

    Amanda W

    Thank you for providing the information Wendy – I only saw some brief information about this situation and didn’t really know what had taken place until I read your article.
    My interpretation is that the radio station were trying to make a point about being able to get information from the hospital about Kate Middleton.
    Realistically, whether it was a prank call or not, that information should not have been given out for privacy reasons. If you were in hospital and someone phoned up claiming to be a relative would you want your information given out – they usually ask a series of questions or simply don’t give out the information. I would be pretty sure that for Kate Middleton the information (for some reason) would be even more protected and would NEVER be given out.
    The two DJ’s thought they were doing something funny and realistically they proved they could get through to the hospital and get information without much trouble – it’s tragic that the nurse killed herself and we don’t know what else was going through her mind. Perhaps when she realised she did the wrong thing she thought she was going to be sacked and decided to kill herself instead. Pretty drastic measure but it’s something I don’t think we’ll ever be able to find out.

  • Reply December 9, 2012

    Ms Behavin

    I think it’s pretty obvious that the nurse thought it really was the Queen and that she would therefore not question her on what seemed a reasonable request (If she was from a different cultural background the accents may not have been obvious to her). Because who would predict that anybody would intrude on the intimate healthcare details of an ill pregnant woman? The problem is that the media now turn desperately to anything they can think of to get attention. So what used to seem insane is now considered a potential ratings winner.

  • Reply December 9, 2012

    Marcus Seabrook

    Since the derogatory Alan Jones v PM affair, I have followed tweats, read columns, and signed petitions. However, I am constantly amazed at how Sidney-centric these events are… I can only say that I am pleased I could not be further from such a city.

    I remember you from many years ago Wendy, and I consider you a worthwhile and clever comic. I must question your incredulity that these young idiots managed to get through to the hospital caring for the “future Queen”. Has no Sidney-centric asked themselves why the English did not perpetrate such a disgusting act? The answer is simple… they would not do such a thing. Even naughty Rupert’s press.

    Knowledgeable people would realise that the hospital is not a fortress, and the Registered Nurses are not primarily thinking of vetting calls from immature youth. They are involved with patient care and are tightly constrained by legislation and punitive measures.

    If these two gen Y paragons of the crass are capable of such an act (created by their team or not) did not have the maturity to question such a travesty, they should try making pizzas for a living, and let the rest of us enjoy what this country should really be.

  • Reply December 9, 2012

    caz

    Totally agree with you Nat. They showed no remorse during the week. Being sorry for “any inconvenience” your actions may have caused is not the same as apologising for your actions. When I first heard about the prank my reaction was that the poor nurses would be suffering repercussions while these fools would be relishing the publicity. I’ve just read that ACMA has referred all complaints back to 2DayFM as they can’t act until a complainant is unsatisfied with how their complaint had been handled by the radio station. I don’t listen to commercial radio, but I remember hearing one of these prank calls whilst catching a taxi where the dj called a number on a lost dog poster and told the elderly woman who answered that he’d killed her dog. The woman understandably became distressed and after a few minutes of taunting he revealed she was on live radio and she promptly swore at him and hung up. I reckon there’s a good story in tracking down people who’ve been victims of these stunts to see how they fared afterward. I wouldn’t be surprised to find more suicides. And to those that are saying that Jacinta may have been fragile before the prank and the presenters weren’t to know, well that’s exactly why you don’t subject a complete stranger to international humiliation. As always this will all blow over eventually and those presenters will be back on air after being scolded by ACMA. Hosts on commercial radio tend to be immature narcissists that never grew out of being class clown and perhaps their lack of empathy for these nurses stems from the fact that they are so desperate for attention of any kind they can’t understand the concept of humiliation.

  • Reply December 9, 2012

    Jon

    There are a few issues that we’re missing here – yes, it was (as one reader put it) “the low point of comedy”, but;

    1. Was it suicide ? There’s been no ruling yet either way, it’s only British media outlets that are calling it suicide. Could have been natural causes. Let’s keep an open mind until an official verdict is rendered.

    2. Have the broadcasters broken any LAWS ? Not guidelines, not doing something stupid, but breaking LAWS ? I’m asking here…

    3. This sort of thing has ALWAYS been a part of media, not only in Australia but the USA especially. It’s like April Fool’s – should we ban that as well ?

    Do we want to turn all radio stations into versions of what the ABC/BBC used to be – all straight laced and no comedy whatsoever ?

    Look, I agree that Mel and Michael did something really DUMB, but I don’t believe there was any ill intent and to condemn them for that means condemning ALL media or others who play “pranks” on people (look at the TV show PRANK PATROL sometime – let’s ban that too !!).

    • Reply December 9, 2012

      Gray

      Jon, Australia DOES have a privacy law and it IS illegal to obtain confidential health information “by unlawful or unfair means”:
      http://t.co/rvAPV7V2

      Also, there are legal limits to evesdropping and especially to boradcasting recorded calls:
      http://investigateway.com.au/resources/bugging.html

      So, what do we have here? Violation of the ACMA guidelines, violation of the Privacy Act, and probable violation of the relevant state law about evesdropping. Good enough for you, or are you more like the alleged legal advicer of 2DAY FM, who apparently must have thought: “As long as there is a tiny chance to get away with it, it’s ok.”?

  • Reply December 9, 2012

    Leamac

    MJ “It was only morning sickness.” You are wrong MJ, Kate apparently has hyperemesis gravidarum, a rare but serious condition in pregnancy where the patient vomits continually and can become severely dehydrated and she may die. Modern treatments mean that deaths are now rare but it certainly warrants hospital care, monitoring and treatment.

    • Reply December 9, 2012

      anne louise

      And her baby.

  • Reply December 9, 2012

    Miss T

    At the end of the day as a society why are we so accepting of broadcasted prank calls anyway. Why is it considered permissible and entertaining to be a public nuisance and harass someone. Whatever happened to that old chestnut – treat others as you would like tobe treated yourself? What example are we setting to our children? Will this incident spawn a number of copycat incidents, albeit on a smaller scale. Quite obviously 2DAY FM learnt nothing from the Kyle Sandilands debacle or perhaps chose to ignore its lessons. I am surprised that any shock jock would be allowed on air without appropriate knowledge of their duties and obligations under the ACMA Commercial Code Of Practice. Or do they consider themselves above the law. Obviously the whole chain of command in this incident should take responsibility for each small part they played in this tragedy. A classic example of “groupthink” gone wrong. Would an individual acting alone have gone this far? I think not.

  • Reply December 9, 2012

    Malcolm T Elliott

    I rated number 2 in Sydney Radio Breakfast from 1972 until 1976 behind 2UE, and NEVER once did I do a prank call. I remember bumping into the Chief from Get Smart at the Cauldron Steak House and arranging to call him before he left for the airport, but NEVER unsolicited stunts. If you can’t entertain without them – GET OFF THE STAGE

    • Reply December 9, 2012

      Wendy Harmer

      Thanks for your input, Malcolm. Interesting to hear the perspective of a very successful and much-loved broadcaster.

  • Reply December 9, 2012

    Jo Hofmann

    A stupid prank call composed of identity theft and invasion of privacy. I find it difficult to understand why people still try to defend the presenters and the radio station.

    Aussie ‘larricanism’ has an underbelly, it always has. A line was crossed, regardless of how this poor woman reacted…at the very least she could have lost her job, which would have been tragic enough. Why continue past the point they understood they had duped someone into a breach of their job requirements? Unfortunately, Grieg and Christian do need to be dismissed, so that a message is sent loud and clear. It’s the responsible thing to do, and the very least 2day can do.

    I certainly hope there is some recourse for the family, but somehow I doubt it. Just so tragic: Let Greig and Christian work their way back to public positions…maybe they won’t resort to online bullying (which is what this actually was) for entertainment purposes again. It’s beyond me why people feel a joke needs to run entirely at someone else’s expense.

  • Reply December 9, 2012

    Clifford Hemple

    I think we’ve established that most “radio personalities” are not selected for their intelligence. That Sandilands clown for example. Are we surprised that some can’t follow the rules?

  • Reply December 9, 2012

    anne louise

    Perhaps less money should go towards big businesses which made enormous money out of the health care system. It should directed instead into the basics such as reception staff, staff training, and protocol implementation.

    That being said, having a “joke” at someone else’s expense is primitive. Organisations which resort to such behaviour should be penalized. Self regulation is not sufficient. We see here how insufficient it is.

  • Reply December 9, 2012

    rod

    Wendy thanks for your reply yesterday. It seems us Manly supporters might be the only ones making clear sense.

    Speaking of which I’d be interested to see what you make of Peter Fitz’s article in the SMH titled “Tragedy, but who’s at fault?” http://www.smh.com.au/opinion/society-and-culture/a-tragedy-but-who-is-at-fault-20121208-2b29q.html

    I usually agree with Peter on most topics, and yes he makes three fairly reasonable comments that a. how could the DJ’s or in fact anyone have known what would so unexpectedly transpire (obviously true but beside the point); b. that prank calls have been made a million times the world over (sure but it doesn’t change their cringe worthy idiocy); c. the bizarre nature of kneeling as it were before anything to do with royalty (yes it is a curiously odd thing in this world but it doesn’t mean the poor nurse could have or even should have somehow turned into a person bold enough to shrug off what was clearly a weight on her conscience so heavy that she tragically saw no other way out).

    For someone normally so razor sharp as Peter I’m amazed he’s missed the key answer to the very question he posed in his headline. Regardless of whether you think prank calls are funny or not, or are commonplace on radio, or your general thoughts on royalty, or how unlucky or unlikely the outcome was, it all comes back to this.

    The late nurse’s permission to air the piece was not obtained. Not only is this a blatant breach of pretty much everything, but as others such as Will Anderson have agreed, equally astonishing to have escaped the “not a good idea to run this” decision that so clearly should have been made by 2DAY FM management.

    As for those suggesting it cannot be certain if the nurse’s death is directly related to this incident and may in fact be for other reasons, let’s just agree that in the light of what we are hearing about this quiet hard working nurse and mother, it would be monumentally co-incidental.

    Had either of two things happened, the nurse’s permission was obtained, or management had the maturity to realise unprotected legal risks are NEVER taken, this would simply never have occurred.

  • Reply December 9, 2012

    lozza

    Hi Wendy. Thank you for publishing the current ACMA stuff so all can see and therefore make a more informed opinion after seeing more facts governing the industry. I am a former announcer myself.

    If I worked in a hospital and Princess Catherine had turned up (unwell, right after the announcement of a new baby!) – & Prince William had been in with her – I would probably be EXPECTING more royal family members to visit or call. Not be questioning the legitimacy of the call…. I may have had my doubts – but who am I to question THE QUEEN OR PRINCE CHARLES when the PRINCESS IS LITERALLY IN THE NEXT ROOM!

    However, if I had been asked the question of “is it ok to play this on the radio”……………. of course I would say NO.

  • Reply December 9, 2012

    Jase

    Very good article.

  • Reply December 9, 2012

    Gray

    More info on the legality of evesdropping:
    “However, in all States and Territories, even if it is permissible to record the conversation, it will usually be illegal to replay the material for publication or to publish in any other way information obtained from the recording without the consent of all the parties to the conversation. If you were a party to the conversation, there is a limited `public interest’ defence in Victoria, Western Australia, Queensland, South Australia and the Northern Territory, but its availability to the media is likely to be constrained by the usual suspicion shown by the courts to media `public interest’ claims.”
    http://investigateway.com.au/resources/bugging.html

    Well, I don’t know how Australian courts see that, but in my opinion, a radio station’s intention to provide entertainment for the audience isn’t “public interest” enough to warrant an exception from the prohibition to broadcast a recorded call. Especially if the recording side deliberately misrepresented their identity, with the intent to illegally achieve confidential health informations of a third person.

  • Reply December 9, 2012

    IF- By R Kipling

    If you can keep your head when all about you are losing theirs and blaming it on you if you can trust yourself when all men doubt you but make allowance for their doubting too if you can wait and not be tired of waiting or being lied about, dont deal in lies or being hated dont give way to hating and yet dont look too good nor talk too wise…….if you can meet with triumph and disaster and treat those two impostes just the same if you can bare to hear the truth youve spoken twisted by knaves to make a trap for fools or watch the things you gave your life to broken and stoop and build them up again with worn out tools if you can forse your heart nerve and sinew to serve their turn long after they are gone and so hold on when there is nothing in you, except the will which sais to them hold on if you can talk with crowds and keep your virtue or walk with kings nor lose the common touch if neither foes nor loving friends can hurt you if all men count with you but none too much if you can fill the unforgiving minute with 60 seconds worth of distance run yours is the earth and everything thats in it and which is more..you’ll be a man my son.

    • Reply December 9, 2012

      gogirl

      Ah, a sojourn into Kipling, and right on point. Well done.

  • Reply December 9, 2012

    debs

    Has anyone thought that the nurse in question that suicided may have felt after the call & being dressed down by the hospital management,felt she couldn’t cope with the royal family ear bashing her so the call was the straw that broke the camels back – the royal family should of had better security in the hospital for a start knowing that Kate was there–the hospital should of had security on the phones NOT NURSES – we are forgetting that the nurse’s family have to get through this, YES Prank calls are Stupid,mindless,& shouldn’t be done at all by radio DJS –Now they have to live with what happened & Im sure they feel remorse as well —well one would think they are feeling remorse …Yes the Production team on that morning should not have let the call happen, But hey they did because at the end of the day it all come’s down to the almighty $ without that & ratings there would be no radio stations & no DJS getting rich talking into GOLD mics …we only have to look at past DJS who tripped over there tongues & wore the public outcry but guess what ! they still are getting rich & still have jobs .. so think about it nothing will happen to these two who made the call …Big company’s Will threaten to pull $$ for air time But again they wont pull it because someone doesn’t get the sack …All this situation has done is sadly blame the Australian DJS, The boss’s are very quick to say NO laws where broken (slip under mat) the DJS where taken off air (another slip under mat ) a statement to air saying we are sorry ( lets slide that under the mat asap ) By next year the DJS will be back on air – $$ will still be pouring into air time for big company’s ..& yes sadly we will have something else to blog about .. What we should be doing is trying to pray for the Nurse ‘s family & using our energy there to help them …Also asking the person beside us ARE YOU OK ?

    • Reply December 9, 2012

      Gray

      Uh, debs, haven’t you read all the reports that say neither the royal family nor the hospital management, and also not Saldanha’s colleagues, blamed her in any way? Or do you think those statements are questionable? Hmm.

      Apart from that, I agree that nurses shouldn’t have to work the phone at night, that there should be stronger ethical guidelines for radio shows, and that the bosses of the network shouldn’t be allowed to escape the blame. And 100% ack that we shall think of the victims and demand that they’re taken care of!

      Btw, here’s hoping you’re ok! All the best. :)

      • Reply December 9, 2012

        debs

        Gray I am OK thanking you Merry Christmas :)

        I hope someone is held accountable for what happened weather it be the Djs or their Bosses

        As for the statements
        I didn’t think 2dayfm spoke person was very sincere – as for the others they are in shock this tragic situation has been blown way out by the media the family need to grieve & of course the hospital couldn’t blame her in light of her death ..as for the royals why should they blame her its their lack of security that should be called for some blame also ..

  • Reply December 9, 2012

    come in Dylan Thomas

    Do not go gentle into that good night Rage Rage against the dying of the light

  • Reply December 9, 2012

    Gray

    Uh, lozza, if you worked in a hospital, or in any other company that handles sensitive information, I really hope someone adviced you not to answer such questions to a person of unvalidated indentity, neither on the phone nor in person! And excuse me please, have you ever heard the term “medical confidentiality”? What do you think is its meaning?

    I guess Jacintha Saldaha took her duties really serious. And that that’s why she was so devastated about having been manipulated into breaching confidentiality. This tragedy should lead to better psychological help for medical staff so they’re not left alone when dealing with difficult situations. Their job is already hard enough.

  • Reply December 9, 2012

    June

    I cannot believe the amount of people defending this radio station and its dumb as dogs turd, narcissistic presenters! We all know what happened to the young man who couldn’t stop staring at his own reflection!
    It is clear that possibly several laws and codes have been broken here and as such, I hope that someone will sue the pants off the radio station!
    My view of prank calls is that they are designed to make a fool of and therefore humiliate the receiver and that is what some people find funny.Therefore I cannot agree with the argument that no harm was intended by the presenters. At the very least, I feel that they were hoping to make a fool of somebody, anybody when they rang the hospital and all because there was a pregnant woman at risk of loosing her baby! I can understand a male presenter being involved in this thoughtless action, but a female?
    Even before we heard about the nurse’s death, I thought the behaviour was stupid and tasteless and felt really sorry for the staff at the hospital to have to put up with this intrusion in their work place. I I was not surprised at all with the tragic outcome as this is often the outcome of so called larrikan behaviour that is actually bullying pretending to be harmless fun. It is not harmless when it at the expense of an unsuspecting individual going about their business. Fun should be a mutually understood process. It is not harmless fun when it is one way. The staff at the hospital were the victims of premeditated deception and the radio station and the presenters guilty of abuse. This behaviour ( played out in public no less) is
    unacceptable and morally reprehensible and warrants the full force of the law to bring those responsible to justice.
    We should not be seen to sweep bullying of this kind under the carpet as has been done now for years. I for one am sick and tired of it. There are no excuses.

  • Reply December 9, 2012

    June

    One more thing (I am sooooooo angry that I fear I am ranting but don’t care). I think that radio station should have a good look at who is giving them their legal advice!

  • Reply December 9, 2012

    Paul Todd

    This tragic event has certainly prompted more sage hindsight than any I can remember in recent history. If I were a comedian I doubt I could be part of a prank. Not that I would ever think someone might take their own life – but simply because I would worry someone might be sacked or embarrassed or ridiculed. But suicide? I would never think that might happen.

    With hindsight we can say they shouldn’t have made the call, and with hindsight we can see what despicable people they are for trying to do what many in the media turn themselves inside out to do everyday of their working lives i.e. get some leverage via the royals.

    However, whatever our opinion on pranks and whatever wonderful benefit hindsight brings us we should really only be asking one question – was the act a rational, sane, reasonable response to the event? And why? Well, that’s two questions.

    Comedy is dead – long live the Queen.

    • Reply December 10, 2012

      Gray

      No, that is not the question. For the victim, evidently it made sense, and that is all we need to know.

      Well, you yourself say that you wouldn’t do a prank that would put the job of the other side at risk. But that’s exactly what the “DAY presenters did. They had to expect that the nurse would lose her job, and they should have considered that this may lead to further consequences, like sucide. Now, the tragedy actuallly unfolded a bit differently, but this doesn’t excuse the pranksters! Their action very obviously put good, hardworking people at risk, and it doesn’t take hindsight to come to that judgment. Just a bit of common sense and empathy.

      • Reply December 10, 2012

        Paul Todd

        So let me get this straight Gray – according to you – suicide has to make sense?

      • Reply December 10, 2012

        Paul Todd

        If you’re still reading Gray, apologies for my last comment it was insensitive and stupid.

        I think that what I’m trying to say is that from our viewpoint over here it seems that the woman’s actions were extreme in response to the event – but I guess we don’t really know what pressure she was put under, either at work or through the various media in the UK. Not to shift the blame but the DJs over here could not have foreseen that reaction – perhaps. Then again it may also be true that if they had known – ratings would have taken precedence over giving a damn.

  • Reply December 9, 2012

    mochuck

    I think that one thing most people are not addressing is how this poor woman was treated by her colleagues and superiors in the workplace after the prank call. I am a retired registered nurse and can tell you that hospital workplaces are hotbeds of bullying and vitriol.
    I think that by the hospital calling for an investigation of 2DAYFM’s actions is deflecting away from the experience of the workplace that this woman worked in. She would have gotten a bollocking from her superiors even if she did manage to keep her job and I’m sure her colleagues gave it to her in spades as well.
    As far as I know her name wasn’t mentioned in the press before her suicide, so I think any pressure on her came from the workplace. I also acknowledge that she must’ve been in a fragile state prior to this incident for it to come to this.

  • Reply December 10, 2012

    Michael

    It’s the one and only sensible article in this whole shemozle!
    The victim never had a chance to say No!
    I am a 1st Year Journalism student and am very sad that other journalists can defend these clowns as if they were writing or reporting on a genuine story.
    Obviously these journos have totally lost their objectivity!

  • Reply December 10, 2012

    Franny

    At the end of the day…2DayFM has proven itself once again to be the lowest of the low with a terrible outcome with a prank that didn’t even come close to being what I consider funny – I hope whatever DIMWIT thought this up doesn’t get one full nights sleep again.

  • Reply December 10, 2012

    Lisa Lintern

    I really wish we’d stop speculating about that poor woman’s mental health that we know absolutely nothing about. I consider myself to be of ‘good mental health’ but if someone humiliated me in my place of profession and then amplified it around the world I’d be devastated. I’m not sure how I’d react. And I do feel for the presenters who were probably egged on by colleagues and their own personal ambition. What I wish we would turn our attention to is why we as a society are so willing to label public humiliation as a ‘joke’. That someone else’s embarrassment at being made a fool is dished out as some form of entertainment, and even worse, some form of professional ambition?

  • Reply December 10, 2012

    nickykarunarathna

    Jokes also has it limits they say. Aesop fables say – too much of jokes end up in red eyes. Jokes apart, queen( I mean that medieval name) is running in the corridors of the palace( ( I mean her house paid by tax payers) only dressed up in her panty scratching her head muttering utter filth about aussies these days I heard. Why? She is so angry. After all sending to a land down under those convicts, never to face again, other side of the globe – still troubling their family. She in facts angry with advancement of telecommunication too. That not allowing her grand daughters live in peace by this illiterate aussies. She shouts at sometime saying if they don’t want a republic kick them out forcebly and say: mind on your own business. She doesn’t want to be the head of state of this bunch of nincompoos idiots anymore. She shout out and say: if they do not want a republic at least get out of panties and – do not want you guys to hang there forever. Pretty serious stuff, isn’t it? Even ants having their own head of state, but not this bunch of morans! Let those British who were the most brutal barbarians who bequeth the all the conflicts and blood sheds in all the countries in the world with their divide and rule policy including Israel/Palestinian problem and given middle eastern religion call Christianity with Palestinian man call Jesus alias Son of God business live in their own world and belief system. They will never grow up if they can’t take a joke.

  • Reply December 10, 2012

    RobynMarie

    Do any of you actually have jobs? I mean really, calm it down a little. So if the DJ’s commit suicide as well will that be enough for you?

    • Reply December 10, 2012

      Paul Todd

      Thank you……

  • Reply December 10, 2012

    babillacat

    Good article Wendy. It seems to me that this whole thing would not have happened if the radio station had adhered to the guidelines. If the guidelines are easy to ignore, than something needs to be done about it.

  • Reply December 10, 2012

    moorie

    The segment was pre taped and then presented to the stations legal eagles, I think they should also answer a few questions as to why they let it go ahead..

  • Reply December 10, 2012

    Katie

    What a wonderfully sane and pertinent comment, Wendy.

    Acres of waffle paraded in the print media this morning turned me right off. For instance 2 Day is now claiming it “tried” to contact the hospital to get the green ight to broadcast. Sorry – not good enough.

    To be honest, I think I favour independent media regulation. Those with a self-interest rarely seem to manage it. I’ll be surprised if they get it right even now.

    But who knows? – this event is so upsetting – with its shades of Princess Di….

  • Reply December 10, 2012

    Dora

    “gogirl” Thanks for noticing my evocation of Kipling. Ghosts of the past and our collective voices of the present moment have the power for healing. I only wish that that support can always reach the ears of someone in trouble on time. Its hard to reconcile when it doesnt. For You Jacintha…Rest in peace.

  • Reply December 10, 2012

    Dora

    Jackie – Good point. Its a scary though… Maybe there was something to be said for primitive tribes folk who thought that a photo would steal their soul.

  • Reply December 10, 2012

    Margaret

    Well said Wendy.
    This sad business, it seems, is a new level of low, in attempted humour.
    In our large teaching hospital, very little information is given or discussed over the phone about any patient.
    No special training Rob… It’s called being professional.
    If we have a well know identity in the hospital, then it’s no discussion on the phone. A polite….. contact the family or advice re visitng hours.
    This poor nurse Jacintha, has been on the edge emotionally, and this prank call was all it took to push her past the point of no return.
    ‘Do unto others’ is not a bad way to live what ever your beliefs.
    I hope the pranksters and staff respoosible are getting counselled. Thier lives and careers are now determined by this fiasco.

  • Reply December 10, 2012

    Dora

    Paul Todd – off with your head ;-) you’re funny

  • Reply December 10, 2012

    MoniqueN

    I’m reminded of the Chaser prank where they dressed one of their number as Osama Bin Laden and drove a car through the security cordons surrounding President George W. Bush. Like the 2Day FM announcers the Chasers never expected to make it past the first checkpoint, but they were waved through about three before they finally called it off because they didn’t want to get right up to the hotel where Bush was staying. If the person stationed at the first checkpoint had actually checked the car, that was as far as they would have gotten. The protocol for all hospital patients no matter if you’re Joe Bloggs or the Duchess of Cambridge is that the hospital will only release information on your condition to family members. Evidently when the ward nurse picked up the phone she was of the impression that the proper security protocols had been followed and she was actually speaking to the Queen. This was the time when the announcers should have come clean… but they didn’t, and they didn’t obtain the permission from the nurses or advise them they had been recorded, so they should not have broadcast the call. If the response had been ‘Oh very funny, now get along with you hahaha!,’ they would have been fine, but when they received privileged information about the Duchess’ condition someone should have pulled the plug. No doubt given the information they had been given by the ward nurse they never would have gotten permission to air the call, (if you were Catherine would you want the whole world to know you had been up all night retching?)
    Maybe that would have been for the best.

    • Reply December 10, 2012

      anne louise

      Not even family members are privvy to details regarding a patient’s illness, unless the patient has requested same (unless there are issues with consciousness and intellect, and then only the next of kin).

  • Reply December 10, 2012

    ro.watson

    Consent is the requirement. Consent was not obtained to broadcasting this material.

  • Reply December 10, 2012

    Gail Wilkie

    There has been a lot in the media recently about the challenges that will face younger journalists (esp in print media) now that many of their older wiser and more experienced colleagues have been forced out of their jobs. I wonder if a similar thing happened in the 2Day FM tragedy. I wonder if more experienced people were part of their team, (people who knew the standardsand codes they were expected to comply with, knew when they were overstepping the mark), if something like this would have happened. And I wonder what will happen to MSM in the future if expereince and knowledge of the ins and out of the industries is seen as being expedient.

  • Reply December 10, 2012

    ro.watson

    I wonder what the restrictions are on re-publishing material where no original consent has been obtained?

  • Reply December 10, 2012

    Mr Duck

    The two DJs only bear a portion of the responsibility, and blaming them does no-one any good. What we need to do is to challenge the systems and culture at the radio station that have lead to this woman’s death. 2Day have shown over and over a callous disregard for the feelings of prank and competition ‘victims’ (making a mother of 4 disabled kids beg for Easter Show tickets???? Hooking a 14 year old up to a lie detector to ask about her sexual history????). We also need to challenge the attitudes in broader society that allow this kind of purile humiliation radio to be seen as entertainment. Let’s end this not by blaming the DJs, but by changing the structures and cultures that lead to this kind of tragedy.

  • Reply December 10, 2012

    Dora

    Mr Duck – To add to your agreeable statement. “Three strikes and your out” culture can reasonably be dispenced here as the quota of at least 3 mentioned has been more than adequately filled. Fool me once shame on you… Fool me. twice…….Influencing culture and setting a good example is the way ahead. Standing by and allowing repeat offences by the same source……wrap on the knucles to all inactive open mouthed bystanders the burden is on all of us.

  • Reply December 10, 2012

    ro.watson

    Leaving aside social media, which seems impossible, I first heard the prank call and response replayed on ABC Breakfast on Radio National. I ssume other broadcasters are relying on the good faith of their commercial colleagues(namely, obtaining consent), or that re-publishing is in the “public inteest”. More elucidation of the “public interest”. For example, road crashes where people are not dead or injured are often described as “critical” or “stable” by the hospitals which house them. Has consent been provided?

  • Reply December 10, 2012

    ro.watson

    I meant…I assume…Anyway, on the social media front~ what are the ethics of a broadcaster or press providing links to a site based on a story which has been obtained using questionable ethics. I suppose,if the re-publication is placed in that context, or is “in the public interest” for another reason….maybe O.K as perhaps, it will generate debate and discussion~ but might still be scorchingly hurtful to some. Today, here in W.A there is a lot of reportage about what a serving minister did at a party…..

  • Reply December 10, 2012

    ro.watson

    I meant ..not dead, but injured. I gather in the former case, family must be notified before an anouncement~ in the latter case, what rules apply?

  • Reply December 10, 2012

    ro.watson

    Of course, meant in the “public interest”~whatever that means today..

  • Reply December 10, 2012

    Joanne

    Prank calls are nothing more than a form of bullying and I don’t listen to radio stations that participate in this ridiculous behaviour. I have no time for that sort of crap!

  • Reply December 10, 2012

    ro.watson

    Anyway from what I heard, a woman’s voice identified herself as “Kate’s grandmother” to hospital reception~who would know? The Queen is not Kate’s grandmother….What then all this reportage about faking the Queen?.

  • Reply December 10, 2012

    ro.watson

    Am I a radio station?

  • Reply December 10, 2012

    ro.watson

    From previous posts we should get suicidal thoughts are a monster, and the impact on others ,should one commit suicide, is horrendous. Severe morning sickness is something those who have it, need good medical care and support.

  • Reply December 10, 2012

    ro.watson

    Lifeline is often busy, but hang in there.

  • Reply December 10, 2012

    Kirsten

    We are not now and it seems will not be in possession of all the facts for a while yet, however, whilst meant to be funny and a prank, this is demonstration of low intellect on the part of the Radio station, it’s management and most all the presenters. Who in their right mind thought it would be funny to hunt down the private and personal details of another human being, hospitalised due to being ill? The Royals may not be your cup of tea, but they remain human beings and deserve the right to privacy and confidentiality regards their medical conditions and care. The issues about the nurses and others at the hospital making a mistake in allowing the call through, the potential breaking of that cardinal rule of protecting the patient’s details will be, no doubt the subject of investigation. What cannot be ignored is the trashy nasty approach to humour many radio presenters use. Humiliation of another human being to make yourself look funny is beyond reproach. These radio stations are banned in our home, we purposefully do not use products endorsed by these ‘celebrities’ and from here on in – any show Radio ro Tv which uses one of these presenters ( not just the two idiots in this prank) will not be viewed. We need to make s stand and not view this rubbish – the ratings will make the stations bosses pay attention – nothing else matters to them.

  • Reply December 10, 2012

    Suz

    Duchess was eight weeks preggers. Rushed in. Would never have told family let alone world given the choice. What part of ringing to find out more about a woman who could lose her baby is remotely amusing?

  • Reply December 10, 2012

    ro.watson

    Kirsten~ agree. I do not listen to commercial radio. I just got to hear about references via this site and ABC radio. What I meant in parodying Prince Charles ~ “I am a radio station” is dreadfully hard to explain….just that I listen to local and R.N ABC daily. Whilst listening to ABC colours my world~ it is not my whole world of colour…..and I for one regret anyone feeling or being responsible for another’s suicide. These are fine distinctions that must be left up to the Coroner’s Court for the time being…

  • Reply December 11, 2012

    anne louise

    Apart from the other issues and influences involved in this debacle, the radio station management and the personalities in particular are now keen to impress on us the fact the incident was legally checked. I think it’s about time all organisations were expected to morally check every move they make.

  • Reply December 11, 2012

    Richard

    Only a sociopath would prank call a hospital. These two should be ashamed of themselves. Anyone defending them should feel ashamed of themselves. The radio station should lose it’s licence, the management of the radio station, along with the two DJs and the legal team should be arrested and charged with offences relating to the telecommunications interception act.
    Then the government needs to step in and ban prank calls completely. There is no reason to do them and they are always malicious. That’s the point of prank calls.

  • Reply December 11, 2012

    Dora

    I would like to think that laws were designed to provide backup for good morals social ethics and egaliterianism and whats legal and moral should be one in the same. Sooo naive and Idealistic.

  • Reply December 11, 2012

    STOP THE BLAME GAME

    [...] Radio Prank Calls: The Rules [...]

  • Reply December 11, 2012

    Marnie

    I believe Australia is slowly but surely being controlled by the faceless men . Prank calls are part and parcel of most western free societies. We may as well lock up Barman all over the world as they are serving up substances to potentially addle the human mind into extreme actions. Why wasn’t this nurse working the
    floor and not the phones? and who is the other Nurse? How potentially traumatised to extreme action is she ? There are just too many unasked questions in this universally sad situation !

  • Reply December 11, 2012

    jojogirl

    How over governed and policed is this society going to become,,, when do we become responsible for our own actions and why did we ever stop being responsible for them? Where has our sense of fun gone, our sense of humour?
    How dare we put the death of this woman on the shoulders of these two young people,,, how dare we.
    The staff at the hospital obviously need to have training in regard to protocol in this type of situation, and if the hospital has not got protocol in place WHY NOT.
    To now try and place blame over the tragic death of this woman is ludicrous, to take ones life over something like this shows that she was suffering from an existing mental issue, and this event has pushed her over. This woman made a choice to end her life, her choice, why is it that we have to deflect blame onto someone else all the time, why are we becoming a society that can not look at oneself anymore and shoulder our own actions.
    I hope to goodness that we dont ever lose our sense of fun, and the ability to laugh at ourselves, but the way it is going in the world today, it looks like we are losing that to people with thin skin and no resilience.
    YES the hospital needs to put in place protocol but if the nurse didnt use it,,,it was her choice not to use it,,,,, as it was her choice to end her life.

  • Reply December 11, 2012

    Get Real

    Gray’s comments warrant consideration on the legality of evesdropping:
    “However, in all States and Territories, even if it is permissible to record the conversation, it will usually be illegal to replay the material for publication or to publish in any other way information obtained from the recording without the consent of all the parties to the conversation. ”

    There’s a reason for such laws. “Publication” and “publish”(ing) probably need to be redefined in terms of the far reaching potential of the internet and social media in general today. Despite all the realityshow hype, most people wouldn’t want to be automatically turned into global celebrities, novelties or buffoons. Fewer would be willing to submit to surveillance as a matter of everyday life. Personal privacy is surely a human right.

  • Reply December 11, 2012

    Johnny

    Wow! Gee the ripples are spreading so widely. This is a terribly unfortunate outcome which could never have been imagined. Aus-Stereo or whatever its name should just say. OMG we have totallty f….d up. TOTALLY !!. Show contrition, get off the air, and that will get rid of Sandilands too, fall on its sword with a modicum (as thats all it has left) of Grace, give the family a million quid to help them rebuild their lives and hope to hell something like this never happens to anyone again, anywhere.

  • Reply December 11, 2012

    ro.watson

    As I understand it, there has been a fund set up for Jaccinta’s family~put your money where your mouth is?

  • Reply December 11, 2012

    ro.watson

    Sorry for another spelling error~but my sentiment remains. Anyway~ just a suggestion~ may we shoulder our own discernment and goodness, and where we can help out~ give back. Happy christmas even as I am baulking at said event.

  • Reply December 11, 2012

    Responsibility

    it’s aweful what happened of course, but why is everyone blaming the DJ’s while the hospital has no protocols in place for a royal family member? Fair go.

  • Reply December 12, 2012

    Belinda

    There’s nothing funny about this call and frankly the two DJs should be ashamed. Poor taste at best, but lacking in class and etiquette definitely. I enjoy FUNNY prank calls and don’t know anyone who doesn’t but phoning to sneakily find out information is disgusting.

  • Reply December 12, 2012

    ameli

    Questions need to be asked about why this nurse felt it necessary to commit suicide. Why did she feel so badly about what in any other setting would be seen as a small mistake. The royals have right to have their privacy respected just like anyone else but the hysteria around this issue was ridiculous. These young people made a mistake, that is all. They could not have known that this poor woman would die as a result. They should not be made to pay with their futures for a prank. Investigations might find that the woman had other issues, who knows, I don’t and neither do you.

  • Reply December 12, 2012

    MS

    Playing pranks have been on air many a times it was about time when ignorant and dumb a## reporters see the outcome of a ‘playful prank’ go out of hand. Every idiot with a microphone thinks he is the best? Also crocodile tears or hugging the families will not bring back the dead.

  • Reply December 12, 2012

    Marion Ivanic

    Some of the comments I have read concerning these two young radio people, have been far more vicious in their intent than anything these journalists have done or intended. There is so much hate and cynicism out there about so many things it bewilders me. Also, no-one commits suicide because of one incident and I am sure there would have been more to it than that, much more.

  • Reply December 13, 2012

    Gray

    New development: Australian law prof says the radio station DID violate the law!
    http://news.nationalpost.com/2012/12/11/royal-prank-call-may-have-been-illegal-experts-say-as-radio-station-donates-500000-to-nurses-family/

  • Reply December 13, 2012

    Gray

    Btw, just found another interesting point, if an Australian prosecutor should EVER find an interest in investigating the radio station’s legal conduct:

    Afaik Queen Elizabeth II. still is the monarch of Australia (the constituion says so) and thus a public official. Well, it looks like its illegal to impersonate an Australian official with the intent to gain something from that (like, confidential information), and that such an offence is punishable by UP TO 5 YEARS PRISON under Article 148.1 (3) of the Criminal Code Act of 1995!
    http://www.comlaw.gov.au/Details/C2012C00776

    LOTS of laws and guidelines have been violated. When will the investigations finally start?

  • Reply December 13, 2012

    Bonni

    What seems to have been missing here was simple common sense. Australia has VERY strict privacy laws, particularly concerning medical privacy. What on earth made anyone at this radio station think that the wife of the future head of the Commonwealth was somehow “fair game” for having her private medical details broadcast? Common sense: unfortunately, not so common.

  • Reply December 13, 2012

    Www.sydneynudistinfo.com

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

    • Reply December 13, 2012

      Gray

      “giving support to all those involved”? Why should anyone support phone con artists, who secretly record conversations, breach medical confidentiality, endanger hard working people’s jobs, frivolously keep hospital workers from their important duties and don’t show any concern about the numerous laws and guidelines they violate at all? Imho it’s high time they learn that even the media has some limits, and that entertainment doesn’t justify everything! No support for those jerks. Period.

  • Reply December 13, 2012

    ro.watson

    Just coming back to that broadcast~which I heard on replay. I am in hearing deficit so maybe I did not hear it correctly~on replay~ I thought Mel identified herself as a “grandmother”~ not a grand mother in law?? And not the Queen. Was that edited? What difference does that make? Well I reckon impersonation notion for a start of “the Queen”. Um ,er~ not good.. And yes, I reckon recording and broadcasting a person’s voice without consent is still wrong~ unless there is a very good “public interest” reason to do so. Waiting for that reason..which I gather is unlikely to come…. Any offers of that reason?

    • Reply December 13, 2012

      Gray

      Ok, that additional accusation of impersonating a public official may be a bit weak, I have to admit! :D
      That was made very much tongue in cheek. But in cases where the prosecution was really desperate to put someone in prison, they have come up with even more farfetched charges.

  • Reply December 13, 2012

    ro.watson

    Missed the tongue in cheek, Gray. My gravitas again. For non Latin afficionadoes(s.p)~ it means serious.

    • Reply December 13, 2012

      Gray

      “For non Latin afficionadoes” That’s me! :) I chose French at school instead. Merci bien, Monsieur Watson, et a bientôt!

  • Reply December 14, 2012

    ro.watson

    Without meaning to disturb anyone~ I am not a mister(Monsieur)….

  • Reply December 15, 2012

    robyn pitt

    Hospitals should have a password given to the families of patients in hospital so that any information about a patient is given to the right person.

  • [...] will remember, of course, from December that Christian was one half of the radio team who made THAT prank phone call to inquire after the health of the Duchess of Cambridge and her hospitalization for acute morning [...]

  • [...] will remember, of course, that Christian was one half of the radio team who made that prank phone call to inquire after the health of the Duchess of Cambridge and her hospitalisation for acute morning [...]

  • […] Wendy Harmer, former 2Day FM radio host argues that it is this lack of the ‘gotcha’ and knowledge on the behalf of the hospital and the nurses that they have been a part of a prank call which was recorded and to be broadcast on Australian radio, that made the call so wrong. In her time as a radio her host she says that she took responsibility to ensure that the people on the receiving end of the prank call were aware before it was broadcast, something she believes that Greig and Christian failed to do. Identified by Adrian Lang (2009) the station also has a duty to respect and protect the privacy of its callers, something which they failed to do with this call. […]

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