Blogging for social change in Papua New Guinea: a case study investigation of The Namorong Report
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The media landscape in Papua New Guinea (PNG) has recently been undergoing a dramatic change. Greater access to mobile media technologies and expanding communications infrastructure are fundamentally altering the ways Papua New Guineans participate in personal and mass communications. A new social media culture is emerging, one characterised by assertive, highly critical Papua New Guineans who are increasingly discontented with a political environment that is often complicit in the exploitation of PNG's natural resources. This research focuses on one important figure in this new vanguard of social media actors: Martyn Namorong, and his blog, The Namorong Report. By utilising the emerging social media network and strategically engaging in online dialogue, Namorong has become one of PNG’s most influential alternative political and social commentators. He challenges conventional understandings of development and actively seeks to alter the political direction and social trajectory of PNG. Using his blog as the specific case for analysis, this research asks the question: how does Martyn Namorong, through his blog, assert himself as an important initiator of social change in PNG? A calculated rationale organises Namorong's blogging output. Permeating his blog posts is a carefully conceived critique of western-driven development in PNG. Within his criticism, Namorong fosters a shared sense of identity while articulating a model for the equitable development of PNG. Namorong carefully defends his vision using the values and ideas of PNG's National Goals and Directive Principles drawn from the Constitutional Planning Committee Report (1974). This thesis makes an early contribution to understanding PNG's nascent social media landscape. More broadly it documents a potentially important moment in time, capturing the growing public sentiment of resistance towards the subjugation of Papua New Guineans through resource exploitation and western-conceptions of development, progress, and modernity. It reflects on the potential role of bloggers and social media activists in PNG and the wider Melanesian region at a time where mobile and internet communications, infrastructure, and services are rapidly altering the social-political landscape.