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TV & Radio

Oct 18, 2012

Alan Jones' new porkies test: fact-checker for shock jock

Alan Jones will go back to school on checking his facts and have his editorial copy subbed for errors before being broadcast under new measures from ACMA.

Alan Jones’ editorial comments will be fact-checked before going to air, under a deal struck between 2GB management and the Australian Communications and Media Authority.

The controversial broadcaster will also undergo training to ensure his on-air statements are factually accurate and that he understands the Commercial Radio Codes of Practice.

2GB, Sydney’s top-rating network, will also have to make greater efforts to ensure the station presents a range of viewpoints on controversial issues of public importance.

The agreement — detailed by ACMA this morning — tops off a torrid month for Jones, whose show has been hit by an advertiser exodus following public uproar about his statement that Prime Minister Julia Gillard’s father died of shame. Earlier this month, the Administrative Appeals Tribunal ordered Jones to apologise on air and in writing for describing Lebanese Muslims in Sydney as “vermin” and “mongrels” in 2005.

The 2GB/ACMA deal follows a June finding that Jones breached the broadcasting code by claiming human beings produce only 0.001% of the carbon dioxide in the atmosphere. ACMA found that statement, made on air in 2011, was unsubstantiated and 2GB had not made “reasonable efforts” to ensure its accuracy.

2GB admitted to the media watchdog that “no research was conducted by staff and that Mr Jones researched the figures himself”. A 2GB review subsequently found the station does have fact-checking measures in place, but that Jones’ editorial pieces do not always include the involvement of his wider editorial team.

Jones was also found guilty of breaching accuracy requirements in 2009 comments about a missing Irish national and 2010 comments about native vegetation.

Among the measures to be implemented by 2GB are:

  • Pre-broadcast fact-checking, by the program’s executive producer, of any material provided by third parties and any editorial pieces scripted by Jones.
  • Identification, by the executive producer, of controversial issues of public importance that are not covered by other 2GB current affairs programs.
  • Communication of these exceptions to 2GB’s program director who will then be responsible to ensure that another current affairs program presents an alternative significant viewpoint to that presented in the program hosted by Jones so that 2GB can discharge its obligations under the codes.
  • Creation and retention (for at least six weeks) of records of the verification material sourced by the executive producer for the facts contained in the editorial pieces.
  • Training will be conducted (including with Jones) focusing on the ACMA findings concerning factual accuracy and significant viewpoints.

2GB has not responded to Crikey‘s requests for comment.

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44 comments

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44 thoughts on “Alan Jones’ new porkies test: fact-checker for shock jock

  1. Jim McDonald

    Journalism 101!

  2. 39loulou

    So what happens when Jones (which we know he’ll do) talks off the cuff, in an unscripted manner and gets the facts wrong?

  3. moonkid

    @39loulou: If they delayed broadcast by a minute, they could bleep out all his non-factual facts!

  4. Venise Alstergren

    There’s no way Alan Jones will stick to the new rules. He’s a vindictive old triss with a shocking temper and no self restraint.

    Ah, the times are a changin’ old färt.

  5. frey

    That’s true moonkid, but a 3-hour long continuous bleep may annoy the audience somewhat.

    Of course, it will be then construed as an attack on Alan’s freedom of speech….

  6. ianjohnno1

    Jones will just tell his listeners (dripping with sarcasm) that what he is saying has been fact-checked, which will indicate that the real facts are what they want to believe.

  7. Andrew McIntosh

    What’s their definition of “facts”, by the way?

  8. John

    Any volunteers to be Mr Jones’ fact-checker?

  9. Venise Alstergren

    JOHN: Here are a couple of suggestions…..Geewhizz and his female counterpart. (I’ve forgotten her name.}

  10. botswana bob

    Who will be employed as his “fact checker”? Cory Bernardi??
    All he has to do to become a certified Murdoch journo is start hacking other peoples’ voice mail.

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