Fixing Journalism in Jordan

Recent events, such as the alleged McCain allegations (which some people are still convinced with, apparently) and the Jordan Festival normalization ‘suspicions’ that came very close to cancelling it, have revealed serious incompetence on the part of the press. The journalists are blaming the government’s lack of transparency for the spread of rumors. This may have been a factor, but there’s more to it than that, I’m sure.
Maybe it’s because in Jordan, journalism, as a career, is not thought very highly of. The mentality that compels our high-achieving students to become doctors or engineers is still very much alive. Or maybe it’s because we only used to have access to government-owned newspapers for a long time, then suddenly became exposed to online media with all its candor, which led some people to abuse it. Or maybe it’s because journalists were not acquainted with journalism ethics in the first place.
Whatever it is, there have been recent steps to improve the situation. The Council of Higher Education has raised the admission average to the faculty of journalism in Al-Yarmouk University from 65% to 70%. King Abdullah has created a private fund for providing proper training for journalists to improve journalism in Jordan and push it a step forward. News websites are vowing to adhere to the standards set by the union.
Controlling media in Jordan is definitely not the answer, especially when it comes to online media, simply because it cannot be done. You ban one website, another’s going to pop up the next day. It’s about reintroducing ethics and standards. It’s about education.

9 responses to “Fixing Journalism in Jordan

  1. “Something else we are trying to do is turn religious training into a master’s program. Up until now, the situation was that the students with the worst grades on their tawjihi (high school graduation) tests had two options—journalism or religious affairs. The result is obvious, in both fields.”Guess whose words are these?

  2. King Abdullah.

  3. But the government is to be partly blamed for the spread of rumours. Other than the fact that our people are obsessed with rumours and feed on them, the lack of transparency on the government’s side does fuel the situation. For example up and till HM’s interview, no clear-cut answer about Publicis and the Jordan Festival was officially given. And the people were left to rely on online news sources for information. Which is not a good idea as it turns out.

  4. So the next question becomes: what has been done since he spoke those words in 2005? Did the quality improve? Admission policies changed? Or did they just tried to co-opt as much as they can by giving them a new building for their union and giving away land to journalists? He also forgot to mention teachers: Pay a visit to the “tarabeyeh” college at any university..Things that make you go: Hmmmm..

  5. Yazan, I totally agree. But I feel like we all immediately went and blamed the government and forgot to ask: hey who started those rumors in the first place? Why aren’t these people being punished? Mohanned, there have been several steps, like the ones I mentioned and more you can read at the link, to improve the situation. You can’t expect tangible changes immediately. Baby steps. As for the teachers, just check the madrasati initiative. Have some faith man. When it comes to the royal family in particular, they’re doing a lot to improve the situation. Why not ask what the MPs have been up to?

  6. polishing the surface with initiatives won’t help if the core cause of the problem is ignored. As for the MPs they are a product of a racist rotten electoral system. Those who have the power to change the system and don’t are to blame.

  7. You see this as improvement? I see this as a new chapter in the same old policies!New university? For what? We already have a zillion ones that are becoming no more than a shopping mall for degrees! Well I guess I look at thing differently, new university, more neoptism, more wastas, more corruption and more fanatics!

  8. Richard Brennan

    A very interesting post. As a journalism student in Britain, it’s interesting to see how journalism is taught elsewhere in the world.

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