Sunday, December 9, 2012

Reflections on Lost Lives

Social media, online news and commentary everywhere has been whipping itself into a frenzy regarding the “Royal Prank Call”. 
It seems that many people want to hang the blame on someone.    Surely there must be someone to blame? 

What about the radio announcers?  They did it.  Let's blame them.   But is it really their fault?  Should the buck stop with them?

I am a radio producer and I can tell you that the buck does not stop with them.   It was a pre-recorded “interview”, most likely put together and approved by the producers and also approved by the 2DayFM legal department. It wasn’t an “on air, live, spur of the moment thing” by the announcers only.   It may not have even been their initial idea – producers often come up with ideas for a radio show.

I have used the term “interview” above very loosely.  Did the nurses they spoke to know the call was being recorded?   Did they know it was going to be played on air?   Perhaps if this discussion occurred after the pranking it may never have gone this far.   

But this is all speculation.  Just like everyone else I am speculating as to what actually happened. 

Regardless of the speculation and who should be blamed, there has been a terrible tragedy.  A tragedy that noone could have predicted.  No amount of speculating will ever bring this mother back to her two children.

What makes a person take their own life?   How long is a piece of string?

The tipping point for some is so tiny; like a twig that will snap with the slightest amount of pressure - whereas for others there is a much larger margin; like the solidness of a tree trunk.
We, nor the radio announcers, or her colleagues, or perhaps even her family knew of Jacintha Saldanha's tipping point.  

But sadly and tragically, for her and her family, it was reached.    

So, now I ask, is the loss of one life worth another?  

The public hatred towards the two announcers has been vile and incredibly vicious.   I’m certainly not defending what they did – prank and gotcha calls can be mildly amusing, but unless they meet all the broadcasting rules they should never go to air.    

Leaving that to one side … just what do the public want from these young and inexperienced announcers? 

Their scalps?  Their heads on plates?  An eye for an eye?   

Yes, they have made a mistake and will now have to live with the consequences.   

Do we know what their tipping point is?   No we don’t.   Nonetheless, we really should care about it.


Last Wednesday … a vibrant, beautiful, talented, caring woman; a daughter, a sister, an aunty and a friend; someone I count as my friend … took her own life.   

For most of us this has come as a great shock.   

There was no person more vibrant, happier, confident and full of life.   

However those in her inner circle knew her torment.  They knew of her battle with mental illness.  

For most of us, we didn’t.

We assumed she was happy.   She was okay.    

She wasn’t. 

Her tipping point was last Wednesday.  

No one knew.


I am sad and reflective.  

I tweeted this last night.

“Often it's the person you least suspect who may be sad & trapped in their own private mental hell. We should pay more attention to each other.” 

It was retweeted a lot.   

The message is important. 

We should play a lot nicer together.   

At the end of everything, we are all the same.   We arrive in the same way and we leave in the same way.    We just have different stuff that happens in between and we all make mistakes along the way.  

Every single one of us. 

Let’s start caring a little more about each others stuff and tread a little more gently when mistakes are made. 

That’s all.


If this post brings up any issues for you or you feel you need to talk to someone, please call Lifeline on 13 11 14 or visit their website here


  1. Every single word true Annie. Every single one.

  2. Oh honey. Much love sweetheart x

  3. Agree agree agree Annie. And so sorry to hear about your personal loss. Michelle

  4. So their main concern is the legality of what they did and not the morality. So humiliating someone, possibly jepardizing their job, and continuously bragging about it on a world wide stage is fine, because it isn't illegal. Why worry about the human factor with their is publicity and $$$ to be made.

    1. who continuously bragged about it? the media, mostly outraged British media played and replayed and raged. If anyone intensified the situation and humiliated this nurse it was the 'pomp and circumstance' british media who replayed it with outrage over and over again.

  5. I love the way you think, feel and write, Annie!
    I'm so sorry you lost a dear friend.
    This whole this has got out of control in the media, but sadly it's the kind of thing they seem to love.
    I do thinkg that those radio announcers did a stupid thing, but they shouldn't be tarred and feathered for it.

  6. I think hindsight is 20/20. this was intended as a light hearted prank and I'm sure the radio DJ's never expected to be put through with their ridiculously bad accents. This segment was vetted and approved by the radio stations legal team, and yet, with wide spread condemnation the DJ's are copping the flack. I don't love impersonation but it is certainly not the first time it has happened, or the worst trick ever played on the royals.
    It is an absolute tragedy that this nurse took this action. It's heartbreaking and there is no way to fix it. But surely there is a place to say, yes the prank was poor but where were the hospital protocols and security. Yes this was embarrassing but who truly supported this nurse and the DJ's throughout the exposure to so much scrutiny?
    I think we need to stop finger pointing and look at ourselves as a society who hunger for ridiculous gossipy news and who are so quick to villify someone who has made a poor choice. When did we all get so 'perfect' we feel we can stand in judgement of the few who are in the spotlight of the day?
    I've raved. I feel strongly about this. sorry

  7. I have commented on this elsewhere, but at no point, I hope, did I vilify the announcers. If fault lies anywhere, it lies with the producers who put the prank to air, as Wil Andersen beautifully summed up:

    Annie, you are an industry insider, as well as a compassionate person, so I respect your opinion above others.

    Yesterday someone I know only superficially - at my gym class - hinted she was depressed. I have decided I will ask her next week how she is really feeling. Thank you for reminding me of this, through the sad story of your friend. I won't let the opportunity slip by.

  8. I've been really torn by this tragedy Annie. These last 2 days I've reflected on the days of Waynee Poo on BC and BK and even Jamie Dunn of more recent years. 'Gotcha' calls were a part of radio. What is it that's changed us so much in just 10-15 years?.. I'm pondering that very much at the moment. Something that was such fun and innocent and brought nothing but laughter 10-15 years ago is now so seen so very differently. I'm still pondering that. I've been on the end of them many times and just brushed them with a laugh. The pressure cooker world we're creating is taking people to the brink, and some past it. Is it the calls, or is it the madness of modern society?

    Annie, I'm incredibly sad about this story, and even more so by your loss this week. My heart goes out to you.

    I was chatting to a close friend yesterday and she too used your words that we just don't know what the tipping point is for each of us. The one thing I have come to realise is from another conversation I had some months ago with my friend Jeff Turner is that the time has come for us all to lighten the f**k up. This pressure cooker we've collectively created is taking us all to a boiling point much quicker than many of us are realising, and for some, the reality is coming too late. Thank you for your perspective on a dark couple of days Annie. X

  9. You made me cry. Brilliant summation.

  10. Words so true, yet so sad. Beautifully written Annie.

  11. the article that you have been written this web this so true and so much impotent for the every one if some one understand this he can do more and more for the people of world so thanks for the sharing.


Thank you for sharing your thoughts with me x

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