About us

The Alice Springs News is in its 28th year of publication, and with the closure of the Murdoch Centralian Advocate in 2020 we are the only local newspaper in Central Australia.

At present we are redesigning our editorial focus from daily and brief reports to long form journalism focussing on background, analysis and investigation of our region’s major issues. For this we are assembling a team of writers, some long-term contributors, some new.

Our seven million word online archive goes back to 1998, is fully searchable and available 24/7.

Readers are continuing to send us comments or information for publication (see the right-hand column on our front page). We are platform for civilised and fearless debate.

Our previous peak circulation was 22,000 individual readers a month making 90,000 page views. We’ve published some 26,000 readers’ comments since 2011.

We are one of Australia’s oldest online newspapers. 

We founded the News as a print edition in 1994 as the largest circulation independent newspaper in the Northern Territory of Australia, strictly complying with the Journalistic Code of Ethics.

If you would like to support our independent journalism – since 1997 online – you can contribute by clicking here …

Our generous supporters help us to cover our expenses and expand our reporting on topics that matter.

The Alice Springs News is still free, and offers outstanding advertising opportunities.

The publication manager is Media Choice, Alice Springs, Australia.

THE ALICE SPRINGS NEWS IS ALICE SPRINGS OWNED AND OPERATED.

Phone our news office at  0418 890040 or email erwin@alicespringsnews.com.au

Snail mail: PO Box 1613 ALICE SPRINGS NT 0871.

Editor: Erwin Chlanda

Senior writer: Kieran Finnane

Our “patch” is an area of a million square kilometres; 30% of the population is Aboriginal. Like all our followers they read us on their mobile phones and tablets or other devices.

We also have a significant readership interstate and overseas.

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Alice Springs News: A look into the past and the future

By Editor ERWIN CHLANDA

I recently had occasion to look back at my time as founding editor of the Alice Springs News and over my broader career in journalism. This is a slightly edited version of comments I made then.

We published the first edition of the News on March 3, 1994.

An early Macintosh (pictured below) was the first computer we owned. Today’s iPhone has 100,000 times the data capacity and is hundreds of times more powerful.

It’s an example of the velocity of technical changes impacting the newspaper industry in the past 30 years.

Early in our publication, printing in Adelaide, Mt Isa or Murray Bridge, we had a copy deadline of 48 hours before the newspaper became available to readers, mostly of them in the town of Alice Springs.

Now we can turn around reporting in 10 minutes. Stories are available the world over and more importantly, from Lake Nash to Docker River and Lajamanu to Ernabella – our big outback circulation area in The Centre of Australia.

People out bush no longer have to miss out.

We went exclusively online on March 27, 2011, peaking at 22,000 individual readers and up to 100,000 page views a month.

It gave us a circulation vastly greater than when we were appearing in print.

Kieran Finnane is the co-founder of the News, and has applied to it her wisdom, profound understanding of the community, her empathy for the not so well off, her writing skills and her respect and love for the region as a journalist and as a citizen.

Our daughter Jacquie – now Dr Chlanda – was six when we started publishing; our son Rainer, just three. From then on the News was part of their everyday lives and they were both a big help in keeping the family business going.

Jacquie, aged seven or so, to a caller on the phone asking who he was speaking with, replied: “I am the daughter of the Alice Springs News.”

The printed News was delivered into every letterbox in town. Usually with a parent in tow, both our kids got used to filling holes in the paper rounds from an early age.

Jacquie worked for us in the office off and on during high school and during part of her gap year.

Our son Rainer also did a stint in the office in his gap year. He has gone on to work on the front line of our troubling juvenile issues and has written for us much quoted think pieces.

Kieran is working on a third book, having just won the Chief Minister’s NT Book Award for Non-fiction with her Peace Crimes: Pine Gap, national security and dissent.

I’ve just turned 77 and well meaning friends are urging me to get a hobby … stamp collection … bird watching, that kind of thing.

Not a chance in the world. While there is a story to be told I want to be there to do it.

I’m often asked if I have been a journalist all my life. “Not yet” is my answer.

How did I start in this profession which, practised ethically, is essential to our democracy, indeed our life?

That does not include news media using journalists as advertising salespersons, prostituting our honourable craft.

I was born and raised in Austria and started at age 16 as an occasional contributor to the Mödlinger Zeitung, serving Mödling, a southern suburb of Vienna.

I will never forget the buzz I felt when I saw my first by-line in print.

I studied for a few semesters at the World Trade College and journalism at the Vienna University, but I soon discovered that my chosen job needs to be learned in the streets, not a lecture theatre.

I joined the Volksblatt, one of up to 11 daily newspapers in Vienna, population about 1.7 million at the time.

Competition was ferocious.

I was doing the police round. Sub judice requirements received little respect. If Hans shot Fritz in the red light Prater district we said so – front page, with all the gory details.

Vienna was a city of newspaper readers, often sitting in upholstered armchairs in coffee shops, which provided a dozen daily papers from Austria and surrounding countries.

The Volksblatt newsroom was largely freelance, including me. It’s a time honoured practice in journalism, lucrative if you’re any good. I get impatient with the current whinging about contract work.

I arrived in Australia at age 23, worked at Channel 9 in Adelaide for a year and then as the editor of the West Coast Sentinel in beautiful Streaky Bay for five years.

My first story in the NT was Cyclone Tracy on Christmas Day 1974, flying to Darwin with acting Prime Minister Jim Cairns the day after. The aftermath spilled over to Alice Springs with thousands of people travelling south … stories, stories, stories.

I was stringing for the national ABC, Seven, Nine and Ten television networks, and some overseas ones.

I became a glider and light aircraft pilot, learned to ride horses and off-road motorbikes, clocked up 630 skydives and found out how to roll a swag and cook on the campfire, under the stars.

They were all things I had been dreaming about as a kid in over-crowded, and often rainy and foggy Austria.

Work in Alice Springs was rewarding and dramatic. I was first journalist on the scene for the strychnine murder, the balloon disaster, the kamikaze attack on Connair, the Mack truck murders at The Rock and – above all – Azaria.

That, in my view, remains a cold case because we still don’t know who placed the infant’s clothes on the other side of The Rock.

My overseas stories, beginning with the Volksblatt and later for media in Australia, included crossing the Sahara by car for stories about Biafra and the Nigerian civil war at the southern end.

My first wife Gail and I were arrested as spies in Biafra but mercifully were released after a day.

I covered the Cambodian election as seen from the Khmer Rouge stronghold of Siem Reap, flying in Blackhawks with a machine gunner each side and a “make my day” look on their faces.

I was embedded with the Afghan Mujahideen behind Russian lines, together with my son Laurie, then 15 years old.

That was when the Mujahideen were still the good guys, fighting the Russians, and before the US, our government and compliant media threw a switch and declared them to be the bad guys while Osama Bin Laden was living in relative comfort in Pakistan.

Life as a journo can be a lonely. Some people talk to you because they want you to write a story about them. And some do because they fear you might.

When are you an objective journalist? When both sides of a story hate you equally.

One of my early interviews in the NT was in 1977 with then Opposition Leader Jon Isaacs, sitting on a bench in then Todd Street.

I asked him: Is this on the record?

He said: Everything I say to you is on the record.

These were the good old days. Now most communications with politicians are via minders, notwithstanding that we journalists are obliged to quote actual sources and not publish hearsay.

This must stop and honourable journalists should get together and make sure it does. We can do that: Just report No Comment.

In our patch we find MLAs Robyn Lambley, Bill Yan and Chansey Paech readily accessible. Most of their Top End fellow pollies are not.

The future of the Alice Springs News?

The catastrophic influence of US based social media has truncated the advertising revenue of traditional media the world over.

Social media users are willing to trade their privacy for access to Facebook, frequently used for reprehensible purposes. Or they are unaware that’s what they are doing.

The News had to respond to the consequences. It was at times difficult but we forged forward.

I believe more than ever that we need independent journalism.

At the end of last year we made the decision to stop daily reporting but that did not signal the end of my ambitions for the paper, nor for this town where I have now lived most of my life.

My hope is that the Alice Springs News will continue to serve and inform our community, and that it will find the support to do this beyond Kieran and – to a point – myself.

Wish us luck!