Ash Long, Director, Editor & Proprietor: The Melbourne
Long Media and Media Flash - 22nd April 2003
Ash Long story starts in 1969 as a 12-year-old selling
newspapers door-to-door in the northern suburbs of
Melbourne. This was with the Sunday
Observer, then later with the Nation
Review. Learned every aspect of newspaper production:
distribution, production, editorial, advertising sales,
strategy, management and ownership.
are your prime aims and objectives?
the industry so much that I bought my own company.
Have been broke twice, so my major corporate aim these
days is to keep making a healthy profit! My chief
business objects are to practise the truth, be fair,
build goodwill and better friendships.
long have you been writing and broadcasting?
newspaper distribution in 1969. Was elevated to earning
4.5 cents per published line for suburban newspapers
in 1974. Joined newspaper management as a 21-year-old
in 1978. Owned my own papers from 1983. Produced TV
programs from 1997. Commenced online publishing in
many interview requests do you receive?
the online publishing of Media Flash every week has
a huge visibility, especially amongst media tertiary
students. This brings about a large number of interview
requests for assignments, input for a thesis, or signposts
about a career in media. This led to the inclusion
of the Australian Media Job Directory in Media
Flash, where about 2000 media career opportunities
are listed annually.
do you write for, and how did the gigs come about?
own the Melbourne Observer,
which is a weekly lifestyle newspaper on sale at newsagents
throughout Victoria. The paper was published by others
from 1969 to 1989, and I resurrected the title in
September 2002. Like you, I broadcast on Sydney's
community TV station, Channel 31, a weekly lifestyle
TV program - 'The Sydney Report'. Plus there's Media
Flash, and regular radio spots. I sought out each
of the opportunities.
news outlet do you feel most loyal to?
deep passion is for the craft of print journalism.
But the business demands of the 21st Century requires
that even the smallest media company be also super-proficient
in radio, TV and online.
new opportunities have recently opened up for you?
Internet has changed the way we operate. We market
ourselves on the Net - with many thousands visiting
our websites weekly. We use e-mail and e-commerce
to do business with clients around the globe. PDF/Adobe
Acrobat has made us able to publish newspapers anywhere
around the globe cost-effectively. That excites me
the biggest story you ever broke?
predominantly a local publisher, I'm into little stories
- not so much the big ones! Hundreds of them - every
week. The ones where you are likely to find you own
name in them. The big headline stuff can be someone
give you the edge?
Plus I'll work longer and harder than most others.
Perhaps next I'll even learn how to work smarter!
do you do when you’re not writing?
interests are big on my agenda. My wife, Fleur, and
I love theatre. Our daughter, Kristi, is soon to be
married. Our son, James, is a soldier in Townsville.
So there's plenty to do. Photography is relaxing.
Traveling is fun. So I'm told.
do you think of "Blogging", and why?
concern me much. Lots of people with points-of-view.
That's healthy ... but are they just talking to thin
air? If so, it's at least good therapy.
news sources and journalists do you respect the most
gives me the best opportunity to help form my own
opinions. Admire John B. Fairfax and his Rural
Press operations for good, clean reporting.
There's an independent Sydney publisher John Engisch,
whose family have been fearlessly reporting the truth
since 1920: they are brilliant. I greatly admire Derryn
Hinch for his radio craft. And never thought I say
it, but Rupert Murdoch's News
Corporation is doing some really good things
in Australian media generally. I love radio for its
immediacy. TV is powerful but superficial. I use lots
of online sources.
you revel in the publicity the business has given
I once used to revel in the spotlight. Publicity is
fine if it's good for the business, otherwise what's
the use? The publicity game is just that: a game.
are your biggest advocates and detractors?
in the media industry form both groups. People who
I've worked with form the advocates' group. We've
done good work together - and usually had a fair amount
of fun in the process. The detractors are usually
the armchair critics who complain about lots of things.
It comes with the territory.
has online news been both a good thing and blight
on war coverage?
trend to immediate news coverage on the Net and cable
TV has seen an increasing use of US Ministry of Defense
- directed information. But we have to realise the
propaganda war is as much a part of the strategy as
the bombs and bullets.
the most dangerous situation you have been it?
not in war-zones ... but certainly with violent people.
For 10 years, when I owned a chain of local, country
newspapers, I covered Courts on a weekly basis. Everything
from murderers, violent assault artists and thugs.
And a fair share of them tried to intimidate me not
to publish their details. We did.
topics do you prefer to cover and why?
Melbourne Observer has a healthy diet of hard news,
court reports, local happenings, gossip, showbiz,
lifestyle, information, sport and fun. It's not a
bad mix of ingredients for a good newspaper.
you ever considered getting out of the business, on
a matter of principle, if you became aware of something
that wasn’t just?
more than 20 years I've been a sole operator for that
very reason! There is much-too-much dishonesty in
the media industry, as well as board room shenanigans,
that takes the time of executives and players. We
should be out there practising our craft with energy,
honesty and accuracy.
have you given back to the industry - traditional
and online news media?
a good dose of energy, honesty and accuracy. Plus
some fun ... as well as some healthy guidance and
encouragement for young people adopting it as their
inspired you to write a book?
truth. How could I be a media person, exposing the
foibles and failures of others, without exposing my
own closet's skeletons? So I decided on a warts-and-all
book that detailed the stumbles as well as the victories.
are your future goals?
keep up the energy levels, to share the excitement
with others, to help a few media careers along their
other information would you like our audience to become
thanks for the opportunity of sharing a bit of my
life with you. You are doing what I'm talking about.
You are in print, on TV, on radio, and you have your
own website. You are working with others ... sharing
and learning with them. And doing a bit of good on
the way through, where possible. That's what media
is all about. You seem to have discovered the formula.
Good fortune to you and all those who share the same