BY KEITH JACKSON
IT HASN’T BEEN A GREAT YEAR for The National newspaper in Papua New Guinea.
Owned by logging giant Rimbunan Hijau, The National has often seemed to be a bit, well, shall we say, tentative, in its reportage of RH’s multiple business interests.
And the organ has also shown some enthusiasm about litigation in dealing with its critics, especially rival newspaper, the Post-Courier.
Then there was the Malum Nalu incident, where The National’s senior reporter and blogger travelled to Pomio to cover a Greenpeace action against a timber ship and seemed to confuse his role as a journalist with RH’s business interests.
Not to mention the anonymous, obscene and manic email campaign against RH critics (especially women) which RH and The National, to the best of our knowledge, have never distanced themselves from despite public requests to do so.
Now the PNG social media is alive with what is being termed “The National's war on the O'Neill-Namah government.”
The PNG Exposed blog and other channels are reporting that Brian Gomez, a publicist associated with Arthur Somare, has been used by The National to deliver broadsides “to make sure the new O'Neill-Namah Government is covered in bad news”.
And who dropped this gem into the public arena? Well it seems it was a no less authoritative source than The National’s own journalists, clearly angered by the situation.
PNG Exposed reports that “some National journos are talking about going to TI [Transparency International] but are worried about losing jobs. They said Gomez has been brought up from Sydney to do the dirty work because no-one else will.”
Over the last couple of years, the social media have emerged as a considerable force in PNG national affairs.
Now they are beginning to exert real pressure on those who might choose to err.