Co-opting Jordan’s Electronic Media, Jordanian Blogs Status & Other Media Realizations

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 association’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”.


  • That being said.

    Dude, I love your writing style and all, but you should lay off on these pauses, it’s a bit annoying. 🙂

  • a conversation requires atleast two parties and blogs depend on conversations, so without the evolution of all parties involved there is no evolution. chances are, from my couple of years on here, that it will hardly happen.
    In the past two years i have been seeing the same people express the same opinions and stand for the same things and try to “innovate” using the same old formula and the misery of the situation is that they think they are fresh…. thats from one side
    on the other the audience tends to mimick their tenacity and taking a stance and holding on to it nail and tooth. and always tend to be dismissive and pessimistic and conversation or thoughts never materialize into anything in reality (except for a couple of cases thats all)
    I don’t blame either side, personally i see myself part of the problem, the main issue is that the level of exposure that blogs get doesn’t allow for any fruitful conversation to develop because of the limited number of local participants

    So if you want to get the same treatment as the sensationalist craptronic media that we have now, you need to appeal to the public that reads those …. (some how i tend to think thats not a move in the right direction personally and hence why i don’t bother and rather be part of the problem in this aspect than the solution)

  • One has not to worry right now. In your previous post you spoke about how the internet is essential but elitist, as not so many people can enjoy it due to the high cost; so the electronic media remains a high end; a totally different case to that of the daily papers, or any form of print, which is accessible to all.
    The Jordanian blogosphere, although intriguing, although influential sometimes, lacks the popularity base – the political power (the drive force represented by party politics), as can be seen in other Arab and foreign countries. Without a strong influential base to attract followers or a certain-mind-oriented readership, it remains premature. Lets face it, what age is the blogosphere phenomena in Jordan, can you compare it to a more mature (although not enjoying a total freedom) Jordanian press? Very unlikely!
    The printed press still enjoys a wide readership in Jordan; I cannot name 2 people I know who never looked through the pages of a local paper, or a Jordanian glossy. The fact that most of the Jordanian blogs are in English; a language enjoyed by an even more elitist group; is a constraint. The availability of spare time is another; for who can afford to spend some of his/her time tracking blogs or engaging in cultural and controversial dialogues unless compromising some productive income-generating time of some sort.
    I am not trying to refer to blogs as a luxury enjoyed by a certain group of people, who happen to possess the means and not the power needed to start things; somehow it might be the opposite, and that this elite group of people can be the most influential in society, given that they possess certain means and talents.
    I am optimistic though, and I hope that bloggers can get their voices heard and compete with other form of media, at least they’re planting a tree right now, knowing that in its shade someone will sit one day (whether co-opted or not!) 🙂

  • Ah. I long for the day when our government realises that thought, in all its forms, no matter how sensationalist or how radical, can only be chllanged by counter-thought. Not control, not legislation, nor cooption – just counter-thought.
    But when the government itself cannot offer coherent thought, vision and direction, then the status quo resembles a thoughtless, petty battle. Certainly not a fight for the public good.

  • I don’t understand how the government can continue to justify media control. I don’t mean this statement from a philosophical, “freedom of speech is a human right” point of view, rather, from a much simpler practical perspective. In a time when most people have access to news outlets beyond the state’s borders (satellite tv, internet, even foreign newspapers) it seems to try and control the media is a folly which cannot be justified. I mean, either do the job properly, as they do in China, or not at all. The time and expense these people must spend trying to make sure the world is not at odds with official
    statements can surely be better utilized.

  • Hi all,

    I wanted to clarify a couple of points. First I assure you of the government’s commitment to translate His Majesty’s vision of a free and professional media into reality on the ground. The government has no intention whatsoever to “control” the media. On the contrary it is fully aware that even if it wants to, in this day and age you cannot control access to information nor can you prevent people from expressing their opinions. Second, If you follow wat we are doing and saying these days, it is very clear that we want the media sector itself to shoulder the responsibility of setting professional and ethical standards. No government-imposed formula will produce the desired results. The government will certainly assist and provide support but take ownership of this endeavour. Media is a culture and our society at large should belong to this culture, Whether its electronic, print or any other medium, freedom ends when you infringe on the freedom of others. Thorough investigation, unbiased objective reporting,steering clear of personal attacks and slander, are all the other side of the equation that begins with freedom of expression and access to information. Rights and obligations! this what makes modern societies prosper. That being said……. 🙂 I don’t mind the pauses!

    Keep well..

    Nasser S. Judeh

  • The sentence half-way through should have read “but NOT take ownership….” ooops freudian slip there… 🙂

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