Seven million word archive now focus of the News

49
53206

UPDATE 6/2/2022

After nearly three decades the Alice Springs News will, as of today, cease active research and reporting. However, we will maintain open access to the seven million word archive built up over the paper’s lifetime.

As with hundreds of other newspapers around the world, print and digital, we have succumbed to the loss of advertising revenue, much of it now flowing to American social media.

And disappointingly, there has been insufficient support from the local community which did not match with cash its praise for our journalism. We express our deep gratitude here to those advertisers and donors who have been the exceptions.

We are proud that the News became a platform for some of the town’s best writing and thinking, as the archive amply demonstrates. It is widely used as a source of information and insights about The Centre. In keeping it accessible online, we will retain and protect its copyright.

Our decision, which has been a long time coming really, is another blow to independent journalism in the Territory. The Darwin based NT Independent recently announced it “is still a long way from becoming financially sustainable and we need your help to survive. It’s crunch time as we approach our second birthday, [We] must make the hard decision of whether to keep it alive.”

In Alice Springs the Murdoch-owned Centralian Advocate, founded in 1947, closed its doors in 2020.

So, sadly, with our decision today the town will no longer have a written word news medium for mass consumption.

We will continue to moderate the spontaneously created discussion place, which you can find on the right hand side of the home page, the front page, for as long as possible. It is clear proof that the town’s people want a high-quality platform for debate, such as we have offered.

Navigate the archive by using the search window below the masthead.

Our interest in and commitment to The Centre remain undiminished, so we’ll look forward to seeing you around.

Erwin Chlanda and Kieran Finnane (pictured above).

 

UPDATE 25/1/2022

Sorry, readers, no news yet on the future of the Alice Springs News except that the pacemaker is in Erwin’s chest and there is spontaneous discussion about a variety of subjects in our readers’ comments section.

We continue to moderate it. We proudly consider that public response to be a sign that the town recognises the need for our newspaper.

PHOTO: Senior Writer KIERAN FINNANE and Editor ERWIN CHLANDA.

 

By ERWIN CHLANDA

The four of us got ready to board a friend’s Cessna. “Got your pacemaker?”

Cheeky bugger. Freefall ageism. “It will never happen to me,” I thought.

I was in my fifties and on that skydive we performed three formations at 250 km/h.

Famous last words. I am now 76 and in 15 days’ time I am going to get a pacemaker. Me and the Alice Springs News.

And this is where I am apologising to our readers for the sparseness of editorial content in recent times, a problem taking much longer to fix than expected.

I hope you will take into account that the important letters and reader comments have been maintained (see recent buffel and domestic solar power stories), and we kept abreast with a range of stories, including the Rolfe trial developments, the Singleton water licence, the Yuendumu crime wave, the recent record rains and the passing of H. Furber.

The town’s most trusted gardening advice, from veteran Geoff Miers, has also continued to appear.

Now we are working hard towards regaining our momentum.

The News routine has always been to deal immediately with the stories we decide to take on board: Expressed as an example, we take the stone, put a fine file on it, make sure the edges are sharp and fit it into the puzzle where it explains or entertains. And then it’s on to the next story.

That has remained our intention all along but fatigue and medical procedures have taken up time and energy.

However, there was always our eight million word archive of stories we assigned,  researched and wrote over nearly 30 years. And the evidence is that readers continue to take advantage of it.

The Jewels in the Crown are contributions by people such as Mike Gillam, Alex Nelson, Peter Latz, Fiona Walsh, Dick Kimber, and our own staff writer and reviewer Kieran Finnane. This rich archive is of course available 24/7 and free from a paywall.

Recent discussions, including a public meeting of about 40 people, toyed with some fanciful ideas around starting a new printed newspaper.

As I understand it, one proposal at that public meeting was that the Mayor or the council could produce a ‘newspaper’ which could consist of just one page so long as the funeral notices could be clearly seen.

The role of independent journalism in a democracy seemed to get no consideration. As we have always seen it, this is about providing people with the information they need to make decisions about their lives, holding governments to account, and offering stories that are a reflection of the town’s history, identity, and challenges.

With its new heart (and with Kieran taking leave to work on other projects), the News will be looking for middle-level journalistic staff, and for someone to manage the commercial operation, whose potential has not yet been fully tapped. Ring Erwin on 0418 890040.

Meanwhile, continue to enjoy your Alice Springs News as we ease into our summer “Rest & Reflection” period. Your contributions to what we offer, as in previous years, are most welcome. Looking to revive at our usual end of January date.

PHOTO: Kieran and Erwin, heading back to the Good Country two years ago after a summer break. The whole world has changed in those two years.

49 COMMENTS

  1. Best wishes for a successful and speedy recovery following your procedure. To be hoped your search for journalistic support is successful.

  2. Keep up the good work and I wish you good luck.
    I’ve had my fair share: Survived drowning a few times, car crashes (roll over and run off), cancer, auto immune disease, old age (so far 80), 70 years of driving all over, 2nd WWs, and flying with you to Birdsville and back.
    So far so good, cheers.
    PS: I hope some of my replies haven’t caused your heart probs!

  3. I was wondering why I kept running into you at the Doctors.
    And me only a young 75.
    I know a few people with pacemakers who seem to keep powering on, Phillip Adams comes to mind, but I do think we have earned the right to take it a bit easier.
    Best of luck with the procedure.

  4. Sorry to hear about your ill health. Take time out to recover for there are many people who want ‘The Alice Springs News’ to keep going. Erwin, you have done a very good job over the past thirty years. I like your broad approach to the material you accept for publication. I am waiting for more stories. ‘The Alice Springs News’ is the best media outlet in the Northern Territory.

  5. Best wishes to you Erwin and Kieran. The Territory will always need as many media platforms as possible.

  6. Erwin, I’ve long admired your journalism and am deeply grateful for the Alice Springs News (ASN). The News has been an important even vital source of information and opinions about our wider region, the towns, communities and Alice.
    The News is exceptional in many ways. Its journalists care about the region and its future. It has a vast, rich and accessible archive of town and regional history, is at the forefront of transitions from print to online, has deep long-term knowledge that informs contemporary reporting, it blends topical reporting from arts to politics, nurtures younger journalists and writers, and more.
    I’ve known Kieran and yourself for decades, I’m glad of our friendship in recent years. Although I haven’t always agreed with the journalistic stance on certain issues, I now know that you’re open and willing to discuss them and expand your views.
    It awes me that two people, and their intermittent colleagues, can operate and report for an independent newspaper yet earn enough to live carefully if humbly. You each contribute to the strengthening of the social fabric of this town and many individuals. This includes me who has found greater confidence in photography and writing through occasional contributions to the News.
    I trust your spirit stays strong, your health restores and you adjust the workload to them.
    As your banner quote says, we need independent journalism.

  7. Best wishes Erwin for a very speedy recovery. Independent journalists are the eyes and ears of a civil society – thanks to you and Kieran for giving voice to analysis and discourse over such a long period. Take care both of you. Pip.

  8. John, Fiona, Pip et al speak for me also.
    Regretfully, the value of a diverse and fearless media is not always valued by the wider community, that is perhaps, until it’s gone.
    Some of my fellow citizens seem content with puff pieces and recycled press releases, the offerings of tame journalists who enjoy cozy relationships with government.
    All the best, Erwin and Kieran. Rest up, you’ve certainly earned it.

  9. G’day Erwin. By my reckoning you will be rebuilt and tuned up by now. I hope all went well.
    Could you please give us an update.
    Hi Bob: Thanks for the enquiry! All A-OK. Ticking over like a bird. Full road report to follow.

  10. Hi Bob, and to my wonderful families and friends: The Pacemaker is in my chest after a highly professional procedure in the Royal Adelaide Hospital on Tuesday, just a day procedure, in collaboration with the Alice Springs Hospital.
    The function of my BIV Pacemaker at present is to provide additional power when needed (Marathon, for example. Yeah, right.)
    In some three weeks’ time an adjustment will be made for the two parts of the heart to beat in sync, or so I understand it.
    West Macs … here I come!
    Erwin Chlanda, Editor

  11. We have never met but I’ve been to Alice twice and followed the Alice News you give us for ages, from the other side of the world. Best wishes.

  12. Dear Erwin: Just a word from me, as a Darwin outsider. For years our organisation ‘PLan’ has relied on your excellent, thorough, independent journalism in the Alice Springs News keeping us in the picture. Fresh air and up to date facts when urgently needed.
    This comments list shows how appreciated you two are in Alice, having such dedication. Always there and on the job.
    Glad that you are on the mend now, in the best of hands. Rest up, and Look after Yourself.
    Regards,
    Margaret Clinch

  13. Hi Erwin!
    I just read about your health problems.
    We wish you a speedy recovery and that you will be back at the command post of the Alice Springs News as soon as possible.
    I hope we can see each other agian in the foreseeable future, either in Austria or in Alice Springs.
    Best regards from Gloggnitz, also to Kieran,
    Fred and Erika

  14. A monumental effort sustained over a very long time (which I’ve seen firsthand perhaps more than most).
    To place the end of the Alice Springs News in perspective, the Centralian Advocate was locally owned from 1947 to 1966 – just shy of two decades; thereafter it became an early acquisition of the nascent Murdoch media empire.
    Several other local newspapers have been attempted over the years but only the Alice Springs Star persisted for a comparatively lengthy period (beginning as “The Paper” in 1975, changing to the Star in 1976 and superseded by the short-lived Midweek Territorian in 1984).
    Thank you, Erwin and Kieran, for the opportunity you have afforded me and many others for providing a venue for opinions, concepts and ideas that otherwise stood little chance to be publicised.
    You’ve earned your break – it’s time for others to pick up the cudgels.

  15. Best wishes and good health Erwin and Kieran and thank you both for your professional journalism in print and online over the years.
    Indeed independent journalism is essential for a true democracy, maybe the emergence of the unregulated, unedited and unprofessional chatter on social media is the reason why some democracies are faltering.
    Vale to all those brave Journalists throughout the world who have been killed in their endeavours to bring us true independent journalism.

  16. Erwin – my comments endorse many of those ahead of me such as Alex Nelson, Mike Gillam, Fiona Walsh.
    I also note that so far none of our political representatives and operators have had the courage or generosity to write to thank you and Kieran for the fact that together you have maintained voices from the floor of the community. It’s true that sometimes you went out on a limb – well – such is life.
    Kieran Finnane has consistently been a voice of integrity and quality in her reviews of local events and the works of many and varied artists.
    The range of Central Australian multicultured creativity is documented in Kieran’s reviews.
    This is a national asset. The fact that the News will maintain the archive of these reviews is an act of generosity for all our families and friends for years to come. I trust that The News archives will eventually be included in the NT Archives.

  17. I can’t remember a time before the Alice Springs News. For most of my life it was the successful business that my parents supported our family with.
    But the last decade or so has been tough on this small, locally owned and independent newspaper, and it is through my parents’ incredible commitment that it continued serve Alice Springs through these lean years.
    Alongside Dad’s single mindedness, it is the values of truth, accountability, and the democratic importance of a well informed community enlivened through critical discourse that have driven their work and sustained this commitment. It’s moving to me to see all these comments, and I couldn’t be prouder of Mum and Dad’s nearly 30 years on the Alice Springs News, and their dedication to serious, independent journalism.

  18. At last the court proceedings Yuendumu has been waiting for are proceeding.
    We miss you Kieran – the best court reporter in the NT.

  19. Thanks from me too. Especially during the time of COVID exile from Central Australia it has been great to have a News window on some local events. Best of luck for the future and hope the writing and archive continues!

  20. Dear Erwin and Kieran,
    I was really sad to read that the Alice Springs News is ceasing active research and reporting. I have read the Alice Springs News almost every day to read what is happening and who has contributed articles and comments. After living in Alice Springs for more than 30 years I really miss Alice Springs and its great community spirit and thanks to the Alice Springs News I’ve been able to keep up with its politics, community groups, artist events and people I miss. Thank you both for the articles you’ve written over the years.
    I first met Erwin in 1982 at the Centralian Advocate and have kept up with his journalism and also Kieran’s reporting ever since the Alice Springs News started 30 years ago. Even kept the hard copy issues when left at our doorstep so to say.
    Also having lived in Alice Springs for more that 30 years I know how important a local newspaper with local stories and coming events covered mean to the locals. To my way of thinking in a sense, the end of local news (by the printed word) is like the end of the town – very sad.
    Thank you Erwin and Kieran for all the time, effort, work and reporting you have done over the years and thank you for keeping the Archives on line.
    Best wishes to you both and your family always.
    Dorothy Grimm

  21. The demise of the Alice Springs News was not the result of a natural decline in advertising revenue.
    It was deliberately throttled by starving it of revenue.
    The NT Government led the assassination.
    The Alice Springs Town Council was party to it along with others that disliked the fearless scrutiny of the News.
    The Alice Springs Town Council online magazine, Council Connects and Braitling MLA Josh Burgoyne (CLP) publication, the Braitling Bugle, could and should have been paid contributions to the News. They would have reached a bigger audience at less cost.
    Others danced on the grave of the News even before the funeral.
    Jimmy Cocking lamented the loss of a local paper and made pie in the sky suggestions about replacing the Advocate when the News was already filling the gap and needed nothing more than support?
    https://www.croakey.org/wp-content/uploads/2022/02/Cocking.pdf
    The end of reporting here will be welcomed by a few.
    God help the rest of us.
    But well done Erwin and Kieran.

  22. “The freedom of the press still furnishes that check upon government which no constitution has ever been able to provide”. These words have been on the Alice Springs News banner forever.
    I repeat them here in the hope that readers might read them again, and reflect, and remember them. Eyes can be too easily drawn to the clever headline, or the quality photo, and skip over those words. And take them for granted. No more.
    Social media has depleted the advertising revenues for investigative journalism everywhere. So yet another check on the excesses of governments has been destroyed. In the last few parliamentary terms we have witnessed:
    • continued politicisation of the public service
    • transfer of work to favoured consultancy firms
    • increase in the numbers of sympathisers in ministerial offices
    • industrial scale rorting of taxpayers money for various ‘grant’ schemes
    • serious drop in standards of ministerial behaviour
    • a series of scathing Reports from the Auditor General
    • failure to implement an election promise to legislate for an Integrity Commission
    And now a further diminishing of media capable of ‘furnishing that check upon government’.
    Kieran and Erwin, thank you. You have earned your shady tree. By now you are probably wondering how you ever found the time to work.

  23. Erwin, I am not clear what you mean by ‘the discussion space’ or how to find it.
    I can’t see it at the bottom of the page.
    Are you referring to ‘comments’?
    I have been a regular commenter, and am keen to continue, but does this include introducing new topics?

    Hi Charlie,
    It’s the Recent Comments on the right-hand side of the front page.
    The column started spontaneously – the readers created it, are adding to it daily, and we’ll keep it going for as long as we can.
    You’re welcome to deal with any topic you like.
    Each comment becomes an addition to our seven million word archive.
    All the best,
    Erwin Chlanda
    http://www.alicespringsnews.com.au
    Mob 0418 890040

    [ED – We now have created Talk of the Town for readers for readers to comment on issue.

  24. I certainly am grateful for the Alice Springs News and the coverage that Erwin and Kieran have provided over my time as a Councillor on the Alice Springs Town Council.
    If it wasn’t for your attention to detail and interest in Local Government and the issues facing Alice Springs and the greater community, the community would be not as well informed, in my opinion.
    Also I am grateful for your stories to be still available to the public.
    The past four years have been a rollercoaster and it still amazes me how the chaos was so well woven together in your writing.
    I am sure there will again come a time when these archives prove yet again to be an invaluable source of information.
    Yours in good health, Marli

  25. I join the long list of long-time readers of the Alice Springs News to say thank you Erwin and Kieran for your outstanding and unstinting service to our community.
    You were our social media long before that term passed into common currency.
    The Alice Springs News beamed hard light into dark places, and illuminated and celebrated the cultures, arts and lives that flourish / struggle here.

  26. The closure of the Alice Springs News is indeed a sad event.
    The ASN has produced many challenging stories over the years giving readers carefully argued insight into many issues.
    The protection of human rights has always been high on the ASN agenda. What has been so good is Erwin’s policy of pursuing many different stories giving different contributors the opportunity to reveal the present and the past from different angles.
    No-one has a monopoly on the the truth, which is reflected in the way the ASN has approached many of its stories.
    Added to this has been Erwin’s interest in minority groups and their rights to be heard.
    As a contributor to the ASN since 2019 both my son and I have been gratified and inspired by Erwin’s flexible approach to featuring articles.
    The ASN has been a media outlet that is analytical in its communicating of information.
    It does more than report the news. Anyone can report the news and miss the truth. Erwin’s willingness to publish my stories has enriched and inspired me as a person.
    I will always be grateful to you Erwin. In the mix of this the contribution of senior journalist Kieran Finnane needs also to be acknowledged.
    She is very professional, inclusive and thorough in everything she writes. Her quality of research and objectivity are worthy of high commendation.
    Both Erwin and Kieran are worthy of high journalistic awards. Good luck to you both.

  27. I’m so sorry to hear that the Alice Springs News won’t be reporting any longer.
    Thank you for your dedication to local news and society – I have appreciated your work for many years.
    Your legacy will continue and won’t be forgotten.

  28. The realisation of this decision shouldn’t have shocked me as it has, Erwin. I join the chorus of voices in expressing gratitude for the service the News has provided throughout these decades.

  29. Thank you Erwin and Kieran for your efforts with this paper (still sticking with the old physical description). I have learnt so much about many issues from reading it and at times from the readers’ responses to the stories. You allowed discussions on your stories before it became a thing, and your moderation was fair. Being able to contribute, agree and at times strongly disagree (a couple of times with editor’s warnings haha) has been great.
    Unfortunately sometimes I was unable to comment [with my name] due to my work with the government and their media commenting policy under the Code Of Conduct.
    I always saw you as the balancing force against the big media players, and you certainly never held back on many occasions, challenging them with real researched arguments.
    I also believe your work with prison fellowship is a feather in your cap, Erwin, displaying a compassion and altruistic service that many of the younger generation will never know. Best of luck.

  30. Hi Erwin, I’m wondering why you didn’t move to a subscription model to fund the News going forward?
    I’m sure that many readers would be happy to pay. I know I would.

  31. Alice Springs will sorely miss the independent journalism that Erwin, Kieran et al provided.
    I have not lived there for many years but still get posted stories from many old friends who still live there and these are sometimes written by Erwin or Kieran.
    I recall in the 1970s and 1980s when Erwin’s journalism provided what was often the only source of independent information about what was happening in remote communities.
    I hope that a way is found to keep independent journalism alive in Alice Springs. It is a place which absolutely requires it.

  32. Thank you Erwin and Kieran for your decades of service to public interest journalism in Central Australia. The Alice Springs News has been a key source of local news and investigative reports that has served our community well. I have always appreciated the fearless and frank reporting of issues that go to the core of the challenges for Central Australia.
    Erwin’s doggedness in chasing stories and reporting it how he sees it and Kieran’s consistency to capture the essence of current affairs and wonderfully illustrative reporting of arts and culture. You have both stood up for Alice Springs by turning up and asking the tough questions. I have personally appreciated you both individually and the Alice Springs News generally with the coverage of Council, issues raised and events happening through the Arid Lands Environment Centre and giving me a reason to contribute to the rest and reflection series over the years.
    We certainly need more of what you have brought to Central Australia in the independent, public interest journalism space. Thank you for your service to Alice Springs and the region, through providing a valuable, free, rich and accessible information archive with a distinctly Central Australian voice. You pioneered the web forum long before social media took off. We are all better for what you have contributed. Your legacy will live on … must live on. Thank you.

  33. @ Jimmy Cocking: While you publicly support the Alice Springs News you are working to establish a paper alternative to Murdoch’s Advocate supported by the big end of town.
    Could I suggest you redirect your endeavours to actively work towards getting the News back on track.
    Fearless independent journalism is much more in keeping with the ethics and principles you say you stand for.

  34. Thanks @Jon. I have been working to assess the viability of a physical newspaper which many people in town have lamented the loss of.
    People have reported they particularly miss the community news, sports, public notices etc.
    The Alice News, to the credit of Erwin and Kieran, has maintained the hard news and investigative approaches, which in other places is being backed with subscription, crowdfunding and philanthropy in the absence of sufficient advertising to pay for public interest journalism.
    It is testament to the tenacity of the Alice Springs News to serve the community for the time that it has and the way that it has.
    As I said in the submission, public interest journalism has been affected by the business model that has been broken by online advertising and social media.
    The government needs to recognise this and provide support to ensure media organisations / businesses and journalists can do their job despite the market challenges.
    There are many examples of printed newspapers that have either rebuilt, rebranded, regionalised and reprinted since the News Ltd decision and ACM consolidations in 2020.
    It is in the interest of the community to understand how they did it and whether it is possible here.
    Happy to have a coffee with you @Jon and discuss your thoughts on this. Drop me a line.

  35. @ Jimmy Cocking: “People have reported they particularly miss the community news, sports, public notices etc.”
    We were either already providing these or could introduce them in the blink of an eye. Plus they would be updated several times a day, not weekly, and have a far greater reach.
    While I hugely appreciate your comments on February 15, I’m surprised that your clients didn’t bother to pick our brains after nearly three decades of running a paper here.
    On their instructions, no doubt, you declined to tell me who they are when I asked you.
    I am not prying. I just think it would have made sense to bring us together.
    Further, I am absolutely opposed to making media dependent on governments except – having assessed value for money – spending taxpayer’s money for advertising on local media instead of interstate and overseas ones.
    Kind regards, Erwin Chlanda, Editor.

  36. @ Erwin Chlanda: The model of a newspaper that Jimmy Cocking is working on with business interests is no substitute for the Alice Springs News.
    It would be accountable to its secretive backers for a start, it would tip toe around the important issues that the News has tackled without fear or favour.
    Jimmy Cocking’s newspaper would kill off any chance for a resurrection of the News.
    Advertising revenue would flood into Jimmy’s news, all the revenue that has been systematically withheld from the Alice Springs News would miraculously be available.
    But it would not be a free press, a rare and precious thing in this day and age.

  37. I am very sad to see the end of the News, but happy for you guys to be able to relax and put your feet up after decades of hard work 🙂
    The opportunity you gave me (and Oscar) is something I will never forget and will always be the foundation of my work in journalism.
    I hope to have a rather large whiskey on the rocks while watching the sunset with you both soon.

  38. Thank you Erwin and Kieran. I too am saddened. For so long I have been thrilled to live in this town. Much of the reason is that we, in our distanced isolation had a quality news, the Alice Springs News, that strung together an intricate fabric of our lives, not only in news but in information, ideas, art, culture and creative dialogue that gave the interactivity of our lives meaning.
    Thank you both and thank you Kieran for injecting into that mix reviews of national quality where you have continued to get your mind and responses around such diversity in the arts with thought provoking, constructive generosity.

  39. Jimmy Cocking may well believe that his future mayoral election prospects will be improved in the absence of scrutiny by the News.
    He’s probably right.

  40. To see this closing is quite a tragedy.
    The Alice Springs News is not only good for the Territory, but also as a portal for many thousands of ex-Alice and Territory residents now living interstate and overseas.
    I am personally saddened.
    Good luck to Mr Chlanda and staff.

  41. ScoMo and Penny Wong visit Alice Springs during the election campaign. I’m sure that they were happy to avoid scrutiny from Alice Springs News.

LEAVE A REPLY

Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here