This is just a short rant about something that’s been on my mind lately. Over the years I’ve been called on by numerous people to talk about the Jordanian blogosphere. Many of those people tend to be foreign journalists or graduate students who are researching the extent to which blogs in Jordan create political change. The topics are usually the same, the questions are usually the same and my answers are usually the same. More recently, perhaps over the span of the past year, I’ve gotten more calls by local Jordanian “journalists”. Why? Well, it sometimes feels like journalism in Jordan is merely a follower of what western media dishes out. Blogs have been commonly rejected by mainstream journalists and journalism institutions in this country, with many passing them off as a mere fad. Over a decade later, I think it’s time to stop calling it a fad and start calling it a pillar of modern Web-based, citizenry communication. It’s a longer description, but it suits it.
The questions I get from these “journalists” have pushed me to declare a personal moratorium on any such future interviews. Every question is filled to the brim with cynicism as if they are defining me as a lesser life form.
Why aren’t Jordanian bloggers creating political change?
While a foreign graduate student is perhaps forgiven for making such an inquiry, a Jordanian “journalist” should know better. My answer has now become: since when has mainstream media in Jordan created any political change?
Isn’t it just another fad?
This is a question you might have asked five years ago. But today? Really?
Then a bunch of other cliche questions follow, such as:
– Why do you and others blog in English?
– How credible do you think blogs are?
– How widely read do you think they are in Jordan?
– Have you ever gotten in to trouble for saying anything on your blog?
– Why do you blog?
And so on, and so forth.
These are, of course, questions derived from a lack of understanding as to what blogging is about. A blog is not seen as a modern tool for communication but rather a foreign object that is attacking the principles of journalism, which in itself is strange to me because many of those principles are not really applied in Jordanian media today anyway. Bloggers are all deemed to be journalists, and thus the blogger who blogs about his pet cat or her love for rainbows is perceived to be a lesser life form; an amateur journalist. Why Jordanian journalists equate blogging with journalism is beyond me, but they insist on it.
To top things off, all these questions end up producing an idiotic article about blogging in Jordan that sounds more like a social studies report conducted by a 12 year old.
Journalism has a legacy of disappointment in Jordan, but whenever I get a call from a journalist asking to talk about blogs and blogging I’m overcome with a tidal wave of deja vu. Also, I don’t know where they get my number from, and moreover, why they insist on me handing out the numbers of any bloggers I know. As if this was a normal thing to ask for.
Makes me wonder if it’s really a journalist on the other end.
Yes. Some local editors and writers have a strong contempt for blogging, I have found. It is like a personal affront to a pillar of journalistic integrity or something.
Are you upset that Jordanian journalists confuse blogging with journalism? I think the fact that they do is one of the ways to really understand the magnitude that blogging has had on communication in the age of the internet. Sure, they feel threatened by blogs, they feel uneasy about a whole digital revolution that is changing how things were at one point… Can’t really blame them.
I think their confusion with blogging as a means of Journalism is actually derived from blogging in the western world. You see, blogging has created political change abroad. Remember the U.S elections campaigns carried out on YouTube? Obama had his own blog? Remember these? So I figure that these journalists that ask you such questions are not referring to the blogger who is talking about his pet or his last date, or his favorite movie… I believe they are asking why blogging has not been adopted as a serious communication medium for achieving / dispensing political and social goals / attitudes.
To that I would answer that things are different in Jordan. We can’t just yet publicly disclose information about who we are on our own blog side by side with an article pointing fingers at government or authority. Now don’t get me wrong, some bloggers do blog about important issues concerning politics, but not the extent that Jordanian journalists would come to notice significatnt political change as a direct result of blogging. That will take some time.
Just my two cents.
Oh, and where’s my Piaster? (“A Piaster for your thoughts…”)
You owe me.
it is not the integrity of traditional or printed media they are worried about. they are afraid of competition. how many young people read printed media? i do believe that blogs are better off focusing on social change since we need it more.
have you ever considered pursuing a research degree on the topic yourself? There is, even academically, a large vacuum of studies on the topic…. that way, when journalists call you up, you can just forward them your journal article 🙂 [and obviously contribute to academia, human thought and understanding of modern society].
What is there to study on the topic? Blogging is online media. Yay. Degree.
I wouldn’t say all these questions are cliche. The one about blogging in English is a valid one because it addresses the issue of your blog’s desired audience, which is undoubtedly relevant to the main question about initiating political change. I don’t think you’re oblivious to the ideas people in Jordan have about those who communicate in English while they’re perfectly fluent in Arabic.
I guess sometimes journalists ask questions that sound cliche because even if they know the answer, they have to hear it from the person in concern and can’t just assume that he/she thinks of it this way and take it for granted, so although they can easily tell you about what you think, they will still have to use your own words. I guess the majority of the articles we read in the local press are all alike, you wont have to read the whole article to get the point because they dont offer any new analysis, just the very same stances of two different mindsets, some quotes from people that you are very familiar with and that’s it. To be fair, Al Sijjil monthly magazine is the only ray of light I can see appearing for the local press, this one can surprise you with the courage and candor, the creativity and some original ideas. by the way, we can’t always place the entire blame on journalists, as they remain a part of a society that doesnt believe in diversity and isnt really familiar with the idea of speaking out, this is obviously apparent when you try to get people to express their views, they either refuse or ask to have their names and identities withheld, just check how many times the phrase ” a person who preferred anonymity ” is used, I may be going out of the way but I am just saying what I believe is deterring the emergence of a media we want ( which may be irrelevant to this particular post ), but I just wanted to say that I am sure many journalists and citizens in general aren’t content with the traditional ways, they may have outstanding ideas but the society where we live has a very long way to go before it can support those people. This is not to say that people who seek the change must submit to this reality, I agree that they must challenge it but I can also see the point why sometimes they have to wait and for the meantime submit to it.
By the way, I am also a Jordanian journalist, an amateur journalist maybe, and so I may see the issue through that perspective.
well i wouldnt underestimate blogs too much .. a lot of arab bloggers get in trouble with authorities so they cant be that insignificant
In my view blogging, being a recent blogger, is something and triggering political change or change in general is another. Then there are the other factors of who could potentially be your audiance targeted on a certain website ..? If a website is offering and delivering decent info, interaction, well backed by its owner and is able to publish with a certain extent of freedom different views and opinions then no doubt it will attract different types of bloggers from all over Jordan not to mention the whole world. Result is it will influence change but it may take time in doing so.
I came across this wonderful website earlier this month and for the 1st time in my life I placed a comment on the internet..!!
The matter was very dear to my heart and it touched a personal ordeal that I have had (still have) and hope to overcome soon.
Guess what – I got someone to contact me offering his assistance to this very dear and sensitive matter which I felt greatly touched by. It would be a total positive experience and I would owe him a lot more than just a ‘Thank You’ if he manages to pull this one out for me..! Since Sun, this week,I am anxious to hear, hopefully good news, from him.
Lesson is blogging could trigger change..I guess I will have to wait a bit longer to see for myself..!
pisses me off… yall are the real journalists. creativity is an incomprehensible concept to most Jordanians. Thinking outside the box is unthoughtful of. And most importantly, the slightest upset to the system or any of institutions is treated with zero social tolerance.
well thats kinda harsh but i guess its true for the most part
Please save me from being mistaken for a journalist. After all, I’m fairly certain I couldn’t even read the rules of Jordanian journalism… Happily, I don’t think anyone has EVER mistaken me (as a blogger) for a journalist (even an amateur one). It is interesting that the journalists don’t come up with a new perspective or insight, basically a new hook. It seems like when one group publishes something, the others rush out to publish an article on the same topic, rather than generating new content and ideas… Unforunately, creativity is not as prevalent in Jordan as could be desired given the scarcity of natural resources and reliance on human ones.
I will say, though, that blogging is likely to impact social change in Jordan. Perhaps it will even influence political change. We can’t say right now what the impact of blogging has been. That’s for history to write in the future. From my perspective, unlike in the US where every Tom, Dick, and Harriet has a blog, bloggers in Jordan have been those on the leading edge. They will begin the conversation, but until it moves beyond the enfranchised elite to the really average common man, change will be slow in coming. And, after all, admitting there is a problem is half the battle, right? So, if bloggers are simply admitting the problem and causing others to think about it as well, that’s a win IMHO.