Sad news into the Photo Archive News office this morning, World Entertainment News Network (WENN) founder Jonathan Ashby has died. He was with celebrity news and photo agency WENN 1989 – 2001 and recently ran Forward Publishing a world-wide mental health news & information network which he founded in 2008.
Jonathan died on Wednesday 6 July a few days before his birthday, he was 66.
“Ashby – one of the last colourful characters of Fleet Street. And not just because of the loud shirts open neck shirts he was fond of as work attire. He went about his day with enthusiastic optimism, and his mischievous giggle was infectious.
WENN was a fantastic concept and its lasting legacy will be some of the names that passed through there over the years, tutored and helped along by Jonathan. It is a greater testimony to the character of Ashby that so many of his alumni would return to visit him in his garden grotto in East Barnet. He could also be frustrating to deal with at times, but it was hard to argue the facts when he would be explaining that it was because of our conflicting star signs that there was causing underlining issue!
Early WENN wasn’t so much a company as a commune of people from all walks of life who were in need of job. He filled positions with friends, and friends of friends, who returned the favour by making WENN the success it was. And later in life he brought the same compassion and tireless work ethic to supporting his own mental health group and magazine for those with bipolar disorder. I’m glad I bumped into him all those years ago at his mate Rod Stewart’s wedding to Rachel Hunter in Los Angeles.
Going to miss him.”
Kevin Smith, former WENN stringer in LA, founder of Splash News and now president of The Mega Agency.
Dear WENN team
I am a French photographer based in London Wed End.
I would like to send you my condolences for your lost.
Erol Birsen // Photojournalist
Jonathan Ashby, the founder and CEO of WENN from 1989 to 2001, has passed away after a brave battle with poor health.
Ever-charismatic and passionate, Jonathan was beloved by those he mentored and encouraged. Many of the young journalists who came through the doors of WENN, the company he created from his home in the London suburbs, went on to become top journalists and TV personalities around the world.
A true media visionary, Jonathan began his journalistic career on the East Anglian Daily Times and went on to write showbiz columns for Fleet Street’s finest. He conceptualized and created WENN in 1989, while serving as London correspondent for ABC News in America.
Under his leadership, WENN became a showbiz news leader throughout the world, spawning photography, radio and TV divisions, before ill health forced Jonathan to step down as CEO in 2001.
He went on to become a passionate mental health advocate, and ran Forward Publishing, a global mental health news and information network.
Jonathan died on 6th July, just days before his 67th birthday.
All those who have been at WENN over the years, including our current workforce, owe him a massive debt of gratitude. He gave many young minds direction and purpose, and also offered the occasional waif and stray the chance to shine among the best of the best – and become a part of the WENN family.
He will be greatly missed by family, friends, acquaintances and colleagues.
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