Why is the media absent in crises?

Maher Abu Tair (Photo: JNews)
On more than one occasion, the media has failed to provide its narrative or information on certain crises through which Jordan has gone. Media outlets have also struggled in light of certain sensitivities and the fact they have been blocked from accessing information.اضافة اعلان

We are thereby pushing audiences to look for alternatives, which now comprise social media channels, hearsay and misinformation, in addition to foreign news outlets. This has happened on several occasions, including the attempted assassination of a Palestinian official in the mid-1970s in Jordan, the Amman bombings, and the latest stories that we have been hearing. Every time, local media has been absent but that is not due to its poor capabilities, but rather from officials’ lack of cooperation and information, as well as a tendency to avoid interaction with Jordanian media.

What is noteworthy here is that local media is always the one shouldering the blame, whether for its role, lack of credibility, or inefficacy, despite the funds that go into sustaining Jordan’s media sector or developing an alternative for it.

The source of this blame is official entities and audiences alike, each of them asking about the absence of Jordanian media and its narrative during crises and wondering why it cannot at least compete when it comes to providing information, analysis, and influencing public opinion.

It is high time to deal differently with the Jordanian media in a way that does not weaken it in the public eye nor foster the conditions for its absence — regardless of sensitivities — because the void that it leaves behind will be filed by various professional, unprofessional, and political entities of all kinds.

This will in turn affect audiences, cause instability, and foster rumors, which will further complicate the media’s mission in convincing people that the information they receive from different sources are completely or partially untrue.

How could all forms of Jordanian media be absent in such an open world where it is easy for Jordanians to find both professional and unprofessional alternatives? The threat we now face is the flow of information during crises, especially in the absence or delay of an official narrative.

If we were to go back to the experiences of various countries from the last decade, we would find that they have dealt with crises in one of two ways: Either through controlled-foreign media or social media, which can be particularly dangerous for any state, its stability, and audience.

It is very strange that we do not examine and learn from these crises, to reshape media institutions, but rather leave the country victim to lies and hearsay — or even truth that comes from the outside. Such conditions threaten the infrastructure of any country and this is an issue that has been addressed before. Many falsely believe that the fault lies with the media, when the truth is it would be entirely capable if it were to be provided with the space to succeed.

Media has become an industry and a means to foster positivity. However to do so, it needs freedom, financial support, and protection from political and legal instability, in addition to a clear, professional definition of its vital role in molding and securing the image of states and individuals.

The media is also responsible for uncovering the truth, even if some are uncomfortable with it or do not accept the fact. The media will remain absent, weak, and ineffective as long as Jordan remains open to external elements that shape its consciousness and opinion, and control them in other ways.