BY KEITH JACKSON AM, Publisher & Editor
The first thing I should tell you is that I agree with many of the views expressed in PNG Attitude and disagree with others but that I publish material I believe is of interest to readers and that I think deserves to be published whether I agree with it or not. All correspondence will be entered into.
PNG Attitude was established in 2006 to address a major issue: the silence that for too long after PNG independence in 1975 existed between Papua New Guineans and Australians.
Regular citizens - people like us - didn't much communicate with each other. And this was after we’d spent a century thrown together by the winds of colonialism – a period during which many of us got to know each other very well.
That post-independence silence denied what had been a great friendship and a close relationship.
So, propelled by the development of social media, PNG Attitude began with the goal of playing a small part in ensuring that the silence was replaced by a mutual conversation between the people of our two countries, and those beyond who feel a connection with PNG.
To a large extent we have managed to address this challenge. The blog shows this as it moves towards 16,000 articles and 50,000 comments, a daily readership of about 3,000 and a Twitter following of some 7,500.
PNG Attitude is committed to strengthening the people-to-people relationship between Papua New Guineans and Australians and to take on projects that will enhance that relationship. As age and ailment take their toll, we have pretty much set aside the many projects we previously undertook but continue to play a major role in encouraging Papua New Guineans to write creatively and critically and to communicate with each other and the world beyond.
The blog itself does not seek to impose a world view or ideology on its readers other than that it holds in special esteem the people of Papua New Guinea. Its aim is to provide a forum and meeting place where people interested in the PNG–Australia relationship can exchange opinions, stories, ideas, creativity, hopes, whatever.
We want Papua New Guineans to know that there are many Australians, and other people throughout the world, who are mindful and sensitive of their concerns and issues. We want outsiders to get to know Papua New Guineans better.
PNG Attitude provides a link between people of goodwill who want to perpetuate this relationship.
PNG Attitude is motivated by your support and by your words and by the thought we may be able to do some good. Our bias is towards Papua New Guinea and especially towards its people. We believe the PNG government should be doing better for them. We believe the Australian government should be doing better for PNG.
PNG Attitude has often used the power and leverage of its readership to do some good works. Activities like the Crocodile Prize national literary contest, book publishing, mentoring promising writers, enabling PNG writers to travel outside the country, providing charitable support, bringing long-separated people together and events promotion give a practical aspect to our role.
That said, our primary function is the exposition of words and ideas - the provision and exchange of information and opinion - and using this to maintain important relationships.
Do not expect PNG Attitude to solve many problems. But it will raise them, debate them and espouse solutions that others may see as worthwhile. Amongst our readers are many people in positions where they can achieve things, but most of us are on the sidelines.
ASOPA is the acronym of the Australian School of Pacific Administration, which you can read more about in Attitude Extra. The original website occupied by this space and begun in February 2006 was called ASOPA People, which was established to commemorate and keep alive the traditions and comradeship of an institution which trained many young Australians to pursue careers in Papua and in New Guinea when both were Australian territories. It evolved and changed to adopt a wider and more complex brief, as you can see by looking at PNG Attitude today.
PNG Attitude is not a formal organisation. It is one publisher, hundreds of contributors and 10-15,000 readers, averaging about 2,500 each day. PNG Attitude doesn’t do meetings. There’s no annual report. No one gets paid. No one’s ordered around. We just get on with it.
People read us because they want to, access us without charge and contribute when they feel like it. We are fortunate to have so many experienced and talented contributors who regularly share their views and insights.
PNG Attitude is published from the editor’s computers at his office in Noosa, Queensland, Australia. The view from his window is of blue sky and Pandanus palms.
You can contribute to either of these sections of PNG Attitude.
Main Page. If you have a story, article, commentary or poem on a subject related to the purpose of PNG Attitude you can submit it for publication (email the editor here.)
Comments. The best comments are short and to the point. Insert them directly into the website by clicking on the Comments link at the end of each article. All comments are mediated by the editor before publication.
PNG Attitude not only welcomes your contributions, it depends on them to maintain a lively, relevant and informed website. But there are some rules. (There are always rules.)
Rule 1 is that, when it comes to publishable material, the editor’s word is final. If you do not like your words being edited, this is not the place for you.
Most contributions are edited. Why? Because it is a simple truth that people who write are not always the best judges of how their words will be understood by people who read.
Nor are most people familiar with the laws of defamation. Having had some narrow scrapes, the editor has a pretty good working knowledge of the laws that seek to stop you untruthfully destroying the reputation of others.
People sometimes mistake their strongly held beliefs for more general truths. We try to our best to differentiate between opinion and fact and fake. The last will only be published if it slips through the eye of our needle.
And people do not always fully comprehend the effect of their words on others. We don't want - and have never really experienced - the character assassination, offence and ill temper that characterises much social media.
That said, PNG Attitude admires its contributors. We are deeply grateful for their knowledge, commitment and passion. And we are humbled because they give a damn. They care. They have our unending gratitude.
Your contribution to PNG Attitude may be edited for any one or a combination of these reasons:
Defamation. We use the defamation laws of Australia as our guide when deciding whether or not a contributor may have gone too far with personal criticism of another person. You always need to be careful when accusing someone of a crime or of poor character. But, if you’re not careful, we’ll be careful for you.
Offence. Abusive language, racist remarks and other words designed to hurt, generate excessive conflict or cause unreasonable offence to other people are not tolerated and will always be edited. We encourage the expression of strong opinions, but we want contributors to be fair in presenting them.
Length. The average reader spends about three minutes reading PNG Attitude each visit. All our editing is done from the perspective of this typical reader. We do want people to read what you write, not give up halfway or because the headline does not appeal. Contributions which are so long they make an excessive demand on readers will probably be trimmed.
Clarity. If you’re not thinking clearly, it’s unlikely your words will emerge clearly on the page. Big words are not necessarily good words. Long sentences do not triumph over short sentences. Five ideas in one paragraph do not get a special prize. If we do not think you are communicating clearly, we will do our best through editing to try to make sure you do.
Relevance. Some contributors, eager to grind pet axes wherever they can, think just because they mention ‘Papua New Guinea’ somewhere in their writing that they have attained the state of grace known as ‘relevance’. They haven’t.
Truth. If we believe that a statement may be untrue or non-factual, we will try to establish the facts and vary your contribution accordingly. If the whole thing is riddled with falsehoods or disingenuity it will be spiked.
Spelling, grammar and punctuation. If errors in these departments detract from the content of what you have written, or inadvertently make you look foolish, we will correct them.
Repetition. Is boring and will be eliminated.
We believe, in general, that it is better to have matters out in the open where they can be addressed rather than lurking in the dark as shabby untruths that people may believe because they know no better.
By nature the publisher is not a censorial person. But PNG Attitude will protect its own position and reputation by eliminating defamatory and offensive remarks and words. While we will try to rescue remnants of defamatory and offensive articles, contributors should not test our patience too much.
If we believe a contributor is abusing the privilege of reaching an audience through this website, or is in some other way undermining the integrity of what we do, it is possible this person may be electronically ‘blocked’ from accessing the site. This has happened only a handful of times in our 14 year history.
We discourage the use of pseudonyms (false names), initials, first names without last names and pen names (e.g., ‘Concerned Mother’), and will almost always reject your contribution in such cases. Any contribution with a false email address will be deleted upon detection.
There are some cases where people are legitimately concerned that the publication of their name may endanger them or in some other way be a threat to them. At such times, you should let the editor know the circumstances and your case will be treated with great consideration.
Sometimes people use false names to cover up disinformation (which by its nature is unethical) or to avoid disclosing the true motives of people or organisations which may have a vested interest or a conflict of interest.
False names may also be used as a shield behind which people who do not want to be associated with their own views for whatever reason feel they can launch cowardly attacks on others without detection. In all such cases, we will delete your contribution.
PNG Attitude treats each case on its merits. But a credible, believable and persuasive contribution will almost invariably appear under the real name of its author.
Let us know if you wish to use a pen name, why you wish to use it and provide us with your real name and email as a sign of good faith. We will not disclose your name if there may be some real threat to you in doing so.
Readers do not generally object to conflict (after all, the mass media thrive on it), but in PNG Attitude we draw a line at that point where conflict becomes personal and switches readers off instead of turning them on.
Sometimes a public forum represents a tempting way to lash out at someone you dislike or whose opinions you despise. On these occasions we scrutinise how views are expressed and, if legitimate criticism turns to abuse, the offending words are removed.
PNG Attitude adopts a general view that comment is free but facts are sacred. But we do not necessarily delete misconceived comment, unless it is likely to mislead and possible harm ensue. But is may very well be edited.
It is always the case in public discourse that wrong and unfair things are said and that sometimes villains are elevated and good people traduced. This is not something of which we approve and we will use our judgement to determine whether a particular view offers fair comment or is unfair and needs to be moderated.
Given the professed intention of PNG Attitude to build stronger links between our two countries, it is proper for readers to ask why we often take a critical view of PNG's political leadership and of Australian policy towards Papua New Guinea.
We have no particular axe to grind with individual politicians but we are deeply concerned with how ordinary people are affected by the decisions and actions of politicians and public servants.
We support entrepreneurship (the publisher spent 25 years establishing and running his own company), but we have no truck with business people who exploit or harm ordinary people in the name of free enterprise.
PNG Attitude seeks to influence people to do the right thing and this necessarily means that, from time to time, it will criticise.
We are especially critical of corruption, which is an unfortunate part of life in PNG and increasingly so in Australia and which harms and denies the rights of ordinary people.
Let's be blunt about it, plagiarism (that is, taking someone else's ideas or words and claiming them as your own) is a pretty low act. It's no better than stealing.
Plagiarism is bad at any time but becomes of crucial importance where something hangs on the result: like stealing someone else's words and submitting them to the Crocodile Prize. Where we detect plagiarism, it is exposed. Thankfully, we have had very few cases.
This document is added to and amended from time to time. Please feel free to comment on it or suggest ideas that may improve or augment it in an email to the publisher.
Published January 2011
Updated October 2013
Updated January 2015
Updated February 2017
Updated February 2018
Updated September 2019
Updated March 2021