The condition of the Jordanian press is situated in the middle of the Arab media spectrum. There are few dailies - six in all - with a near-monopoly for pro-establishment, widely circulated dailies such as Al Rai (The Opinion) and Ad Dustour (The Constitution). This monopoly has been intermittently challenged by independent newspapers associated with political dissidents from the nationalist camp. More recently Jordan joined a new pan-Arab trend where the de-facto state monopoly on dailies is challenged by wealthy businessmen.
With the launch of the independent daily Al Ghad (The Future) in 2004, the Jordanian press has moved closer to achieving a higher degree of diversity and professionalism. This is acutely needed after a series of restrictive amendments to the liberal press legislation from 1993. These widely criticized amendments have meant that journalists are liable to high fines and risk long-term imprisonment in case they defaulted on the payment.
As in most Arab countries, the Jordanian oppositional press is reduced to weeklies. These suffer from a party partisan profile and weak circulation. They nevertheless contribute in two important ways to invigorating the political life and developing a more diverse press culture. Firstly their criticism of the government provides a minimum margin for freedom of expression, especially on religious issues. Secondly, they employ oppositional activists, who in their turn supply the press unions with a considerable number of members. This may explain the paradoxical situation with a pro-government media scene and vociferously anti-government press unions.
Did you know?
Historically the Jordanian press is one of the youngest in the Arab world: it dates back to the establishment of the Principality of Trans-Jordan in 1920. The first Jordanian newspaper was called Al Haq Ya’lu (The Voice of Justice is Being Called) and was published from the camp of Prince Abdallah Bin Al Hussain in the city of Ma’an and appeared in only 5 issues, the last of which was printed in Amman.
Language: Arabic Established: 2005 Published daily
Jordan’s only daily paper published in tabloid format caters for a readership interested in lightly served news and little analysis and ops. This family-owned paper relies on the official news agency Petra for most of its news coverage, especially on foreign affairs.
Language: Arabic Established: 2004 Published daily
An independent daily, which provides the most nuanced political coverage in the Jordanian context. In spite of its young age, Al Ghad has the largest network of subscribers and works to appeal to a younger and less conservative readership.
Language: Arabic Established: 1971 Published daily
The largest Jordanian daily with close ties to the ruling establishment, Al Rai provides an extensive coverage of the King’s activities and positive reporting on governmental initiatives. Yet it paper has some of the most insightful political columns.
Language: English Established: 1975 Published daily
Published by the same house as the pro-government daily Al Rai. The Jordan Times, like many other English-speaking newspapers in the Arab world, has succeeded in acquiring a larger margin of independence from the official line and has become a good source of information and insightful leaders for the foreign community, the residing diplomats and visiting journalists.