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PNG: The Independent weekly to close after 23 yrs

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PORT MORESBY (Pacnews/Pacific Media Watch): Papua New Guinea's first English weekly newspaper of 23 years standing will cease to exist at the end of this week when The Independent rolls off the press for the last time on Thursday.

However, its sister newspaper, the Tok Pisin Wantok Niuspepa, will continue to be published but under different arrangements due to be announced this week.

The much older Wantok has long been regarded as the flagship of the Port Moresby-based church-run publishing company, Word Publishing Company.

The Independent's closure will leave some 40 Papua New Guinean media personnel, including journalists, printers and sales representative, without jobs.

It is believed that the announcement of the newspaper's closure was made to staff members last Friday.

Word Publishing general manager Jeremy Burgess said he would make a statement "at a later date".

The Independent newspaper has been operating under its current name since May 27, 1995, after changing its founding name, The Times of PNG.

Originally named The Saturday Independent, it later dropped the Saturday and changed printing for sale on Saturday to Thursday.

The company again ceased publishing its business publication, the PNG Trade Monthly and incorporated it into The Independent as a business lift out in 2001 - this was discontinued last week.

It is understood that the decision to discontinue The Independent was made at the shareholders' meeting last Thursday and the announcement made known to its staff by Burgess last Friday.



PACIFIC MEDIA WATCH is an independent, non-profit, non-government organisation comprising journalists, lawyers, editors and other media workers, dedicated to examining issues of ethics, accountability, censorship, media freedom and media ownership in the Pacific region. Launched in October 1996, it has links with the Journalism Program at the University of the South Pacific, Bushfire Media based in Sydney, Journalism Studies at the University of PNG (UPNG), the Australian Centre for Independent Journalism (ACIJ), Auckland University of Technology in New Zealand, and Community Communications Online (c2o).

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