Following publication of report, journalists agree that media freedoms are declining

camera recording press conference
(File photo: Jordan News)
AMMAN — Local journalists interviewed by Jordan News concurred with the findings of a recent report conducted by the Center for Defending Freedom of Journalists on the state of the media in the country, which revealed, among others, that 96 percent of Jordanian journalists do not see the government as a defender of the freedom of the press.اضافة اعلان

The report, titled “Under threat”, shed light on the state of the media, and on the political, economic, and legal environment in which journalists operate, in five Arab countries — Jordan, Palestine, Lebanon, Tunisia and Morocco — in 2021.

According to Jfranews journalist Ahmad Al-Ghalayini, “the government protects the media that comply with it. Criticizing the work of the government and revealing issues that will cause it some trouble is not tolerated by the government.”

“Therefore, the government is rarely transparent when speaking to journalists about certain public issues,” he said, stressing that media freedoms, in general, will not be fully protected as long as there is a security grip on local media.”

He also stressed that there will be “no progress, nor protection of media freedoms as long as media professionals are not protected”.

“The government should create an official entity to protect media professionals, as well as an interactive platform on which to answer journalists’ questions,” he said.

Editor-in-chief of Jo24 Basil Okoor told Jordan News that “the government does not support media institutions that criticize its performance. It basically follows the approach of whoever is not with me is against me”.

He added that “the government does not want real and transparent media, as reflected in the laws, the latest of which saw some tougher articles related to media freedom in the Penal Code and the Cybercrime Law”.

“There is an official government siege of the media, which the legislation helps strengthen, as well as means to weaken independent institutions whose visions are not in line with the government’s policies,” said Okoor.

“There is a dramatic decline in media freedoms, and successive governments have been contributing to that,” he said, urging governments to “release their grip over media institutions and amend legislation to make it more flexible”.

According to freelance journalist Mohammad Shamma, “the government approach pushes journalists to exercise self-censorship”; at the same time, journalists face many restrictions while doing their jobs, “including difficulty accessing information”.

He urged the government to “stop toughening restrictive media laws, banning the publication of important issues, monitoring journalists work, including on social media”.

Read more Features
Jordan News