For Shame 2DayFM!
Recently my friends an event occurred that diminishes us all, a woman in the depths of some unknown and perhaps dimly perceived despair took her life. It is a tragedy, one that occurs all too often for those drawn into the spirally vortex of depression by the slings and arrows of life. I’ve lost a few friends to this so as much as anyone I can understand some of the torments that drive a person past the brink and realise how sometimes the clues come far too late. I also know the pain and humiliation of being caught up in a vindictive manipulation played out for the vicarious pleasure and profit of others. It is a deeply raw and painful experience that eats at your very soul, knocking out the foundations of self respect and worth, a dangerous canker with a soft voice whispering doubts and offering an easy and lasting solution. I do not know, but can only suspect that it may have been so for Jacinta Saldanha, a nurse of some considerate experience and professional standing. As you’ve probably heard in the news or social media this poor woman was tragically caught up in a so called ‘prank’ concerning the Duchess of Cambridge and problems with her pregnancy that required her immediate rushing to hospital.
Now for a start my sympathy goes to Jacinta’s family for their grievous loss and to assure them that the vast majority of Australians are not at all like those at 2DayFM who created this situation. Further more I would like to express my sorrow to Kate Middleton the Duchess of Cambridge for the stress and concern this assault on your privacy has caused.
Okay so I’ve nailed my colours to the mast I stand against the bullying and harassment of women, children and the vulnerable and will always. Now let us examine an interesting reaction to the storm of criticism regarding this tragedy.
Now along with the world wide avalanche of revulsion on the social media channels, which understandably does include a certain amount of pitch fork and burning torch waving as well as calls ‘fo’ a lynchin’. There have been a few other prominent articles endeavouring to re direct the surge away from 2DayFM and their employees.
Here are the links to just two of them:
http://www.guardian.co.uk/commentisfree/2012/dec/09/saldanha-prank-quick-judge-slow-learn by Yvonne Roberts
by Peter FitzSimons
Both appear to weigh in heavily against the tidal wave of disbelief and disgust, apparently blaming social media for inciting mob rule and encouraging vindictive action towards the pair of harmless DJs. The British journo Yvonne Roberts even trots out the philosopher and psychologist Erich Fromm to justify her labelling of ‘the mob’ ‘as narcissistic toddlers in a permanent state of tantrum’. As a voice of sanity this sadly fails and comes across more as a case of snooty petulance that the community has dared judge anything before their peers in the media have had a go. Perhaps this is an attempt to stand out from the Fleete Street howl, if so it misses the point by a mile.
As for the Sydney Morning Herald article that’s another matter entirely, I happen to know Peter FitzSimons well. At least I did, I went to school with him for many years where if not actual friends we were friendly chatty acquaintances when we frequently bumped into each other between classes and at lunch. he was then in my eyes a good decent lad and a fine footballer, so that’s the personal history.
Now it‘s his ‘explanation’ of the event and misdirection of the blame that prompted me to put this on my blog, because Peter, of all the commentators so far should know better.
This act by the two DJ’s is firstly presented as a ‘harmless prank’ and Peter then plays his ‘limited legal knowledge card’ with phrases like What precisely are they guilty of?
Making a prank call? Which DJ in the history of the world hasn’t…and so on before ending with it’s obviously the fault of the snooty English culture and the royalty kowtowing media who can’t take a joke from a couple of Aussies.
And that’s where I covered my eyes shook my head and cringed. This is not Pozieres and Gallipoli in WWI or Crete and Tobruk in WWII where the sun bronzed laconic Aussies are portrayed as rescuing the stuck up British from military defeat. Which happens to be one of the jingoistic lines played up by Peter in his books, ‘sigh’. For shame Peter, you know as well as anyone in the media industry how radio programmes are prepared, scripted, vetted and rehearsed. This wasn’t just a little joke slightly gone slightly awry and the culprits shouldn’t expect to hide behind their mates in the industry all solidarity in the trenches. That as you know is PR spin and hype. To be honest considering your past articles I’d expected better from you, a lot better.
Facts, not persiflage are what makes real historical analysis and I’m afraid Peter you’ve sadly fallen down on presenting any real facts. So I will.
Fact 1. Over the past few years 2DayFM has a history of unscrupulous behaviour against women, fellow journalists and presenters (usually female) children, the disadvantaged and disabled.
Fact 2. Patterns of bullying behaviour and misogyny tend to flourish in an organisation if they are ignored or rewarded instead of punished.
Fact 3. This was not a ‘prank’, the phone call was one item in a carefully planned and reviewed schedule of business operations for inclusion in the station’s broadcast presentation.
Fact 4. Before this went to air several managers and legal officers would have had it pass over their desk. This as you will soon see makes them accessories before the fact.
Fact 5. If this call was part of a commercial operation, which it of course was then the ‘funny, innocent and harmless excuses vanish in a puff of reality, giving it a much more serious intent.
Fact 6. Since this is a commercial operation then the call obviously was intended to boost the status, ratings and profit of 2Day FM. Now that makes it a criminal act under the UK Fraud Act
Fact 7. It is a crime under the UK Fraud Act 2006 according to this section:
2.Fraud by false representation
(1)A person is in breach of this section if he—
(a)dishonestly makes a false representation, and
(b)intends, by making the representation—
(i)to make a gain for himself or another, or
(ii)to cause loss to another or to expose another to a risk of loss.
(2)A representation is false if—
(a)it is untrue or misleading, and
(b)the person making it knows that it is, or might be, untrue or misleading.
(3)“Representation” means any representation as to fact or law, including a representation as to the state of mind of—
(a)the person making the representation, or
(b)any other person.
(4)A representation may be express or implied.
(5)For the purposes of this section a representation may be regarded as made if it (or anything implying it) is submitted in any form to any system or device designed to receive, convey or respond to communications (with or without human intervention).
Fact 8. It has never been legal for any journalist or unauthorised person to fraudulently gain or then publish another person’s medical records in either the UK or Australia. In short this was a deliberate and premeditated criminal act.
Fact 9. Rather than admitting any form of fault or contrition the information gained by deception was repeatedly presented as a personal, professional and commercial triumph of the individuals and the station which refutes the claim of prank.
So as you can see this is action is very far indeed from the kind of friendly jape or jocularity swapped around the pub or the wry teasing of tourists about our deadly and carnivorous fauna,both real and imaginary. It is instead a premeditated action to enhance a commercial position and has as much moral justification as the hacking of Milly Dowler’s phone or those of the families of the victims of the London bombing.
It is in short indefensible, unjustifiable and illegal. Period.
The fact that it has created so great a wave of revulsion is actually a sign of hope that we the common people can see through the lies and deceptions of those who’d profit by other’s pain and anguish.
Thus according to the above facts the station 2Day FM and the two DJ’s should face lawful prosecution for serious breaches of Australian and UK laws. I would also suggest after an open and lawful investigation, if it is merited that 2Day FM lose its broadcasting licence.
Just a quick addition, this is the take of a Law professor from Sydney University interviewed on the 10/12/12