Monday, October 1, 2012


The Alan Jones insanity continues to gain momentum, with several high profile advertisers pulling their support from Radio 2GB in the past 24 hours. Like thousands of others, I've signed my name to petitions; I've emailed companies that I buy from, and I've asked them to consider whether they want their brand name associated with 2GB. 

Half a dozen nationally known brand names have publicly disassociated themselves from Mr Jones; Woolworths, Freedom Furniture, Lexus of Parramatta, Challenger Financial Services, Captain Snooze, Dilmah and Mercedez Benz have pulled the plug. More will follow because this campaign has not peaked. 

One of my favourite tweeters is the ABC's Philip Adams. This morning he tweeted this dose of reality check: 
RT @PhillipAdamsABC: No dead parrot at 2GB. Look at Sandilands's career .0r Limbaugh's. sewer radio? Flows into rivers of bottom  ...
So far, Adams is right. 2DAY-FM was the target of a near-identical campaign when Kyle Sandilands displayed his complete lack of class by calling a journalist a "fat slag" on air. His faithful listeners didn't desert him, even though his advertisers did. He still has a job - the same job - and he still earns big money doing it. His on-air behaviour is monitored more rigorously, and the station has some extra conditions related to on-air standards attached to its licence.

In America, Glenn Beck and Rush Limbaugh have weathered similar campaigns. They are still on air, although Beck is no longer presenting his increasingly bizarre Fox News television show. New sponsors barely hesitated to backfill the gaps left when sponsors deserted Limbaugh after his comments about Sandra Fluke. Despite their extreme positions on all manner of issues from sexuality to the environment, they have audiences who follow them with near-religious fervour. Jones' pompous right wing blathering and Sandilands' unsophisticated "humour" have similarly loyal audiences.

Commentator and academic Peter van Onselen tweeted this today, as 2GB's advertisers started looking for their escape clauses:

RT @vanOnselenP: The best way anyone on social media can fight back at the likes of Alan Jones is to name and shame sponsors who stick with him...

We can do that, and we will. But why? What do we want to achieve? We could take the high moral high ground and wait for Mr Jones to make real apology, but it won't happen. He still believes he had every right to make those despicable comments in private. Personally, I'd be ashamed for just thinking that way. So right now, we're campaigning to add pressure, forcing advertisers to cut ties with 2GB on the assumption that if we hurt the mothership financially, it will cut Jones loose. It's working insomuch as advertisers are pulling out, yet what is the end game? What do we want to change? Do we want

hurt 2GB financially?
force 2GB to sanction or suspend Alan Jones?
force 2GB to sack Alan Jones?
force shock-jocks in general to raise their standards?
change Australia's attItude to media commentary?
raise the standard of public debate in Australia?

...or are we just creating a stink because Alan Jones has, again, stepped way over the line that divides what is acceptable and what is not, and we're angry. I can't speak for anyone else, but for me, it's no longer enough to participate in a group tantrum, have a little nap, and wake up a little less disappointed and a little less angry. 

Of course, when the offender is politically motivated, there's an additional layer of approvals and condemnation. A five-time failed Liberal candidate, Mr Jones' appalling comments about the Prime Minister's father have become politicised with members from each side blaming and shaming each other. While universally condemning Jones's words, some conservative politicians - Tony Abbott and Campbell Newman in particular - have been less than committed to distancing themselves from Jones. Karl Stefanovic is another who failed to cut his old friend loose. I suspect their regret is in line with Jones's remorse: he regrets being caught, he regrets the hullabaloo it's created, but his words remain in his heart.
Mr Jones own piece in today's News Limited publications have done his own cause more harm than good. Jones uses his "apology" to simultaneously attack the Prime Minister, while playing the victim because Ms Gillard won't take his calls.  

Recent experience suggests that we're getting good at making a noise when one of these serial radio offenders forgets to use his inside voice - and his brain. Nothing seems to change, though, and I'd suggest it's because we don't know what comes next...and that's because we don't know where we want to go. 

Think about it. Get serious for a minute. We already know we can effect change. We just don't know what to change. If you're not sure, take another step inside your mind. If you're angry with Alan Jones & 2GB, think about why....Then think about how to fix it. 

A campaign to hurt Jones' employers will be effective, if that's what we want. I want more. 

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