Monday, 8 October 2012

There has been more vitriol

directed at broadcaster Alan Jones but, much more worryingly, at those who are seen to be "associated" with him - no matter how tenuously or for what reason.
Yes Alan Jones made insensitive and inappropriate comments about the Prime Minister's late father. We know that. He apologised. It may or may not have been sincere but an apology was made. That should have been an end to the matter.
Instead of that the Prime Minister has refused to accept the apology and her government has been using the matter to whip up something that is becoming more than a storm in a teacup.
In this they are being ably assisted by some sections of the media and a well orchestrated social-media campaign. Advertisers on Jones's radio show have been threatened unless they withdraw advertising - so many of them have. In tight economic times they simply cannot risk their advertising dollars being seen to support someone like Alan Jones. His show will now go to air without advertising.
The "punishment" of Alan Jones has now gone far beyond anything a court of law might have imposed if it had been a legal matter. At the most they would have ordered an apology and ordered he pay the costs and they may not even have done that.
The situation is simply being used by the government and the Labor supporting sections of the media. There have been ridiculous claims about who is responsible for the remarks which were made. There has been a barrage of hate-mail to the offices of opposition members of parliament and former members of parliament. If the comments made by Alan Jones were insensitive and and inappropriate many of these are worse, some of them amount to criminal libel.
Those sections of the media stirring up trouble would have you believe that they are whiter than freshly fallen snow. At the same time they are also stirring up more trouble with a "public interest" story of another sort. Sections of the Australian media are now camped outside a villa in Tuscany waiting for the opportunity to talk to the father of four girls and, if they can get away with it, the girls themselves. They believe that, if they are careful, they can get away with this intrusion into the private lives of a family torn apart by a custody dispute in which the mother deliberately flouted a court order. The more media attention given to the case the harder it will be for the girls to readjust to life at home because yes, Italy is home. They were born there. Their removal was against the law.
The story is not being told "in the public interest". It should not even be one of public interest. It should have remained a private affair. The media has turned it into a major international news story.
The Alan Jones affair was not told "in the public interest" either. It was an opportunistic act designed to "get Jones" and, when the potential was realised, to "get anyone associated with Jones".
I do not like what Alan Jones said and I doubt I could listen to his radio programme without cringing but efforts to get him off air are inappropriate. They are also dangerous. If they succeed it will do serious damage to everyone in the media, whatever their political persuasion.
If the media succeeds in getting their interviews with the Italian father and his daughters they will do serious damage in other ways.
I do not want to see the media regulated the way the government is proposing so why are they going down the very paths that will give the government the ammunition it needs to further restrict what the media can say?


the fly in the web said...

And it won't restrict for one moment the interference in family life that you will restrict proper investigative journalism, though I'm beginning to think that newspapers want that no more than does the government.

Anonymous said...

Fly in the web is right. It won't stop the outrageous way the Italian case was reported when it should not even have been mentioned in the media.
As for the Alan Jones affair I can't be bothered with the man but the "punishment" meted out by other sections of the media is totally disproportionate to the offence and the "guilt by association" rant is disgraceful. The Prime Minister is as guilty as he is - if not more so - because she is using his words to try and harm others.
Rob Cole from Sydney