‘How are you?!’

تم نشره في Sun 10 May / May 2015. 10:45 AM

By Jumana Ghunaimat

Journalists suffer a lot trying to obtain information. The attempts, and regarding many of the controversial issues, is countered, often, by different official obstacles, but, usually, is done nicely through evasive or stalling officials

However, the method used by the current acting Secretary General of the Ministry of Industry and Trade was the most unusual in response to repeated attempts made by alGhad to get an answer and an explanation on the statements by the manager  of the Jordan Company of Silos and Supply, in which he emphasized the difficulty of implementing the ministry's decision to re-export shipment of Polish wheat that are below standards.

AlGhad’s report and colleague, Tariq Da'jah, who has been reporting on the ministry for years, received the strangest answer given by an official; he kept repeating: "How are you?!”

The attempts by Da'jah to get an answer did not stop with the Secretary, but he also faced the same response, differently, from the Minister of Industry and Trade, who ignored alGhad’s calls completely, as well as text messages.

The minister's failure to respond has more than one interpretation. One of them, even though she is leading a political position, is that she does not know how to deal with the media. This situation calls for professionalism. It seems that the minister -consequently- does not possess the skills required here. Alternatively, the stalling may be coming from a lack of respect for the media.

But, to go back to the Secretary’s answer. That can also be read and interpreted in more than one direction. First and foremost, it reflects the wrong understanding of the official dealing with the media. And confirm, on the other hand, the cynicism and lack of serious opinion on the importance of the media's role in dealing with national issues.

In a nutshell, "How are you?" emphasizes that we still need many years in order to move on to a new stage in the application of regulatory legislation to enable the press and media work, including the right of access to information which Jordan boast to have, before the UN and foreign institutions, within its legislative matrix, and as the first Arab country that instated it, as a sign of respect for the press in particular, and the media in general.

Surely, the dealings with the Ministry of Industry and Trade does not represent the position of all the ministers and officials; as there are other models that are positive indeed.

The chief loser from the absence of information is the government, which raises questions and doubts about the reasons for its failure to provide information, especially when it comes to wheat shipment that both the Jordan Standards and Metrology Department and the Jordan Food and Drug Administration stressed being sub-standard. Does this not indicate, regardless of whether true or not, that there are attempts to have the shipment enter the domestic market, by placing bureaucratic obstacles in the face of its re-exportation?

Frankly, in the light of talk about the decline in the level of press freedom in conjunction with such incident, the government must review how some of its officials handle journalists and the media in general, and direct them abide by the law. Media freedoms and their improvement are a reflection of the freedoms in the country in general, as well as the efficiency and integrity in the overall performance.

How are you? A new government fad in dealing with the media, exposing the reactionary mentality in drawing the relationship with the press and, unfortunately, shows that we are going backward.



This article is an edited translation from the Arabic edition