Saturday, December 08, 2012

According to Chaos Theory, in some circumstances it's possible for a minuscule almost unnoticed event to result in devastating consequences. The usual example quoted is that of a butterfly flapping its wings which could, according to the theory, result in a hurricane weeks later on the other side of the globe. It's known as the Butterfly Effect.

So what has all this got to do with the BBC and other mainstream media?

Basically it is that the seemingly most insignificant word, report, prank or whatever has the potential to do harm.

How can this be avoided?

Put simply, we can't really stop this from happening. We can, perhaps, lessen the likelihood by saying and doing absolutely nothing, or at least being more cautious about what we do and thinking through the potential consequences of our actions.

Isn't it possible that the relentless reporting of what would otherwise have been a relatively harmless prank call to King Edward VII hospital might have put great pressure on the person who took the call - Jacintha Saldanha?

Interestingly Newsround did not mention the death of the nurse, perhaps because they appreciated that the news would upset their audience. On Wednesday Newsround reported the hospital had said sorry for divulging confidential patient information about the Duchess of Cambridge.

Today the hospital is shifting all blame to the Australians. BBC News channel reports, as its lead story, that the hospital's chairman has made a complaint "in the strongest possible terms."

But without King Edward VII hospital's management's misjudgement in employment and training practices, and without reporting of a trivial event by the 24-hour news media, Jacintha might still be alive.

A recent and unrelated prank by another Australian can be seen on Newsround's website.

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