Monday, June 25, 2012

'Jordanian Officials Seek To Roll Back Arab Spring in Media'

"... The media, which had long been under the control of the regime, was not far from the Spring winds. During the protests that erupted in early 2011, news websites acted as a barricade that sheltered the people whenever they overstepped the red lines — which they often did. On the other hand, the official and semi-official media outlets were forced to change their positions — at least partially — to lose the stigma of their alleged “collaboration.”The increase in media freedom during the Arab Spring was addressed in a special report issued by the Center for Defending the Freedom of Journalists (CDFJ) in May 2011. According to the report, 15.4% of journalists find that media freedom has increased significantly, compared to the nearly 0% who thought so in previous similar reports.
The recognition of the progress in media freedom was accompanied by an acknowledgement of the key role of the new media, as 83% of the journalists acknowledged this fact despite their previous criticism of the news websites and demands that they adhere to a code of professional conduct....
However, he was not very optimistic about the impact of the Arab Spring on the state-run media outlets, saying “The state media, unlike the new media, has not yet been affected by the spring of revolutions.” Mansour noted that the freedom indices for the state radio and television channel and the official news agency Petra have all dropped, as these institutions are still subject to official censorship.
Mansour praises the decline of self-censorship by journalists, interference of the security apparatuses and frequency of media blackouts, but he is fearful of an emerging trend where media personalities are targeted. The number of physical attacks on members of the media reached a record high during 2011. The report registered 160 violations, ranging from beatings to death threats. This phenomenon is described by Mansour as “thuggery against the media,” which is similar to the “thuggery” practiced against the popular movements.....
When security authorities began to arrest journalists, this bias turned into an alliance. As a result, youth and popular protest demonstrations were launched in various governorates to demand the release of the detained journalists. In June 2011, Alaa al-Fazza, a journalist and publisher for the blog, was arrested and tried by the State Security Court on charges of opposing the regime. Fazza was also wanted because he was connected to a report about a campaign that demands the reinstatement of Prince Hamzah Bin-al-Hussein as crown prince instead of Prince Hussein Bin-Abdullah. The activists said that they support Fazza to repay their debts to him...."

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