A new magazine in the middle of COVID-19?!

Who would be crazy enough to launch a new magazine during a global pandemic? Guilty. The magazine is called PNG Now, and it’s a brand new lifestyle magazine aimed at readers in the Pacific nation of Papua New Guinea (PNG).

The launch issue of ‘PNG Now’. Click on image to view the digital edition.

Why PNG? we’ve been continuous visitors to the country since 2006 and BAI is publisher of the country’s leading business magazine and hosts an annual investment conference on PNG. We’ve also published the in-flight magazine for PNG’s national airline, Air Niugini, since 2014.

PNG is often misunderstood and under-appreciated as a country. A vibrant democracy, it is one of the most youthful countries in the world, with around 50% of its nine million population under the age of 24. It has an emerging middle class, an increasingly diverse economy (underpinned by major reserves of gold, copper and gas), and has the potential to be one of the food baskets of the Asia-Pacific region.

PNG also has wonderful people – resourceful, passionate, smart, friendly and patriotic – who are the most linguistically diverse on the planet. It is claimed they speak as many as 851 different languages there (not dialects, but languages).

Fortunately, English is one of PNG’s official languages, and that’s the language PNG Now is published in.

We’ve been wanting to publish a lifestyle magazine in PNG for some time. As PNG’s economy has grown over the past 15–20 years (its GDP has quadrupled in that time), so it has developed a fledgling consumer society, diverse hospitality and leisure offerings, improved infrastructure, and a population more connected to the rest of the world – and more aspirational – than ever.

Perhaps launching a new magazine in the middle of the COVID-19 pandemic may seem like a risky proposition, but we’ve always taken a long-term view in our business. It’s a statement about where we feel the country is going, and an expression of our desire to be part of that promising future.

PNG Now features the work of some of PNG’s best writers and photographers, writing on people, places, trends, culture, food and sport.

The first issue features one of PNG’s favourite pop singers on the cover. Alyson Joyce’s music is on Spotify, her videos are on YouTube and her music is a hybrid mix of sophisticated grooves and polished island harmonies.

Inside the magazine, we look at the work of some of PNG’s leading painters, one of whom – Lesley Wengembo – has an entry this year in Australia’s leading portrait contest, the Archibald Prize. His hyper-real portraits have to be seen to be believed.

PNG is the only country in the world for whom rugby league is the national sport and we interview one of its most successful players, Justin Olam, currently playing centre for top NRL side, the Melbourne Storm. PNG is also a rising star in international cricket, with the PNG Barramundis (also featured in the magazine) qualifying for the ICC T20 World Cup.

Like every country, PNG has been affected by the COVID-19 pandemic, but so far it has escaped the fate of many countries in Europe and South America. There are advantages to being an island nation and having a youthful population, it is hoped.

COVID or no, we feel there’s no better time to make a statement about our belief in this fascinating country. Our local partner, broadcaster EMTV, and the many advertisers who have supported the inaugural issue of PNG Now appear to agree.

If you’d like to read the launch issue of magazine, you can view it online here.