Jones the jaunty journo

At the risk of sounding like an acolyte of Australia’s dreadful tall poppy syndrome, there was still a lot of glee to be had from the comeuppance delivered this week to shock jock, Alan Jones, by the Australian Communications and Media Authority (ACMA).

Jones is the patriarch of radio’s version of tabloid journalism and delivers a daily dose of shock, horror and scandal to his large and loyal following. The guy is unarguably a legend with a remarkable resume. But that does not necessarily make him a nice person.

He might well be, in the bosom of his family and his coterie of close friends. But to anyone whose views he disagrees with, Jones can be more ominous than an assassin. His capacity to flense and fillet foes is fearsome. For verbal acuity he has few peers. Sadly, his abilities have been bastardised by bullying.

Some allowance can be made that Jones is a performer, much as an actor on stage, and he delivers a very specific persona that his audience clearly loves. Yet the tools of his trade ensure that Jones is the master of his ring. Opponents rarely get the chance to land a telling blow and even if they sting, Jones can minimise the damage by simply ending their call or closing their microphone. He does so with ruthless despatch.

So, when ACMA this week ordered him to undergo basic journalism training, we can but imagine his chagrin. Knowing that legions of enemies will be laughing behind their hands at his discomfiture must be causing some horrendous grinding of the Jones’ molars.

As one of the very highest-paid ‘journalists’ in the nation, Jones will be mightily miffed by the media watchdog’s public humiliation of him. His punishment is to learn how to canvass a range of alternative viewpoints on his program and not just offer his own opinions as fact.

Jones incurred ACMA’s wrath way back in 2010 and 2011 with claims about the extent of human influence on carbon dioxide in the air. He suggested it was way below accepted scientific data. Not such a dreadful crime in itself, is it? Guess Jones is paying the price for all his customary blather and bluff.

Frankly, ACMA deserves a clip under the ear just as much as Jones. To take this long to rule on a transgression that is now two years old is pathetic. Justice delayed is justice denied.

Still, it will be interesting to see if Jones actually changes his style at all (don’t hold your breath, folks, asphyxiation is unpleasant). All in all yet another tempest in a teacup and one which simply gets the Jones’ name bandied around in the media once more. Thanks for nothing ACMA, you have not done us proud.