Writing for PNG Attitude
02 March 2020
TUMBY BAY - Keith Jackson has got a fairly comprehensive guide to the sort of material he will accept for publication on PNG Attitude but let’s try reading between the lines a bit.
These are, of course, my personal observations.
Writing for PNG Attitude isn’t a great deal different to writing for any other platform, be it digital or hardcopy.
It’s really the subject matter that differentiates it from the run-of-the-mill stuff you see published elsewhere about Papua New Guinea.
Keith applies his well-honed editorial skills to the material that is sent to him for consideration, including a special aptitude for interpreting writing that often comes from people whose first language isn’t English.
You don’t have to be an especially accomplished writer to appear on PNG Attitude. As long as you have something to say or a good story to relate, Keith will consider and most likely publish it.
Beyond his editing he acts as a kind of convenor for a myriad of topics, ideas and genres that arrive in his inbox.
He does this on top of extracting interesting and relevant topics from other sources to enhance the mix on the blog.
These topics and ideas arrive either as submitted articles, poems and stories or in the unique Recent Comments section.
This section is very important because it often contains lengthy contributions that are sometimes featured as articles in their own right. This is not the case with other blogs where the comments are usually short, sharp and specifically targeted.
Keith is open minded and will consider material on a wide range of topics even if he doesn’t necessarily agree with the sentiments expressed.
You will have noticed that he has what is euphemistically called a ‘progressive’ leaning and this needs to be taken into account too.
He is unenthusiastic about extreme diatribes from the left and the right and a few correspondents have felt the slash of his editorial pen.
But it doesn’t happen often and, as it’s his blog, at the end of the day he calls the shots.
As publisher and editor Keith is obviously attuned to what his readers want to read. If you want to get your material published on PNG Attitude you also need to be attuned to the readership.
First of all there are a lot of Papua New Guinean readers. This is very unusual for an Australian based blog and helps make PNG Attitude unique.
Those readers are generally, but not necessarily, quite well educated, and of course have access to the internet.
There are also what might be termed secondary readers of the blog. These include the readers of articles that are picked up from the blog by newspapers and other publications in PNG and Australia, which happens frequently.
Regular PNG Attitude readers also pass on interesting articles from the blog to their friends and relatives. They do this either electronically or by word of mouth. How much this happens is hard to determine but it is quite significant.
Keith’s Twitter account, with its 6,600 followers at last count, provides a daily snapshot of the top stories and can also be an interesting forum for debate.
The second major component of the blog’s readership is people in Australia and elsewhere with an interest in PNG. This may come from previous working experiences, particularly during the colonial period.
Keith tells me that, of the 12,000 active blog readers a month, Australia provides 39%, PNG 37%, USA 9%, and the UK and New Zealand 2% each.
This ‘colonial’ group is obviously now quite elderly but this doesn’t mean that they are not up to speed with what is going on or have calcified ideas about the way the world works. By and large these lapuns are knowledgeable, experienced and intelligent.
This fact has created a rather wonderful rapport with Papua New Guinean readers of the blog. The two groups from Australia and PNG, regard each other as friends. To all intents and purposes they are both members of the PNG Attitude ‘family’.
I suspect that the blog as a family of writers and readers is what has kept Keith going with it despite the other commitments in his life. I also suspect that for him the blog is a blessing and a curse at the same time.
The third component of the blog’s readership is made up of what is essentially a silent element. These are the movers and shakers and people in power on both sides of Torres Strait who dip into the blog to see what the ordinary people are talking about. I refer to politicians, diplomats, journalists and senior business people.
It is impossible to quantify this readership but anecdotal evidence suggests it is quite significant. If you want to get into some polly’s ear, writing something for PNG Attitude is worth consideration but you will not necessarily know how successful you have been.
Finally, at a practical level, there are a few other things to consider if you want to publish on PNG Attitude.
Try to keep your contribution short. About 500-700 words is about average. That’s about 12-14kb in computer terms. But reader interest is the main consideration.
Present a logical argument or an entertaining story. Be upbeat if you can, don’t forget the power of humour and satire.
If your topic is sad don’t overdo the pathos, people can work out what you are on about without subjecting them to undue misery.
And lastly, and most importantly, try to get what you write grammatically sound and the spelling correct. Show it to a friend before you submit it if necessary.
Nothing turns an editor off more than a shoddy piece of work.
According to the 1982 edition of Ondobondo Loujaya published 'Sense of Interest' in 1978 when she was 15 years old Stephanie. She is in the contributor's list in the magazine.
Posted by: Philip Fitzpatrick | 08 May 2020 at 03:57 PM
Re PNG writing, Stephanie Alois may find also useful information in the Ondobondo archives, see:-
Posted by: Garry Roche | 07 May 2020 at 08:59 PM
We're doing a Papua New Guinea literature project and were told to do a timeline of PNG writers.
I need your help in telling me the publication date for Loujaya Toni's 'Sense of Interest'. That is if you know the year in which it was published by the education department. I've searched online and got nothing.
Your time and effort is very much appreciated.
I do not know for sure but I’d be pretty certain that 'Sense of Interest' was published around 1982, when Loujaya was still at high school. The following citation is from PNG Attitude in August 2012: "Loujaya Toni (46) was born in Lae. As a young poet, her collection of poems, A Sense of Interest was published by the Education Department. In 1985 she launched a string of solo gospel music albums under the name Loujaya Dunar and is a recognised singer/songwriter." - KJ
Posted by: Stephanie Alois | Divine Word University, Madang | 06 May 2020 at 01:53 PM
The vile calumny implying I was a lapun has been referred to my legal representative at Carter-Ruck
Posted by: Bernard Corden | 02 March 2020 at 07:02 PM
And, Phil, there are also the issues of plagiarism and libel. Obviously Keith has to be very careful with the material he accepts as a number of court cases have shown that it is easier for the "allegedly offended" person to sue the media operator rather than the author of the article.
Posted by: Ross Wilkinson | 02 March 2020 at 01:07 PM