Readers condemn royal hoax killer call

Nurse Jacintha Saldanha: took own life

Two Australian radio DJs responsible for a vile hoax call which resulted in a nurse's death were reckless and the station's management should be held equally to account, NBR ONLINE readers say.

A nurse at a British hospital, Jacintha Saldanha, reportedly committed suicide the day after being involved in a hoax phone call in which the radio presenters pretended they were the Queen and Prince Charles wanting to speak to Kate Middleton.

The DJs who made the call, 2Day FM's Mel Greig and Michael Christian, are said to be "fragile" over the incident – but not fragile enough going by what some readers say.

The call was pre-recorded then vetted by the station's lawyers and managers, but it's the two presenters who have attracted the most heat.

The story generated a lot of discussion among readers, many of whom believe the DJs crossed the line.

"JayBee" says their actions are indefensible.

"Planning to obtain private medical details of a pregnant, sick woman and broadcasting them is not acceptable to any decent person. Planning to do so by conning vulnerable people and exposing them to disciplinary action is even worse.

"The fact that the consequences of this action were so much worse than planned and have resulted in such a huge backlash does not excuse the original intention."

Another reader takes a swipe at the overly jocular, low-brow culture of commercial radio.

"It's supported by a culture where many will feel that something is not quite right but will go along with it just for the fun of it or because they are too unsure of their own beliefs."

"Brian" says the station's management are as guilty as the DJs, as the hoax was pre-recorded and approved for broadcast.

"They all did it for more publicity, more notoriety, which is worth much more money to them all. They were gloating over their success until this happened.

"Now they are copping the same energy that they so cockily inflicted on that poor woman. They are now on the receiving end of world wide headlines, but not for the reason they want. It does serve them right."

Another reader says it is too late for the DJs to say they never meant any harm with their prank.

"So pathetic to now say you are sorry, and pathetic for people to try and defend their actions. They did it, now they face the consequences. Tough."

"Richard", a reader from the UK, writes:  "Clearly the 'pranksters' were happy to risk the telephone call recipient being reprimanded or even fired.

"That shows how cynical and uncaring the radio station staff and supporters are.

"The death merely highlights the personal & moral failings of these people."

callison@nbr.co.nz

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12 Comments & Questions

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How fickle people's opinion's can be. The day before this woman killed herself the DJs were being acclaimed as folk heroes by the very people that now call them pariahs. None of us know what other pressures were on this poor woman or what punitive action the hospital itself had dealt out to worsen the way she felt. And where were the hospital's own procedures about dealing with calls from the public? If these had been properly actioned, the call would never have got through in the first place.

Don't be too quick to blame the DJs. They were only serving the "public's" craving for entertainment at any cost. If anything, the fault lies with the whole of society, not just two misguided individuals.

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Excuse me? Who are you saying 'acclaimed them as folk heros'? Too many of these clowns have developed the habit of acting without thinking. We tell our kids 'consider the consequences'. These guys are just big kids, and there is a lesson to be learned here.

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This story has been subject to so much spin that I fear we have lost sight of the real culprits. The Oz DJs were stupid, but where were the the hospital protocols? Where were the duchess's minders? The hospital appears to be guilty of gross negligence. It claims that the nurse was counselled but it could not have been done very well. What did the counselling consist of? Was she clinically depressed, and if so why was she working at all? Mentally healthy people do not commit suicide. What are the real facts?
The Bleat Street has never been accused of confusing readers with facts.

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If the facts are true that nurse Jacintha Saldanha simply put the call through to the ward where the Duchess of Cambridge was being treated for acute morning sickness and that a second nurse actually gave the pair details of Kate Middleton's condition, you have to wonder what prior mental state a this "happliy married woman with 2 kids" was actually in to take her own life for putting a call through to the ward.

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What about the comments of those readers who suggested the prank call and the radio DJs should not be blamed for something that could not have been foreseen and something that almost certainly involves wider issues of depression or other mental illness? Is there any requirement for balance in journalism these days?

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This reader thought that hoax call was quite funny and couldn't believe that the ward sister was fooled by it. It was a juvenile-type prank for sure,but it was a harmless prank and would have remained so had that nurse not committed suicide. Why she did that I would have no idea as all she did was put the call through to the ward.
I remember a TV 3 programme where a carpenter was taking liberties with some woman's underwear. He hasn't committed suicide,so far as I am aware. I wonder if TV3 will ever show that sort of thing again. Would they be worried that if they did that the person they outed might commit suicide.
I reckon we won't hear of any more prank calls for quite some time.
Maybe that's not a bad thing. But I wouldn't blame those DJs. I am sure they now wish they hadn't made that call,but they couldn't have forseen what would happen.

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So It's a harmless prank call, nothing more?

A prank call from radio stations tends to have guidelines regarding permissions which seemingly were overlooked as "they couldn't get through" to the nurses involved as no doubt it was considered "ratings gold" by the management of 2Day FM and couldn't wait for such a small annoyance...

The blame game is now being slanted by SCO towards the hospital as they watch their shares go down as it's impossible to justify blaming the nurse involved now as the hole they dig themselves seemingly gets bigger and bigger with every statement made....

Now I'm just off to make a prank call to the emergency services about a house being on fire down the road, I'll really enjoy watching the fire engine wake up my neighbours....

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Fame whores trying to make themselves look clever by publicly humiliating someone. This reminds me why I don't want to see Paul Henry back on air in New Zealand.

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What a load of drivel. Of course the woman hadn't (a) been hounded by the British media and (b) been given a whizz up by her manager. She chose to kill herself, for goodness sake. The DJs in question didn't do it for her!

Does this mean that one can't do anything without going through the millions of possible permutations and combinations of what may or may not happend during an undefined period out into the future? How stupid is that?

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I wonder how the hierarchy at the hospital treated her. I would suggest that they would have a much greater hand sending her to suicide?

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Thank God we live in New Zealand, where our hospitals are barred from divulging confidential information to every Tom, Dick and Harry.

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She would have been devastated at unwittingly assisting a colleague in breaching medical confidentiality over the condition of Kate, the Duchess of Cambridge.

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