Richard Long: Glory days in the gallery

KATE NEWTON
Last updated 06:00 31/12/2010

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Thirty years after earning a badge of honour for getting up prime minister Rob Muldoon's nose, veteran journalist Richard Long has received a more orthodox award – this one government-sanctioned.

A former editor of The Dominion newspaper, Mr Long has been made an officer of the New Zealand Order of Merit for services to journalism.

He said he regarded the honour as a tribute to the journalists he worked with over four decades in the newspaper industry. "An editor's only as good as his staff."

He spent more than 20 years in Parliament's press gallery, which provided some of the most memorable moments of his career.

The Muldoon era proved particularly fertile ground for political reporting, with Mr Long most proud of a series he wrote questioning the rationale behind the government's Think Big policy.

That prompted a riled Muldoon to bar all Dominion reporters from his press conferences, claiming the articles – later proven correct – were misleading.

Mr Long left journalism after steering The Dominion through its 2002 merger with The Evening Post, becoming chief of staff for National Party leader Bill English and his successor, Don Brash.

"I thought it would be fascinating to see politics from the other side."

His time on the other side was brief but eventful, after the National Party became embroiled in the Exclusive Brethren pamphlet controversy during the 2005 election.

However, he said theories of political conspiracies were "hogwash – it's all cock-ups in politics".

He is a life member of the press gallery and writes a political column for The Dominion Post. He was also inaugural chairman of the Newspaper Editors' Press Freedom Committee, New Zealand chairman of the Commonwealth Press Union, and a board member of the Newspaper Publishers' Association.

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- The Dominion Post

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