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.