2DayFm, tomorrow

It’s safe to say from anecdotal social media evidence that the world is, to put it politely, somewhat angry with the two presenters who played the prank on Jacintha Saldanha who tragically took her own life following it. The anger extends to 2DayFM who employed the pair and to its management.

Two large Australian companies, Coles and Telstra, pulled advertising from the station and reportedly a third, Woolworths was considering that action too, when the station fell on its sword and stopped all ads running on the station. At least that stemmed the PR impact of advertisers deserting them.

The station owner’s CEO, Rhys Holleran, defended the presenters during a press conference saying that there is no way that “a tragic event that could not have reasonably been foreseen … we are confident we haven’t done anything illegal.Australian media lawyers speaking off the record are not as confident as Mr Holleran and wonder if the station has committed offences relating to secret recording.

Illegality issues are one thing, but Holleran talking about foreseeability is another. Simply, he’s saying that there was no way that anyone could predict the effect of the cause. It matters (generally) in a legal sense as that link of foreseeability of harm to another is what triggers liability for actions.

One things for sure is that no one knows right now or perhaps ever of the causal links in this case, even though the public have already made up their minds about it. I can’t help but think that, at the very least, any pause for thought may have foreseen that the nurse may be embarrassed or perhaps in some trouble with her employer. That alone should have been enough to shelve the idea and if that wasn’t the idea that they were invading an ill and vulnerable woman’s privacy should have.

Michael Idato, writing in the Sydney Morning Herald writes the real truth about this. Putting aside legality, foreseeability, editorial judgement and legal clearance, the station contravened humanity, dignity, compassion and respect.

Published by Brett

Brett is an experienced lawyer and business executive who focuses on commercial outcomes. He has worked across three sectors in England & Australia advising and leading initiatives in digital, media and technology

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