(11f) Nurse dies and anger.
Nurse Saldanha died over the weekend. She was the receiving end of the hoax phone call from Australia where two radio DJs, working for Sydney radio station 2DayFM, pretended to be the Queen and Prince Charles. Mrs Saldanha answered the phone and passed the DJs through to the nurse who looked after the Duchess of Cambridge while she was recovering from morning sickness because of her pregnancy. Soon an inquest will investigate whether or not Mrs Saldanha committed suicide. The two DJs gave an interview, expressing their regrets.
I don't know whether Mrs Saldanha committed suicide or not, that an inquiry will investigate. It is of course very sad if indeed she committed suicide for passing through the phone call, because it would expose even more dramatically the wrongs of what some media has become. In its struggle for more readers, listeners and viewers it lost its soul and started to invade people's lives, destroying nice people while making others angry. Indeed, that is what bullies do: destroy or make angry. But I also believe the two DJs when they say they are really sorry. They were only part of the media, and to be part they had to join (and how often do we not hear this on the radio as something innocent?).
But it is the reaction of the people afterwards that is more important. It shows people start to become angry with the media, although they first encouraged them because of the details it provided about others.
Indeed, the well-loved Duchess is in hospital because of a pregnancy and then the media invades her privacy by making a phone call and trying to find out about her condition. Afterwards it seems that the nurse who answered the phone commits suicide. And the people become angry; the two DJs even had to hide and are at this moment no longer presenting their program.
As I mentioned in earlier articles, if the press continues not knowing its limits and going too far in the liberties it takes for itself, then those liberties may be removed, if not by legislation then because of anger. People start to get fed up with the invasion of the press in private lives of people, certainly when it involves a beloved member of a royal family and a servant of society. And really, has the media become so narcissistic they only think to know their own rights while not sensing the public has enough. Good journalism knows what happens in society, including about themselves (although now only the opinion of celebrities is wanted, what ordinary people think is of no importance anymore for many media).
Recently the Leveson Inquiry ended with a report with some recommendations. PM David Cameron is against because he finds the media should self-legislate, although he too warns the media that the clock is ticking or otherwise there will be consequences.
Journalist Simon Jenkins wrote in his column in the Guardian that he agrees with PM Cameron. He claims the inquiry "... was set up in emotional responses to crimes, mostly of intrusion and libel, committed by some journalists". He wonders how the misbehaviour of some journalists can halt Westminster for two days while Britain is in a recession and fighting wars. That is because the media became so powerful that it can more or less break every politician's career except of the most powerful one although even they fear the press.
Mr Jenkins acknowledge that "there are no proposals for censorship, ..." in the report, so why does he reads something else in it? He says "His (= Leveson) battery of incentives for voluntary regulation is ingenious". I don't understand some in the media still defend the absolute freedom to publish and "Ultimately there is nothing to be done about wildcat publishers.... they are the price of freedom, however ugly and rough at the edges", i.e. as if being ridiculed and careers destroyed is sometimes worth paying for. He says that the media regulates itself, e.g. there are curbs on photo-intrusion and on the coverage of the sick. Indeed, many newspapers don't want to publish about sick people as publications about the rich and famous sells more newspapers; serious newspapers still publish about the sick to make us aware of them. But I agree it should be done with dignity and thus with the agreement of the sick or the sick should be made unrecognisable.
I don't understand Mr Jenkins. Does he really not understand that letting the press go on as they did will destroy press freedom? Serious media should promote themselves as examples of how journalism should be done with obedience of the law. Indeed, the serious media exposed the wrongs of their colleagues and as a consequence many fell. Do the serious media really not expect revenge by the media that behaved wrongly?
To prevent the end of press freedom, the serious media should celebrate a strong press regulatory body so that certain sections of the media will no longer misbehave. A strong regulatory body will prevent legislation is needed to prevent media spreading lies or invading people's privacy. Without such a body all media may suffer the consequences as Mr Jenkins fear: indeed, if people have the impression wrongdoings are not punished, then the public becomes angry and demand laws, restricting also the freedom of the serious press.
Mr Jenkins says "Ask many of its (= press) victims and the gag and the gallows are too good for it". It seems he even thinks that it is because of the Guardian who wrote about the breaking of the law that the "News of the World (NotW)" closed. Indeed, the serious press spoke about the scandals but if the general public was not scandalised, NotW would still exist; it only closed because people and politicians became angry. Thus, a good regulatory body would have made sure the newspaper was punished and thus other newspapers would not misbehave. Now the newspaper closed down voluntarily while its owners continue with its other papers. As the crimes became so big, even the jurisdiction got involved.
But there is hope, there are media people who acknowledge the media can't continue as they do and should again accept some moderation, i.e. respect other people's privacy (unless it harms others).
I find it strange: people often do not accept that police break into people's privacy (and rightly so, they should have a reason) but they accept the media does. Is it sometimes not normal police listens into private conversations to prevent a crime ... on condition they asked the court for permission.