Friday, 7 December 2012

Death By Media

I have just learned that the nurse who is believed to have taken the hoax telephone call at the hospital where the Duchess of Cambridge has been a patient,  has herself been found dead, having ended her own life. 

May she rest in peace.

I have wondered recently where all this stuff about the press will lead. Add to the press the effects of social media and we now witness the ability of the typed and recorded word to become insidious and insinuating in the wrong hands. Once, you needed only to refuse to open a newspaper if you didn't want to be reminded of your faux pas. Now, with the world of the smartphone and millions of armchair barristers, and we witness reactions that have now crushed a good woman to death. I wonder how many lives she saved, or how many more she might have gone on to save? I wonder if you condemned her in a Tweet that you wrote and that she may have seen? 

What is clear from the Leveson inquiry is that parts of the Press have been scribing its own moral code for years. Any suggestions that we actually regulate it has been met with dismay from Ms Chakrabarti as an infringement of human rights. I often find myself yelling at her picture on my TV screen as it seems that she often defending the human rights of those who paid no heed to the human rights of others. The advocacy seems to slip a level these days.

In an age when anyone with a 'phone or a computer can type words and make them visible to anyone suitably equipped anywhere in the world, we find ourselves in an age where we are suddenly in the possession of much power. We seem to love it when radio folk play pranks on someone, and we laugh heartily at the poor dolt who falls over when tricked. Now a woman is dead. Maybe a mother? Certainly a daughter. 

When will this all end? When will the moral compass start to make its way to magnetic north? Why do we bleat so often about Rights but so rarely about responsibilities? Why do people have to die so that we are given a cheap laugh?

Not a glorious end to a week, really. 


  1. I am saddened beyond belief that this has happened to someone. Did the radio DJ's not stop to think of the consequences to those at the other end, we are talking about the Royal family. There would always be consequences.

    I am happy to say that the side of the media in the UK that I dislike with such a passion is not in evidence over here in Canada. Well at least not in the TV, radio, press & social media that I see. That is worth the move all on it's own.

    I pray that family of this young lady find some comfort somehow.

  2. I totally agree. The law of unintended consequences at work here. The two journalists seemed unrepentant when interviewed and even made it a virtue that they hadn't disclosed the contents of the conversation they had in their hands.

    I'm not sure whether people these days examine their conscience, I was brought up to do so and to take that with me to confession. The lack of any sense of moral values exhibited by both journalists has now come home to roost.

    Someone has died as a consequence of their actions - and I think that they will express regret, but disclaim any responsibility. I hope that they have a confessor handy, because such actions only worsen the situation.

    I'm praying for lady involved and her family and her work colleagues, a sudden death of this nature is something very hard to cope with - grief and a lack of understanding pervades any case where someone has taken their own life. and may persist for a lifetime.

  3. David, I couldn't believe the first hints I had of the story you highlight. I had to go off and check it out through multiple sources to make sure it wasn't another hoax. I agree with what you say, and have argued this past week with friends about the Leveson recommendations - about how a 'free' press cannot imply impunity.
    One of the best student talks I ever attended was on this very subject, entitled "Human Rights ... or Wrongs?" by an extremely thoughful & reflective journalist from the Guardian (whose name I cannot recall). Even though this was some 35 years ago he said much the same as you.

  4. So sad and such a waste..... may she now rest in peace ......... and may her loved ones find comfort in friends and family around them.

  5. What has annoyed me are the comments on the Yahoo page which reported this (by readers, not Yahoo) that 'there was more going on this this woman's life to cause the suicide'. So what? It only takes a bad day at the office to lower one's mood, that and fatigue: I even thought of resigning myself this week at a point when I was exhausted and had made a mistake. I hadn't even thought of the lady's reaction to the constant on-line reminders of her error; thank you for that insight. As I understand it she only put the call through, she didn't report on the medical condition - someone else did that. How on earth do they feel now? This tasteless 'joke' has caused hurt all round and sorrow in bucketloads.

  6. A dreadful outcome of a thoughtless, childish and idiotic prank - the poor lady has 2 children, and what of them now?? I really hope that the radio station those 2 were from sacks them - they need to understand the ramifications of their stupidity. They've effectively murdered that poor girl - or it's man- (woman-?)slaughter at the least. Modern technology also has a lot to answer for in this (and other) cases.

  7. I just blogged about this. There's the cultural angle too of being a foreigner and not understanding all the in-jokes of the host country. It took me years to get the Corgi jokes. In Asia dogs don't acquire a mantle of humour of their own.



Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...