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Jonestown: The Power and the Myth of Alan Jones

Jonestown: The Power and The Myth of Alan Jones is a controversial 2006 biography of radio personality Alan Jones by Chris Masters. The biography deals in part with Jones' sexuality; Masters asserts that Jones is homosexual, something that Jones does not self-identify with. Masters began Jonestown in 2002 after profiling Jones for an episode of the current affairs program Four Corners.

Nominations and Awards

Nominations

The book was nominated for the 2006 Douglas Stewart Prize for non-fiction for its "depth of research, fluency of narrative and professional engagement."

Awards

The book won the Australian Book Industry Awards, Australian Biography of the Year 2007

Controversy

ABC Enterprises announced on 29 June 2006 that it was canceling the publication of Masters' manuscript; ABC Enterprises director Robyn Watts stated that this was because it would "almost certainly result in commercial loss, which would be irresponsible". This statement was widely believed to be a veiled reference to the fact that Jones' lawyers had threatened an expensive defamation lawsuit if the book reached publication. ABC program Media Watch reported that the decision to cancel publication had been made not by ABC Enterprises but by the ABC Board. Many ABC personalities criticized the Board's decision, and a petition against the decision circulated, with signatories including ABC radio personalities Richard Glover and Phillip Adams.

Mike Carlton, Jones' rival Sydney radio broadcaster, suggested on 2UE in his show on 5 July 2006 that the book might detail homosexual encounters on Jones' part and Jones' lawyers had told the ABC that Masters' materials were "replete with false and inappropriate sexual innuendo".

In the introduction to Jonestown, Masters describes Jones as having concealed his sexuality "more for the sake of preserving a dishonest power base" than for reasons of personal privacy, an explanation he repeated later when accused of being motivated by prurience. Additionally, Masters advances the theory that Jones' attempt to mask his sexuality is a defining feature of his personality and provides an explanation for many aspects of his behaviour. In the book's final chapter, Masters quotes a study performed by Roy Morgan Research that reported that "46% of [Jones'] listeners believe that homosexuality is immoral, compared to 35% of all Australians." Masters' attempts to explain so much about Jones by reference to his sexuality leaves Masters open to charges of homophobia, which conservative commentators, ironically defending Jones' reputation, exploited.

The ABC's decision not to publish the book did not delay it for long; Publisher Allen & Unwin Australia released it in October 2006. The book sold 12,700 copies and earned almost AU$600,000 in its first 6 days since publication - allowing it to top the bestseller list.

On 20 October 2006, The Sydney Morning Herald published a seven-page edited extract of Jonestown. The extracts, with italicised links by former Media Watch host and author David Marr, concentrated largely on claims that Jones was homosexual, his questionable behaviour while the senior English master at The King's School at Parramatta in Sydney and a "cottaging" incident in London. The lead paragraph makes Masters' claim that the masking of his homosexuality is "a defining feature of the Jones persona".

James Packer has vehemently stood by Jones who is also affiliated with the Nine Network for his editorials. Jones' radio colleague and close friend Ray Hadley went on record on-air, saying that he and Jones have been close friends for more than 20 years and that the book was written by someone who has not met Jones personally. Masters details his meetings towards the beginning of the book.

The Chaser team have a signed copy of Jonestown, "probably the only signed copy of Jonestown by Alan Jones," and Julian Morrow stated on The Chaser's War on Everything that they intended to "auction it off to raise money for troubled homosexuals."

In a review in The Australian, David Flint says that "Masters is entitled to investigate and challenge Jones's influence and role, but he is not entitled to intrude into his private life based on purloined correspondence, amateur psychoanalysis and irresponsible journalism. No wonder the ABC board wrote off the public money poured into this vengeful project by the nomenklatura. The result is no credit to its author, its publishers and the two newspapers that featured the most salacious bits."

External links

References

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