Straight talk Charlie tells it as it is
Bad journalism 101: Burying the lead

Web power triggers new special delivery

The correspondent

Oala Moi, a disaster management official with PNG’s National Disaster Centre, is in Beijing on a disaster training seminar sponsored by the Chinese Government. The other night, perhaps feeling a bit homesick, he was idly searching the Internet for the name of his village – Boera, near Port Moresby – when he came upon the following story, written six years ago by Richard Jones, just as the ASOPA regeneration was getting underway.

The story, by Richard Jones

SPECIAL DELIVERY: The Porebada Coast isn’t far from Port Moresby but in the wet season the dirt roads became almost impassable. Getting to town from Boera, where I was head teacher, could be tricky. In 1967, I was the rugby league writer for the South Pacific Post. In the sixties, Friday night league in Moresby was the highlight of the sporting week. On Thursday morning the sports editor required the preview.

A Standard 6 lad did the run from Boera for me. Gonogo Ganiga boarded the Boera truck armed with my story and clad in my rainproof jacket. One day, because of road works, the truck was forced to stop near Idubada. Gonogo disembarked and trudged in pouring rain past Hagara, Hanuabada and Konedobu to Lawes Road and dropped off the packet a the newspaper office. The South Pacific Post sports desk never complained about material arrived dripping wet and the weekend rugby league preview appeared as normal in next day’s issue. Not for the first time, I thanked Papuan ingenuity.

The google, by Oala Moi

I googled ‘Boera’ and read a short story by Richard Jones, ‘Special Delivery’. I took particular interest as the delivery boy in the story, Gonogo Ganiga, is actually my maternal uncle. My mother's maiden name is Naime Ganiga and I am also from Boera. Uncle Gonogo is alive and well but in his mid to late 40s (I think!).

The story put a smile on my face as it confirms my misgivings about this uncle's boasts about working for the Post Courier back in the seventies. I may have been a kid but my instincts were not always wrong. I will show this article to my uncle once I return from my overseas trip (am in Beijing now). I am sure my uncle remembers his head teacher fondly.

The response, by Richard Jones

In due deference to Mr Gonogo Ganiga, he was only a Standard 4 or 5 boy when he did the job as a ‘runner’ or ‘copyboy deliverer’ back in the late 1960s. He could well have gone on to work for the Post-Courier later in life - and into the 1970s - when he had finished school.

Gonogo Ganiga was a delightful boy, always willing to help. No after-school task was too onerous for him. He especially loved the sarif (grass-cutting) duties around the teachers’ houses. It meant he could duck inside and watch the magic of the flush, septic toilet - paper and water disappearing before his very eyes with one push of the button. And, magically, the cistern filling up ready for another plunge.

The upshot

It turns out that, in addition to his day job, Oala is a music columnist, music publisher and music copyright advocate in PNG. And he’s also a very talented songwriter. You can see a music video he wrote, composed and co-produced for the PNG National Disaster Centre on YouTube here. Just click here and wait, the video will launch itself.


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