Daryl Ilbury

Archive for January, 2013|Monthly archive page

Footlong not a foot long? Remember this image.

In Eish!, Fools, Science on January 27, 2013 at 1:18 pm
Bam earthquakedecade_44

A man carries the bodies of his two sons who were killed when their home collapsed during an earthquake in Bam December 27, 2003, which killed more than 20,000 people. REUTERS/Caren Firouz

I was reminded of this image today when I read in the news that some pathetic imbeciles in the US had decided to sue Subway because they had bought a Subway Footlong roll that wasn’t exactly 12 inches (about 30cm) long…

I was on-air on the morning of 27th December 2003 when the reports started coming in about an earthquake in the ancient Silk Road city of Bam in Iran. As the host of a talk radio show I was acutely aware that traditionally that time of the year news is rather thin on the ground; and so in the days that followed the news was dominated by the unveiling horrors that would be expected whenever a severe earthquake strikes a populated area that is unprepared for such savage wrath of nature.

But it was this image, which appeared in one of the papers that found its way to my studio desk, that, in my mind, captured the true tragedy. It showed a man carrying the bodies of his two sons, killed in the earthquake, to the cemetery in Bora on the outskirts of Bam.

As a parent of two young children myself, I was deeply upset by the image; and so, over the following days, ensured my team provided regular coverage of the amazing work done by Dr Imtiaz Sooliman and his organisation The Gift of the Givers Foundation in providing food and relief work for those affected by the earthquake. We had regular crossings to Dr Sooliman in Bam and provided a conduit for donations and other offers of help for his organisation.

But I couldn’t shake the above image from my mind, and to this day it remains embedded in my conscience as a constant reality check whenever things seem to be going wrong; because nothing in the world could be worse than having to bury one’s own children.

And so it was that I was reminded of this image again today, and how pathetic some people are. Suing Subway because their Footlong rolls weren’t exactly 12 inches?! Now I admit I’m no whiz with dough, but I’d hazard a guess that baking rolls is not a science that enjoys lazer-guided precision.

It’s that other American favourite past-time (after eating fast food) – shooting guns – that does. Placing an 8mm round in the clip of a 9mm pistol is not going to get you sufficient pressure build up in the chamber to project the round far beyond the end of the barrel; and that’s no good when you’re shooting innocent children.

I think those who feel they have been wronged by life because a bread roll they’ve bought is a little short should have a serious look at the image above, then allow their thoughts to collect a little perspective. Those who have felt that the impact of buying such a roll are so calamitous that they need to institute legal action should rather spend their money helping organisations such as the Gift of the Givers. Lawyers don’t need the money. Survivors of natural catastrophes do.

The unfortunately unwritten rule of posting comments

In Fools, Scoundrels on January 22, 2013 at 3:59 pm

Taku2 was pleased with itself. Precious were its comments.

This is especially for you ‘bigboi’, ‘jenny27’, ‘TheRealDarthVader’ and ‘MagicTits’.

As someone who has worked across multiple media platforms and who writes for both print and online, I have to be both protective towards one and embracing of the other. I am old-school enough to feel the pain every time I hear of a newspaper in trouble and having to lay off journalists and staff, and at the same time I am new-school enough to get frustrated with those mainstream titles that are reticent to embrace the exciting opportunities of an online offering, such as the immediacy of reader comments.

When social media took off, it changed the relationship between printed media and the reader, because instead of the reader being purely a consumer of content, he or she could become a producer and disseminator of content – creating the concept of a prosumer. Importantly, the prosumer became empowered.

But that didn’t mean the prosumer was qualified to play in the big league…

Professional journalists have to work according to a set of rules, not least of which is being accountable for what we say. If I cross the line in an op-ed piece and skirt with libel, I am the one who gets sued. If I say something that people disagree with, they have the right to challenge me directly. If I report on something incorrectly and in the process cause someone disservice, the injured party has direct recourse and knows whom to contact to demand a correction or a retraction. This is why my (real) name is in the byline of everything I have ever written.

It is also why I, and many other journalists I know, accord no credence whatsoever to any comment posted by anyone who doesn’t use his or her (real) name. If you’re not willing to be accountable to what you have to say, don’t expect anyone to take what you say seriously.

It’s also a matter of respect towards the journalist.

‘bigboi’, ‘jenny27’, ‘TheRealDarthVader’ and ‘MagicTits’ may be great handles to use when you’re in a chat room for breathless fans of Justin Bieber, but if you want to be taken seriously in the big league, play by the rules.

Timeline of some of the apocalyptic predictions (that never happened)

In Fools, Scoundrels on January 9, 2013 at 5:07 pm

21 December 2012 came and went without event (no surprises there). But we’ve been here before. Often. The creative geniuses at OnlinePsychologyDegree.net take us down memory lane Badgets in Bed Infographic

Jacintha Saldanha – Radio’s ‘Diana’

In Eish!, Scoundrels on January 2, 2013 at 10:12 am

A small memorial to Jacintha Saldanha. Image: The Times

When I heard about the tragedy around Jacintha Saldanha – the nurse who was found dead after receiving a prank call from an Australian radio station – I knew I would soon start taking calls from people wanting my opinion on the matter. Most wanted to know if I agreed with their summation that the two broadcasters who made the prank call – Mel Greig and Michael Christian – were responsible for Jacintha’s death. They were all surprised when I said I didn’t, and were then shocked when I explained who was ultimately responsible.

To find out whom that is, we need to go back to the night of 31 August 1997, and the death of Diana, the Princess of Wales, following a car crash in the Pont de l’Alma tunnel in Paris. Her death was shocking for many reasons, but mostly because she was such a popular person; and therein lies a clue.

When someone dies under what is considered ‘tragic’ circumstances, and their death is carried in the media, there is invariable an outpouring of anger and grief, and with it a quest for causes and, ultimately, a measure of responsibility. A case in point is the recent tragedy in Newtown, Connecticut in the US and the killing of staff and children at the Sandy Hook Elementary School. It’s human to try and make sense of tragedy in an attempt to avert its future reoccurrence, and the best way to do that is to try and identify a chain of causal links. Read the rest of this entry »