Advocate: Getting it wrong on their big day


Afghanistan Laurie, Erwin 450We acknowledge that the American-owned Centralian Advocate is 70 years old but their problem is that the Alice Springs News Online is 20 years ahead of them in online publishing.
That, not newsprint, is the dominant format for written journalism being consumed now and will be in the future.
It is unsurprising in their self-congratulatory edition today that all they can think of, in a hapless attempt to denigrate me, is to call me a “blogger and news enthusiast”, just as it is unsurprising that the Advocate is unaware of such a fundamental journalistic obligation as providing the right of reply.
What the Advocate says is of very little consequence and credibility. I am perfectly content with my recognition as a journalist by our readers – in the last 30 days, 16,162, and sometimes going as high as 22,000 (Google Analytics), making some five visits each and viewing up to 190,000 pages a month – as the Alice Springs News approaches its 25th anniversary (our printed weekly was founded in 1994).
In addition, I have earned that recognition in print and particularly in television news and current affairs, freelancing for all major Australian TV networks, and several in the USA, Japan, Austria and Germany. I produced thousands of reports, magazine and documentary stories for them, mostly from Central Australia, providing enormous exposure for the region.
Over the years I risked my life reporting from three war zones, and in a few hundred skydives doing freefall photography.
p2356 Erwin Henley 300Kieran Finnane, with the Alice Springs News since its inception, in addition to writing major reports for us, is the author of an admired book, Trouble, published by University of Queensland Press. She also contributes stories out of our region to major national journals.
Between us, Kieran and I have more than 70 years of journalism service to this community.
I enjoyed my 10 or years with the Advocate in its heyday, when I was Chief Reporter (the Advocate even got that wrong in their caption today).
I am not surprised that in today’s Advocate gallery of journalists such people as Jenny Brands, Jill Bottrall, Dave Richards, Kay Hartley and Louise Yaxley are missing. The current regime would have a lot of difficulty comparing themselves to that team of which I was a proud member.


PHOTOS: Reporting behind Soviet lines with my son, Laurie, embedded with Afghan mujahideen (the AK47s we’re holding are only for the picture); and getting close-ups at the Henley on Todd.


  1. Alice Springs News is a exactly what a newspaper should have:
    Integrity, vigorous standards of honesty,treating disputed issues with impartiality, providing a forum for divergent opinions, especially those differing from the paper’s editorial point of view.
    Accuracy: Exerting maximum effort to print the truth, promptly correcting errors of fact for which the newspaper is responsible.
    I read the Alice Springs News everyday with great pleasure. Keep up with the good work.
    Responsibility: Choosing news on the basis of its significance and usefulness to the public. Avoiding purely sensational or trivial new. Respecting rights of privacy.
    Leadership: Acting with courage in serving the public. Supporting efforts by public officials and individuals to do good works in the community. Serving as a constructive critic of government at all levels.

  2. Myself and I am sure the majority of thinking people with more than a passing interest in Alice Springs and Central Australia do appreciate your work and on going journalistic skills applied over the years to report on, facilitate and widen the discussion on local issues, important developments and news. Thank you Kieran and Erwin.

  3. Erwin and Kieran, I encountered your publication when living in Alice Springs and now appreciate your efforts as a link to a (now distant) very special and challenging place.
    Keep up the good work.

  4. You and Kieran are indeed ahead of your time. You have led the way in reporting with integrity and thoughtful research.
    Sadly your columns have been largely ignored by those who seek nothing but self promotion and I have seen first hand the difficulty that you have both experienced in encouraging open debate across many forums.
    You must have an interesting database. I often wondered why you never syndicated your journalism not only to broaden the readership but to force debate. I keep in touch from afar thanks to your online presence.
    Self Appointed Ambassador for Central Australia
    Paul Lelliott

  5. Paul Lelliott, Posted May 26, 2017 at 4:24 pm and others:
    Many thanks for your encouraging comments!
    We have a readership of around 18,000 (we always publish current monthly figures from Google Analytics – see this page). It’s the best in town.
    We have a searchable archive of around seven million words, reaching back to 1997. And we published, so far, just under 15,500 readers’ comments – many of them absolute treasures of information and analysis.
    Kieran and I also have a clientele of media buyers in Australia and overseas we’ve been supplying for 30 years. But our hearts are in Alice.
    We’re proud to be a forum for civilised debate. As for taking up the issues raised in our pages, well, you’ll have to talk to our leaders and those who elect them.
    All the best, and – Paul – keep up your ambassadorship!
    Erwin Chlanda, Editor.

  6. Good on you Erwin, continue to encourage debate on serious issues. If only the corporate press, who monopolise what we hear or read, would do the same.

  7. Well I’ve been here for 22 years. I been involved with newspapers for quite a few years before I got here. Never particularly liked the papers much due to their political bias.
    Never was really keen either even on Alice Springs News at first, (my ignorance) but the more I watched what was happening around the place and read the paper, I realised that we are very privileged to have it.
    It is one of the only newspapers around the world that is NOT politically driven or coerced by politics.
    They report FACTUAL information only, so that we the readers can make informed opinions.
    We are lucky to have a publication that genuinely cares about its readers and not paper sales. Suggest we all support this publication and give the respect it has earned and deserves.
    Keep up the great work Erwin.

  8. Am one of those lucky to have known Erwin about as long as he has been in Alice Springs.
    He has my long term respect, often admiration, for his ongoing international demonstration of excellence in journalism.
    Erwin, keep it up 😉

  9. The Advocate has never been the same since you left all those years ago, Erwin. The investigative part of journalism left with you.
    Read it in the “Darwin News” today and the Advocate next week is the current situation, papers not worth reading often.
    Like so many things of today, unfortunately the dollar rules!

  10. Congratulations to you both for providing us with really interesting news.
    Like us, I expect many people buy the Advocate for the TV programmes, which are frequently wrong. Their spelling is abysmal too!


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