Monday, November 27, 2006
HOW TO TELL THE NEXT OF KIN
I was listening to Radio 4 last night when an interesting discussion came on. The topic was a news announcement made on 11-11-06 on the BBC World Service about some soldiers killed on a boat in Iraq. A soldier's mother had written in complaining that because the names of the dead were withheld, this broadcast had unnecessarily panicked the families of all service personnel in Iraq. She offered 2 solutions: 1) The BBC should withhold such news until after the next of kin are told, 2) The names of the service personnel should be released with the broadcast as although that would upset those involved, it would instantly calm everyone else and those who were about to be told the worst were about to be told it anyway! Number 1 was instantly ruled out because another member of the global media would simply beat the BBC to releasing the news. That left 2.This brough back very personal memories to me of 1990. I was driving my brother through Glasgow having just put my parents on a plane to Malta to celebrate their 25th wedding anniversary. On the Radio Clyde news came the announcement that a pensioner was critically ill after a house fire in Glasgow, when the pensioner's name, William Buchanan, was said on air I nearly crashed the car. I had to stop and try to believe my ears. My grandfather had been critically injured in an accident and I was being told by the radio while at the wheel of a car. After visiting my grandfather in hospital, the realisation of what had happen hit me. I rang the radio station and went mad. I was told that they had tried to contact Granda's next of kin, dad, and been told he was abroad. Instead of contacting the next next of kin, myself, the information had been released to the radio. Believe me, it is not something you want to hear while driving a car.