.

  • Written by Denis Muller, Senior Research Fellow in the Centre for Advancing Journalism, University of Melbourne
The perception of Jones' power has led to him being courted by politicians, and so wielding actual power. AAP/Joel Carrett

Alan Jones’s political power is to a large extent based on a self-fulfilling prophecy: politicians believe he can shift votes, so they pay homage to him, which adds to the impression that he can shift votes.

This perception of power, in turn, gives him actual power.

Yet the author and social researcher Rebecca Huntley is reported as saying:

Fifteen years of research and I haven’t found Alan Jones to be that much more influential with voters than ABC Radio or The SMH. He is only powerful because politicians think he is.

So if evidence that he actually shifts votes is hard to find, how did this phenomenon develop?

Developments in media-political relations over the 34 years that Jones has been broadcasting give some pointers.

He was a pioneer in what has become known as the outrage industry. He rants and raves in extraordinarily fluent broadsides, captivating in their aural power and – to a listener of a certain type – intoxicatingly persuasive.

This listener is typically in the autumn of life and living in the western suburbs of Sydney, where a tough life has bred cynicism about politicians, bureaucrats and big companies.


Read more: Outrage, polls and bias: 2019 federal election showed Australian media need better regulation


Early on, Jones tapped into this sentiment, becoming the champion of what he called “Struggle Street”, although he himself lived in an apartment overlooking Circular Quay and the Opera House.

His ratings rose and so did his perceived capacity to win over the hearts and minds of Struggle Street.

By the late 1990s, companies that were on the nose with the public, like Telstra and some of the banks, began to see that he might be able to change public attitudes towards them, if his commentary about them could be made to look like his honestly held opinion.

In fact these commentaries were paid for, but this was not disclosed to the audience, and so in 1999 Jones, along with several other high-profile talkback hosts, were caught up in what became known as the cash-for-comment scandal.

Despite adverse findings against him by the regulator at the time, the Australian Broadcasting Authority, belief in his power to sway audiences remained undiminished.

A few weeks after these findings were announced, he hosted an event for then Liberal Prime Minister John Howard, and dined with the NSW Labor Premier, Bob Carr, to discuss matters of government policy.

The following week, Carr sent his Police Minister-designate, Michael Costa, to discuss policing policy with Jones.

At Radio 2UE, where Jones was then working, the revenue generated not just by conventional advertising but by the cash-for-comment arrangements, had made Jones’s position there impregnable.

And when he switched to 2GB in 2002, he became an instant rainmaker for his new station, and equally impregnable there, free of management constraints and therefore in a position to play favourites and create enmities with whomever he chose.

His core audience – those on “Struggle Street – were then given special attention by the prime minister, and came to be known as "Howard’s battlers”.

For the entirety of his prime ministership, from 1996 to 2007, Howard made a point of cultivating Jones, and became a favourite. A former colleague of Jones, Mike Carlton, has been quoted as saying that there was allegedly an operative in Howard’s office dedicated to working on what were called “Jones issues”.

Whether this was true or not, Howard became a regular guest on the Jones program, saying it gave him a chance to speak directly to the Australian people rather than having his message filtered by sceptical journalists.

A prime ministerial imprimatur of this kind is calculated to increase perceptions of political power.

Then, just as Howard was departing office in 2007, the phenomenon of social media was gaining momentum in Australia.

It turbo-charged the outrage industry, and Jones was skilled up to take advantage of this new libertarian free-for-all.

He had already been found in 2005 to have breached the radio industry code of practice by inciting violence against people of Middle Eastern ethnicity in a series of incendiary broadcasts leading up to the race riots at Cronulla that year.

But as usual, the broadcasting regulator, now called the Australian Media and Communications Authority, contented itself with entering into a “dialogue” with 2GB.

Then, in 2012, he gave encouragement to the idea that Julia Gillard should be put in a chaff bag and dumped at sea. Once more there were no consequences.

And now, in 2019, he is encouraging Scott Morrison – already known as the 2GB Prime Minister – to shove a sock down the throat of the New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern.

Three strikes, but still not out.

Finally, however, there is a sign the 2GB management might have begun to ask themselves whether Jones has outlived his profitability.

They have warned him that one more rant like that and they will terminate his contract.

It cannot just be that a swag of big advertisers have abandoned the Jones program. This has happened in the past when he has committed some atrocity, but they drift back after the hue and cry has died down.


Read more: Sexist abuse has a long history in Australian politics – and takes us all to a dark place


However, last year Jones cost the station A$3.75 million in defamation damages, plus millions more in legal costs after he wrongly and persistently accused the owners of a quarry in the Queensland town of Grantham of causing the deaths of local people who died in the 2011 floods.

At the time of writing, Macquarie Media, which owns 2GB, is being purchased by Nine Entertainment, which already owns the Nine TV network and the big mastheads of the old Fairfax company, The Age, The Sydney Morning Herald and the Australian Financial Review.

It may be that this takeover will add a reputational dimension to the assessment of Jones’s value to shareholders.

If Jones does finally come to grief, it will be because of considerations like these, not because of any damage he does to the social fabric.

Denis Muller does not work for, consult, own shares in or receive funding from any company or organisation that would benefit from this article, and has disclosed no relevant affiliations beyond their academic appointment.

Authors: Denis Muller, Senior Research Fellow in the Centre for Advancing Journalism, University of Melbourne

Read more http://theconversation.com/it-will-be-money-not-morality-that-finally-turns-the-tide-on-alan-jones-122051

Primary Questions to Ask Yourself Before Choosing an Office Space in Philadelphia

Choosing your first office space is thrilling. The excitement of finally setting up your own office is so satisfying. When you start scouting around to select your office space, there are so many fa...

Sarah Williams - avatar Sarah Williams

Freedom And Flexibility - How A Virtual Office Allows For Greater Adaptability

Being able to adapt to changing circumstances and economic conditions is essential in business. For entrepreneurs and startups who want to maximise their chances of success regardless of outside cir...

News Company - avatar News Company

Eat your heart out: native water rats have worked out how to safely eat cane toads

Water rats in Western Australia are safely hunting cane toads. Author providedAustralia’s water rats, or Rakali, are one of Australia’s beautiful but lesser-known native rodents. And these...

Marissa Parrott, Reproductive Biologist, Wildlife Conservation & Science, Zoos Victoria, and Honorary Research Associate, BioSciences, University of Melbourne - avatar Marissa Parrott, Reproductive Biologist, Wildlife Conservation & Science, Zoos Victoria, and Honorary Research Associate, BioSciences, University of Melbourne

Curious Kids: where do phobias come from?

Phobias are an intense fear of very specific things like objects, places, situations or animals. ShutterstockIf you have a question you’d like an expert to answer, send it to curiouskids@theconv...

Lara Farrell, Associate Professor and Clinical Psychologist, Griffith University - avatar Lara Farrell, Associate Professor and Clinical Psychologist, Griffith University

Best Family-Friendly Zoos In America

Zoos have always been part of family travel destinations. This is where your kids get to see the animals that they only often see on their books. Visiting one also provides a learning experience for...

News Company - avatar News Company

Activists are using the climate emergency as a new legal defence to justify law-breaking

The phrase “climate emergency” became part of the political lexicon this year. Governments at all levels made declarations of a climate emergency, as did various organisations such as the ...

Nicole Rogers, Senior lecturer, School of Law and Justice, Southern Cross University - avatar Nicole Rogers, Senior lecturer, School of Law and Justice, Southern Cross University

Don't tear it down: the idea behind Labor's National Rental Affordability Scheme is worth saving

The Grattan Institute has condemned the National Rental Affordability Scheme as a $1 billion windfall to developers. www.shutterstock.comLabor’s Rudd-era National Rental Affordability Scheme (NR...

Marcus Luigi Spiller, Associate Professor (Urban Planning) - honorary  , University of Melbourne - avatar Marcus Luigi Spiller, Associate Professor (Urban Planning) - honorary , University of Melbourne

City share-house rents eat up most of Newstart, leaving less than $100 a week to live on

Even when sharing a house, the average cost of rent means very little is left over from the Newstart allowance for food and living costs. shutterstock.comIn all Australia’s capital cities, avera...

Simone Casey, Research Associate, Future Social Service Institute, RMIT University - avatar Simone Casey, Research Associate, Future Social Service Institute, RMIT University

Users (and their bias) are key to fighting fake news on Facebook – AI isn't smart enough yet

On its own, human judgement can be subjective and skewed towards personal biases. The information we encounter online everyday can be misleading, incomplete or fabricated. Being exposed to “fa...

Gianluca Demartini, Associate professor, The University of Queensland - avatar Gianluca Demartini, Associate professor, The University of Queensland

Fairest and best? Status counts in the Brownlow Medal

Tonight is the AFL’s annual night of nights, the red-carpet spectacular known as the Brownlow Medal vote count. The Brownlow is awarded to the season’s “fairest and best” play...

Liam Lenten, Senior Lecturer, Department of Economics and Finance, La Trobe University - avatar Liam Lenten, Senior Lecturer, Department of Economics and Finance, La Trobe University

How Australians talk about tucker is a story that'll make you want to eat the bum out of an elephant

Wes Mountain/The Conversation, CC BY-NDNot to put a damper on things, but Australian food hasn’t always made us happy little Vegemites. One needn’t look further than the humble meat pie ...

Howard Manns, Lecturer in Linguistics, Monash University - avatar Howard Manns, Lecturer in Linguistics, Monash University

In a chatty world, losing your speech can be alienating. But there's help

People who have trouble with their speech, say after a stroke, can find it challenging. But a speech pathologist can help. from www.shutterstock.comSam is a high school drama teacher — articulat...

Kirrie J Ballard, Professor, Speech Pathology, University of Sydney - avatar Kirrie J Ballard, Professor, Speech Pathology, University of Sydney

From crime fighters to crime writers - a new batch of female authors brings stories that are closer to home

In Dervla McTiernan’s book, The Scholar, published earlier this year, women are consistently used as the “fall guys” for men with high aspirations. Two young women are killed when th...

Lili Pâquet, Lecturer in Writing, University of New England - avatar Lili Pâquet, Lecturer in Writing, University of New England

10 ways to get the most out of silent reading in schools

Children need time and space to enjoy the books they choose to read in schools. Shutterstock/wavebreakmediaReading aloud can help young children learn about new words and how to sound them. There&rsqu...

Margaret Kristin Merga, Senior Lecturer in Education, Edith Cowan University - avatar Margaret Kristin Merga, Senior Lecturer in Education, Edith Cowan University

'Edible forests' can fight land clearing and world hunger at the same time

A Nepalese woman collects mushroom in a forest. Jagannath Adhikari, Author providedReducing emissions from deforestation and farming is an urgent global priority if we want to control climate change. ...

Jagannath Adhikari, Sessional Lecturer, UNSW - avatar Jagannath Adhikari, Sessional Lecturer, UNSW

Comic explainer: young disabled New Zealanders on the barriers to a better life

Our research project explored the everyday lives of disabled young people, aged from 12 to 25 years, with mobility, vision and hearing impairments. We measured and asked them about factors that enable...

Penelope Carroll, Researcher in Public Health, Massey University - avatar Penelope Carroll, Researcher in Public Health, Massey University

View from The Hill: To go to China you have to be invited: Morrison

Scott Morrison was frank, when quizzed at a news conference during his visit to Washington, on whether he would be seeking to travel to China in the next year. “Well, you have to be invited to ...

Michelle Grattan, Professorial Fellow, University of Canberra - avatar Michelle Grattan, Professorial Fellow, University of Canberra

VIDEO: Michelle Grattan on the family law inquiry - and the UN climate change summit

University of Canberra Deputy Vice-Chancellor Leigh Sullivan discusses Scott Morrison’s new family law inquiry with Michelle Grattan. They also speak of the developments in the Tamil family from...

Michelle Grattan, Professorial Fellow, University of Canberra - avatar Michelle Grattan, Professorial Fellow, University of Canberra

Climate explained: why don't we have electric aircraft?

CC BY-ND Climate Explained is a collaboration between The Conversation, Stuff and the New Zealand Science Media Centre to answer your questions about climate change. If yo...

Dries Verstraete, Senior Lecturer in Aerospace Design and Propulsion, University of Sydney - avatar Dries Verstraete, Senior Lecturer in Aerospace Design and Propulsion, University of Sydney

Sick and Tired of Your Dead End Job? Try Teaching!

Tired of the same old grind at the office? Want an opportunity to impact lives both in your community and around the world? Do you love to travel and have new experiences? Teaching English is the perfect job for you! All you need is a willingness to ...

News Company - avatar News Company

The Impact of an Aging Population in Australia

There’s an issue on the horizon that Australia needs to prepare for. The portion of elderly citizens that make up the country’s overall population is increasing, and we might not have the infrastructure in place to support this. Australians h...

News Company - avatar News Company

LifeStyle

Yvonne Allen: Eight ways to super impress someone on a first date

According to Yvonne Allen well known relationship mentor, psychologist and matchmaker, a first dat...

Picking The Right Crystal Yoni Egg: Tips And Instructions

When you are ready to pick your own crystal yoni egg, you need to decide what you will use it for...

Top 5 Tips for Paddleboarding In Whitewater

Paddleboarding can be relaxing as well as intense. If you occasionally want to do something differen...

3 Most Promising Career Occupations for Graduates in 2019

Studying in college is a great adventure which opens up lots of career opportunities. Yet, at times...