“Great style never dates, it just gets better with age.”

Did Freedom Furniture have Alan Jones in mind when it came up with this advertising tagline? If so, it seems to have got that one wrong.

The cheap and cheerful homewares retailer has pulled its advertising from Jones’ show today over his comments about the death of Julia Gillard’s father. Similarly, sponsor Mercedes-Benz (slogan: “the power of serenity”) has dumped the radio king, whose company appears to be anything but serene.

And it’s at this point that the rubber hits the road for outspoken media figures. They can hack the reasoned criticism, the tut-tutting from regulators and the outrage from MPs, but when the dollars dry up things get serious. Remember that if you get pissed off with what someone says on air.

Gideon Haigh delves deep into the issue of media and money today, in the second chapter in his special investigation for Crikey: risky paywalls, rare philanthropy and the desperate search for new revenue streams. “News is business, and business is business – and right now, business is as bad as can be,” he writes.

Business is business, even for Jones. Radio is under as much pressure as any other media mode.

Haigh is looking far beyond the next Jones slur, however; he’s asking what the media will look like in 20 years. You might find his findings scary or unnerving — but if you look hard, there are grounds for optimism that strong, quality news media will survive. Long after Jones is gone.

Peter Fray

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Peter Fray
Editor-in-chief of Crikey