Anton Goryunov reports from New Delhi: Sometimes is seems hacks just don’t know when to stop.
Yes, I’m talking about the coverage of the death of Nurse Jacintha Saldanha who has been finally laid to rest in her native town of Shirva, in India, having committed suicide after falling for that prank phone call by two Australian DJs who pretended to be the Queen and Prince Charles. She was found hanged in her living quarters at King Edward the VII Hospital after taking the hoax call and transferring it to the ward where the Duchess of Cambridge was treated at the time for acute morning sickness that was caused by her pregnancy.
Yes, it was a tragedy but this was no reason to turn it into some international crisis that had supposedly impacted on millions around the planet. Because that was the impression that people could get from the hysterical coverage that was unleashed on the unsuspecting public – day in day out.
The British media was especially guilty of blowing the whole sorry incident with the royal prank phone call out of all proportion. It was as if Nurse Saldanha was transformed, all of a sudden, into an international celebrity figure who attracted huge attention of millions when she was alive. To listen to some hacks, half of India was supposedly devastated by the death of that woman. (Incidentally, if she was a Catholic how was she given a religious funeral if she had committed suicide?) Interestingly the other nurse, who took the call in the ward itself and actually revealed information about the Duchess of Cambridge’s state of health, remains hidden from the world. Who is she and has she kept her job? That would be interesting to know.
The burial of Nurse Saldanha was treated by the media as if it were some state funeral. Her husband even gave a press conference after it, telling journalists who should have been minding their own business, to be honest, that he was planning to grieve for a considerable time before going back to Britain with his two children. A statement was then read out in which it was revealed that the family barely had any strength to grieve. Amazingly, it was also disclosed that the London Metropolitan Police which was investigating the death of Ms Saldanha had assured her relatives that it would be a full and fair investigation. How does that work in real life? Have the British cops gone totally bonkers from political correctness?
No you can call me a cynic and cold-hearted bastard but I fail to see why the death of Nurse Saldanha, tragic though it is, has been given such prominence. There was absolutely no reason to devote wall-to-wall coverage to this story, producing endless weepy reports about the suicide. This was reporting at its worst. This was blowing a personal tragedy out of all proportion and somehow blaming the whole British nation for it. It was one thing raising questions about the conduct of the hospital’s management which probably did not handle the incident with the prank call all that well; but it was a totally different matter to make it look as if it were some giant upheaval that resulted in the tragic death of a woman.
Let’s get this straight: Nurse Saldanha was not some martyr or a victim of gross injustice. She got caught in an unfortunate chain of events and couldn’t handle the pressure. That was all.