The role of Australia’s mass media regulations in the death of Jacintha Saldanha. Part 3 ‘O’: The unanswerable question; Why?

jacintha saldanha suicide notesHow, Who, What, When, Where, and toughest of all, the question of Why? In an hour or so the inquest into the death of Jacintha Saldanha will try seek to answer to some of these complex, interacting questions. 

[ Note: the short link URL for this posting is: ]

Whilst Jacintha’s  family, Ben, Lisha and Junal, will want the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth, there may be many others who, because of their actions or attitudes, most definitely may not want the whole truth on display. Somehow, the inquest must impartially scrutinize and evaluate the myriad of facts and opinions and come up with a set of official findings as to the cause of Jacintha’s death. The reality is that the finding may satisfy few and anger or upset many, especial those with culpable responsibility for the events that triggered her fatal actions.

 2Day FM’s scam was an illegal activity that had at least 4 clearly identifiable victims:

  1. The Queen who was falsely impersonated for the purpose of obtaining confidential medical information.
  2. The Duchess of Cambridge whose confidential medical information was the target information that 2Day FM was illegally seeking.
  3. The King Edward V11 Hospital who had a duty of care to protect the privacy of the Duchess of Cambridge.
  4. Jacintha Saldanha who was the front-line hospital employee targeted with being deceived in order to obtain the confidential information.

 Which of these 4 victims was the most vulnerable to being traumatized and harmed by the 2Day FM  scam and therefore required the most post-trauma support?

 Personally, I believe that the person most affected was Jacintha because she had been humiliated on a world-wide basis by professional media experts who had set out to make a mass media killing at her expense. 

  • She was humiliated on a world-wide scale and that is a massive trauma for even the most thick skinned of people.
  • For an emotionally sensitive person like Jacintha, that was major trauma; the problem is that it appears that those who should have perceived this trauma and implemented remedial action failed to do so.

 Ben may have put 40 very valid questions to the hospital’s management about their response to the trauma inflicted upon Jacintha but at the end of the day, perhaps the most critical question is, why did 2Day FM think that it was okay to run the scam in the first place?

 When it comes to professional integrity and ethics, 2Day FM management does not have a good track record.

  1.  A few years ago 2Day FM hooked a 14 year-old girl, i.e. a child, to a lie detector and then questioned her about her sex life. Clearly, audience response, which included pandering to the faceless sicko  paedophiles and the equally sicko vicarious thrills listeners in the station’s potential audience of 4 million listeners was more important than protecting this child. So much for Care for Kids! Caring for the station’s profits was apparently far more important for 2Day FM’s management.
  2. Shock sells! 2Day FM’s resident ‘shock jock’, Kyle Sandilands certainly did that when he described a female Internet journalist in outrageously inappropriate terms in which the phrase “fat slag” was probably the least of the indecent phrases that he used in an angry outburst. Instead of hitting the mute button to prevent these highly offensive comments from being-broadcast; his abusive remarks were broadcast.
  3. Even more incredibly, when chastised by the ACMA and ordered not to do it again, 2Day FM, protecting their money-making ‘shock jock’, appealed on the ground s that the penalty would be too difficult to apply.
  4. This then was the level of management integrity that was in play when the plot was hatched to impersonate the Queen in an attempt to obtain an international media scoop, i.e. confidential details of the medical condition of the Duchess of Cambridge.
  5. In order to benefit from this scoop, 2Day FM needed to ignore laws that prohibit the secret recording of telephone conversations.
  6. The shutting down of the News of the World after it was involved in the secret recording of telephone calls would have left 2Day FM management in no doubt as to the seriousness of their planned action and yet this was ignored.
  7. So why did they do it?

Was it because Australia’s voluntary ‘self-regulation’ codes of practise actually encourage unconscionable conduct because it is almost impossible for the victims of inappropriate conduct to hold broadcasters accountable under these codes of practice.

  1. Was it because the fact that for decades, successive  Australian governments have had a ‘hands-off’ approach to holding the mass media accountable for excessive abuse of power by freely allowing the nation’s mass media to engage in reprehensible activities  such as the targeted socio-economic vilification of a socially vulnerable, impoverished group, i.e. the nation’s unemployed? 
  2. This is a common form of grossly inappropriate mass media abuse that is perfectly lawful in Australia even though all other forms of vilification are unlawful.
  3. Was the freedom to engage in one form of abuse an incentive to engage in other forms of abuse that involved violating criminal laws?

Has the global mass media industry, or sections of Australia’s mass media media, fallen for the self-deception that the self-serving mantras of  “freedom of the press” and “freedom of speech” mean that the industry enjoys “freedom from accountability”?

  • The News Ltd reaction to both the Eackot racial vilification court decision and the Gillard Government’s public inquiry into mass media regulation represent powerful empirical evidence that Australia’s mass media believes itself to be beyond accountability by either the nation’s courts or an elected government.
  • Last year the world’s 36th richest person, Gena Rinehart, expressed the opinion that workers in Africa are “happy” to be paid $2 a day!
  • Is it therefore a case corporate leadership within Australia’s mass media having a “greed is good” mentality in which the pursuit of financial gain is placed ahead of humanitarian issues or even compliance with the law? For example, on the 28th November 2012, one of the ‘king-pins’ of Australia’s mass media, Kym Williams, had encouraged the nation’s mass media to “let market forces trump the regulators”.

Was it in fact a combination of all of these complex factors? If it was, then who is ultimately responsible for triggering the fatal fugue that resulted in Jacintha’s death?


In times past, the truth was whatever the rich and the powerful wanted it to be. However, the Internet is a game changing paradigm for now anyone, anywhere in the world, can challenge vested interest “truths” and demand the real truth, not the sanitized for public consumption truth that is so often served up by governments keen to have the consequences of their political stupidity, ideological blindness and insensitive arrogance swept under carpet.

The transcript of the inquest and the official finding will be available for review world-wide and if there is the faintest hint of a cover-up of the real truth, then I am sure that there will many people who will strive to ensure that any systemic injustice will be exposed.

UNANSWERED QUESTIONS: Sometimes there is no answer.

In 1972 my own father committed suicide;  the painful reality that I learnt from his death is that when people take their own lives, many very painful questions will never be answered because the only person who knows the real truth cannot answer them.

Nothing can undo what has happened. Moving forward means learning from what has happened and making changes that prevent similar mistakes from happening. Therefore the real value of the inquest lies in seeking the uncompromising, perhaps very painful truths, that will expose the highly sensitive or embarrassing warts-and-all factors that played a role in Jacintha’s tragic death. Jacintha died because, with the wisdom of hind-sight, it is apparent that too many  people who should have known better, failed her at a crucial time. Equally significant, there were critical systemic failures.

Only by being open and honest to those painful truths will our global-village society be able to learn from what happened to Jacintha so that those personal and systemic failures can be recognized, understood, and then meaningfully changed in order to prevent any other similar fatalities.

Ben, Lisha and Junal are about to experience one of the most painful experiences in their lives. I hope that people around the world, whatever their personal faith or religion, will lift them up in their prayers today.

Sometime a moment of TLC can work miracles. Beyond the current dark sadness lies a lifetime of opportunity to understand the problems of others. Learn from Jacintha’s pain; be immeasurably enriched and empowered by her life and be a compassionate and caring person who understands the life changing value of a simple smile, a hug, a listening ear, or the life saving value of simply just being there when someone needs a little bit of tender loving care or compassion.

 May God bless you, now and always.

 Ronald Medlicott .


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