Modia Minotaur

Trawling the airwaves to spare you the agony!

Thursday, July 06, 2006

The Alan Jones Syndrome

The Emperor's new clothes are off, and the things people have only whispered about previously are out in the open. It's a good demonstration of exactly how indivisible the media has become from politics.

Michael Costa, in a very silly move, has resurrected an issue that everyone had already forgotten about and sued Nova 96.9 for defamation after a prostitute claimed on air that he was a client of hers. The irony of this is, of course, that very few people knew it was Costa that the woman had mentioned, while now everybody does.

Meanwhile, following revelations on this week's Media Watch that ABC Board made the decision to axe `Jonestown', 2UE's Mike Carlton has enunciated what anyone who has ever listened to his `Friday News Review' knows he believes: that Alan Jones is homosexual, or at very least, has had homosexual relationships. 2GB's response to this was puerile - focusing mainly on the fact that Carlton's show gets lower ratings than Jones' does.

An interesting article in today's Sydney Morning Herald which looks at the increase in regulation since the Howard Government has brought in since its election, despite paying lip service to the notion of `small government', suggests an increasing number of regulations are prompted by media outcry. Ironically, this phenomena is described as `the Alan Jones syndrome'. The current Big Brother furore is a good example, with Communications Minister Helen Coonan now discussing government regulation of streaming video as a direct result. At best, such behaviour takes advantage of the public mood to push through valuable changes. At worst - and this is the way it tends to lean - governments make kneejerk legislative reactions to stories that everyone - Alan Jones and the Daily Telegraph - would have forgotten about in a week. The raft of new law-and-order legislation that came in after the Cronulla riots is one example of legislation catering to public opinion rather than doing much to solve the problem that caused the fracas in the first place.

To quote the article:
Effective leadership entails risk-taking and cannot be regulated away, the British Prime Minister, Tony Blair, said in a speech last year calling for a reduction in over-government and regulation. Calling for "a sensible debate about risk in public policy making", he said governments had become risk-averse due to pressure from the media and the combative political system.

In the face of rapid technological change, people wanted more certainty and they turned to governments to provide it, Blair said. "A natural but wrong response is to retreat in the face of this change, to regulate to eliminate risk, to restrict rather than enable."

His solution is a different response to public pressure: "Instead of the 'something must be done' cry that goes up every time there is a problem or a 'scandal', we make make it clear we will reflect first and regulate only after reflection."


The pressure on governments, and more recently, the board of the ABC (not to mention the management of Channel 9), to stamp out short term spot fires rather than making courageous, gutsy decisions that will have a greater long term benefit is stronger than ever. The real shame is that in many cases, the agenda is determined by figures such as John Laws and Alan Jones. Perhaps Jones now realises the uncomfortable feeling of having the agenda pulled from under him. More likely - unlike Michael Costa - he will push on as if nothing has happened, to ensure the agenda ends up back in his hands.

Former Media Watch producer David Salter continues on the theme of the ABC Board's cowardice at The Australian.

10 Comments:

At 11:08 am, Anonymous Guy said...

Great minds. ;)

You were a bit more expansive in your post, but I think we're more or less barking around the same tree.

 
At 11:20 am, Blogger Minotaur said...

Yes - I noticed yours just after I posted mine. Consider this the `Guy says more over at Polemica that should have been in the main article :)

 
At 1:04 pm, Blogger Milltown Pete said...

What a pity that the key character and his gullible followers do not appear to be about to suffer the same fate as those in the original Jonestown.

 
At 4:22 pm, Blogger Armagnac Esq. said...

BTW you made the sealed section of crikey today with this article, just letting you know...

 
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