Know the line that can be crossed, and the one that can’t

A TRAGIC mess.

It’s hard to find any succinct encapsulation of the death of nurse Jacintha Saldanha following a prank call to London’s King Edward VII Hospital from 2Day FM presenters Mel Greig and Michael Christian last week.

The fallout on both sides of the world has been significant.

2Day FM yesterday revealed it had attempted to contact the hospital on at least five occasions before airing the prank. It claims that pranks are an everyday part of broadcasting and that it believes, legally, it has done nothing wrong.

The court of public opinion has another distinct view. 

Advertisers have dropped the network and social media was full of vitriolic and some disturbing commentary.

The presenters are now receiving counselling as concerns over their own mental health is raised.

How could a harmless, simple phone call become so complicated?

Knowing the line that can be crossed and the one that shouldn’t is what separates modern broadcasters from others in the media.

Being edgy or controversial is often what separates the successful from those that are not – and the public is the ultimate determinate on the basis of listening habits.

Clearly listeners have ultimate power to invoke change.

Scotland Yard may have contacted New South Wales police but don’t expect criminal charges to be laid.

The Australian Communications and Media Authority yesterday confirmed it had not opened an investigation.

While some are calling for more intense regulation of broadcasters, the harsh reality is that real change can only be led by the community.

Not the social media trolls but by real people changing listening habits.

Easier said than done, considering 2Day FM’s previous infractions have hardly diminished its audience.

There are many lessons to be learnt from this tragic event but we would just make one final point.

The lack of understanding of mental health and suicide remains a flaw in communities locally, nationally and internationally.

Like the circumstances surrounding this incident, its never simple.

Investing in better knowledge in the community is something governments and authorities can do more about.

People experiencing difficulties can call Lifeline on 131 114