JONES, CAROLINE MARY NEWMAN
Caroline Jones is a writer, journalist and broadcaster who has had a 50-year association with the ABC. She was raised in the NSW town of Murrurundi. Her grandfather, Ashley Needham Pountney (1868–1938), was editor of some of the first newspapers in northern New South Wales.
Although she studied a number of subjects at university, she did not complete a degree, and says she was ‘conscious of my lack of education’. But she was noted for her drive and exhaustive preparation. In the 1960s, she gained a part-time traineeship at the ABC in Canberra. In 1968, she was invited to join the ABC’s This Day Tonight as the team’s first female reporter. In 1972, she joined Four Corners as a reporter/presenter and was the first woman in Australia to anchor a current affairs television show. The following year, she won a Logie Award for Outstanding Contribution to Television Journalism.
Of this period, she says: ‘I like working with men. I became one of the boys quite easily, playing snooker, drinking middies and smoking thin black Danish cigars.’
From 1977 to 1981, concurrently with her Four Corners commitment (1972–81), she anchored the morning program for 2BL (now 702 ABC Sydney). She was invited to join the original 60 Minutes reporting team in 1979 but declined.
From 1987 to 1994, Jones presented the ground-breaking The Search for Meaning on ABC Radio National. The program reflected a significant shift in her own interests, away from the conventional ‘adversarial’ interview techniques of hard-hitting television current affairs to the approach characterised as ‘confessional’, which she pioneered in Australia. On The Search for Meaning, hundreds of Australians told intimate stories of their lives and their spiritual or personal development through those experiences.
The Search for Meaning was a catalyst for the development of ABC Television’s Australian Story, which debuted in May 1996. Since then, Jones has been the regular presenter and a specialist contributor to Australian Story. She is the ‘public face’ of the popular program.
Jones is author of several books, including An Authentic Life: Finding Meaning and Spirituality in Everyday Life (1998) and Through a Glass Darkly: A Journey of Love and Grief with My Father (2009).
In 1988–89, Jones worked with the Central Australian Aboriginal Media Association on the development of current affairs television programs. In 1988 she was appointed AO, in 1997 she was voted one of Australia’s National Living Treasures and in 2007 she was awarded an honorary doctorate by the University of the Sunshine Coast.
In 2013—the year she was awarded the Walkley Award for Outstanding Contribution to Journalism—Jones became the patron of the newly formed Women in Media, set up by the Media, Entertainment and Arts Alliance and the Walkley Foundation.