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.