I very rarely post things like opinion articles, but the events that have occurred over the past 48 hours have infuriated me and I feel a need to express them somewhere. If you read this (and I hope you do), please remember that they are my opinions - they’re based on information that I have gathered and may not represent the thoughts or views of others…
Well isn’t the media a flurry today?
My goodness, if it isn’t face bashing from outlet after outlet, focused directly at someone who’s been through well more than enough of it already, then I don’t know what it is.
As you’re probably well aware of, it all started some months ago, when a prank phone call was made to a hospital, as a radio content joke. I heard the call as it was played back to air - I was in my car driving home from work. It was funny and if anyone was to fall for it honestly got a huge one pulled over them. The media seemed to love it too, with pretty well every single outlet, or as many as possibly could, trying to get hold of the hosts or publishing something to inform their followers of the “prank of the year”. The whole thing so quickly got blown out of proportion.
And then it happened. News broke, on the Friday that followed, at about 10:30pm AWST. I was in a radio studio at the time, 20 sec from heading into a talk break when I informed my co-host, “There is something I need to let you know and we need to read, lets keep this break short”. Very soon after, we both read through articles as they started to flow through from the UK. “Nurse commits suicide after receiving prank call from Australian Radio DJs”. Oh how quick the Britts are at pointing fingers…
Within minutes, the floods of hate tweets directed at the accounts of the announcers went through the roof to the point where the accounts were suspended. It was all too messy, and realistically there were no confirmed details other than that a nurse was dead.
In the following days, it was only then that we learnt which nurse had passed. To my surprise, it was not the nurse whom passed on the information, but the one who initially answered the call and patched it through to another in the ward of question. A grand total of less than 20 seconds on the phone, with no information being passed seems to me that there was defiantly something else going on in her life that would lead her to perform actions as so described.
Even later, reports - again from the UK media (damn these guys are persistent) - of a suicide note, left by the late nurse, apparently pointing blame at two Australian announcers and requesting the payment of her houses’ mortgage. No mention of love to her family and friends, no final memoirs, just a “Pay off my house because you made me take my own life”. Seems a little suss to me.
All of the historic aside, both announcers copped a lot between the months that followed and now, until the media outlets lost interest and slowly, one by one, stopped posting articles about the matter. Slowly, it looked like the pair could finally start recovering from the shock that was completely and undoubtably something that could not be expected nor predicted, by anyone.
When I was younger, I jumped into a pool and hurt my back. My first instinct was to get out of the pool, after which, I didn’t want to return to it. It was under the advice and pressure of my mum, that I got back in. Sure it’s not anywhere near this situation, but the moral of the story is the same. Getting back on a horse that threw you off will never be easy. If you claim the announcers to be inhumane for not feeling pain for what they might or might not’ve paid a part in, then you yourself are inhumane for not taking care or having compassion for someone who is visibly hurt and suffering from the result of past events.
Quietly making a return to air and without mention of his own name was that first step back into the pool, that first foot in the stirrup as you try to climb back aboard. I was so glad, proud and happy upon hearing the news. Finally a fellow human’s life could have the chance to return on track.
As everything, things fizz out, they become distant. Very rarely, an outlet would publish some information, a little residue of news in relation to the proceedings in the UK, the status of announcers here in Australia or the actions of their employer. Anything that could be linked back to it would, even reports on the results of ratings of the station or network - something that’s a huge team effort that shouldn’t be shadowed by events of the past of whom aren’t even working at the station at present.
That brings us to now. Yesterday, news was dropped about the results of an internal competition from a radio station network - a morale booster, a pat on the back and form of encouragement for its employees and a way to ensure internal development of talent and skills. Almost every company has something of the sort - either a competition or a review. Even those who don’t, will still have a situation where employees pay rates are risen (provided good economic situations and such that I just won’t even go into…). It’s common in almost all businesses and it’s been proven as a great way to improve. Being a peer to peer competition helps drive each other to go that one step further, to push oneself to the limits in coming up with something original.
Not being an employee at the business, I am not privileged to any more information than that I can receive from friends who are, or from the Press Release posted on their website. From what I gather, in the weeks where the competition was running, announcers were encouraged to submit “Airchecks” (example recordings) of talk breaks, for assessment by a team of judges. At the end of it, the winners were announced and rewarded for their efforts. It’s important to note, that the competition started well after any of the nurse related incident had occurred. As soon as the media realised that one of the winners was involved in the prank call they could return to their finger-pointing blaming tyrants that the public have known them to be.
Something that was supposed to be an award and congratulation to recognise “top efforts” quickly became another round of public bullying for someone who has no convictions on any crimes relating to the topic at link.
Hearing word that articles were being posted and that news breaks were being aired with the angle and stance as they were was truly disheartening. I couldn’t believe it. On one hand, there’s someone who is trying to get their life back on track, while on the other is a big bully, still throwing sticks and stones.
The long and the short of it, the media (and with this, I include all mediums) is in no way shape or form in a fit position to point fingers for blame at another for a result that may have occurred in reaction to one of their publications or airings. People have had lives ruined by all mediums, where in reality they were of no blame - these people are exactly like (almost) everyone else on this planet. They go to sleep and wake up, they eat, they drink, they go to work - they lead lives.
Why should someone have to live their life, constantly being blamed for a situation occurring, where another person has a decisive action to cause that to occur? No-one is perfect and we all make mistakes.
The self imposed death of a nurse, can not be the responsibility of radio announcers whom at no point, planted any idea of the sort in their mind.
Who knows, maybe next time I call to complain to a manager of a pizza store, I might also get publicly shamed for causing the suicide of a member of staff answering and passing on a phone call.
If you have any feedback or wish to comment on the above, feel free to send me a message via my ask box. TL;DR The media need to take a long look at the way they choose what angle they’re going to report news and events. We are all humans, we need to work together.
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It’s things like these that remind us why we need to keep an eye on raw access logs. They are very important with the construction and maintenance of websites - and I highly recommend reporting anything abnormal you see to the developers of your CMS. In my case, we use enVisage, a custom built CMS that is designed to be different from other CMS applets.