Even since the King held a meeting earlier this month with the chief editors of the Kingdom’s dailies, there has been some movement with regards to media reform. I have to say, I wouldn’t really call it media reform any more. Media in Jordan, at this point, is what it is. There seems to be the tendency to view any movement forward as “reform”, so I’ve decided to put a more economic spin on the term and categorize it more along the lines of a recession; two consecutive “quarters” of positive growth can now be considered “reform”.
In any case.
These moves on the media scene have varied but mostly revolved around changing/reviewing legislation, and mostly the kind of legislation that has to do with restrictions on journalists.
But when it comes to changing laws, even the Jordan Press Association is reviewing its own bylaws, which if in my opinion, are simply a secondary system of restrictions in case the judicial system fails to do its thing. And in that context, Abdul Wahab Zgheilat, president of the Jordan Press Association said something I found fairly interesting: “The amendments to the JPA bylaw will aim at expanding the associationâ€™s membership base to include journalists working in electronic media and the audiovisual outlet.”
There is no doubt that electronic media has proven to be a hassle for the mainstream who flat out do not accept it but must reluctantly do so in the same way people who clung to typewriters eventually gave in to the computer. Some of Jordan’s electronic media does have sensationalist tendencies, with some bordering towards the tabloidish, but in a country like Jordan I’m just as unlikely to believe an article in a mainstream paper as I would an electronic website.
The second thing to note here is that such statements, and many others like it, point to a trend where the state is declaring its intentions, in one way or another, to co-opt electronic media. It is done with the appearance of a welcoming-open-arms approach, but in reality, I’m likely to believe that they see a need to bring electronic media to the fold in order to control them and force them to abide by local legislation like any other media outlet.
That being said.
The state (or even general) definition of “electronic media” does not include blogs.
I think that while there is a realization that electronic media must be controlled, there is also a simultaneous realization that blogs cannot be controlled. At least not without shutting down half the Internet at this point.
In media circles, the term “blog” is being taken with a bit more caution these days, which is a change of pace from the once apathetic if not dismissive tone people used to take. And when I say people here I do mean media professionals. Because in this country, journalists are just as, if not more aggressive when it comes to the concept of blogs and blogging. This was the same tone taken with electronic media only a year or two ago.
That being said.
There may come a time when blogging will be viewed along those same lines. In truth, electronic and mainstream media in Jordan are slowly discovering that they are not the adversaries they once thought they were, but in fact, quite the contrary. They are one in the same. Their business models differ and their ability to break news in relation to speed differ, but they are one in the same. Even their audiences do, at least on a Venn diagram, intersect in some capacity.
If Jordanian blogs ever evolve or mature to levels proportionate to neighboring blogospheres (specifically the Egyptian), then suffice to say, efforts on some level of government or even the JPA might begin to emerge in an effort to co-opt bloggers (in the best of cases) or subdue their voices and the communities that have formed around them (in the worst of cases).
Again, this will depend largely on how the local blogosphere evolves, which direction it decides to take, be it in the shape of a conscious, collective force or an individial, separatist voice, as well as that earlier definition of “reform”.