Jonestown: The power and the myth of Alan Jones
Allen & Unwin, $49.95 hb, 527 pp, 174175156X
This is, of course, a much-awaited biography. Its subject, the commercial broadcaster Alan Jones, has long been a contentious figure. While some believe his influence over his audience has actually determined the outcomes of certain state and federal elections, others believe that this influence is a self-perpetuated myth that Sydney-siders should repudiate. Chris Masters, the author, is something of a local icon; one of the most respected and fearless of Australian television journalists, whose professional integrity is widely acknowledged. There are, however, significant obstacles in the way of any independent public analysis of Jones’s political influence. Heavily constrained by corporate considerations, Masters’s 2001 Four Corners story on Jones was only able to scratch the surface of what is interesting about the broadcaster. The ABC’s eleventh-hour decision not to publish the book version was all the more depressing for its predictability and timidity. Nonetheless, it is also clear that, no matter how careful the author and his publisher, the likelihood of court challenges was always going to be high. No surprise, then, that the eventual publication of Jonestown: The Power and the Myth of Alan Jones produced headlines as well as comment.