Introduction to News Media Law and Policy in Jordan, 2nd edition

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Jordan Media Strengthening Program
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International and Area Studies
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Center for Global Communication Studies at the Annenberg School for Communication

The goal of this volume is to examine and assess the legal environment the institutions, laws, and practices in which news media operate in Jordan. It is designed for those in Jordan for whom information and communication is important: citizens, government officials, organizations of civil society, indeed, almost everyone. We seek to describe the system of laws and policies, including basic rights, that affect the way in which information and ideas about public affairs are selected, packaged, distributed, and received. We try to place rules and regulations in context, at least a public context. It is impossible, here, to describe the complex history, the religious institutions, the geopolitical events and other very considerable matters that affect how speech flows. We concentrate, therefore, on press and media laws and their implementation. By "news media law," we mean the set of institutions and rules that affect the activities resulting in the dissemination of information and ideas about public affairs to the general public. This includes not only those institutions and rules designed to advance the free exercise of such activity, but also those that are intended to protect other interests with which this exercise might conflict. Indeed, the essence of news media law lies in the inherent, continual need to strike the appropriate balance between press freedoms and competing public and private values and interests. At the same time, our scope is closely defined. We do not seek to make this presentation comprehensive: an encyclopedic survey of all legal provisions affecting news media activity would be beyond the scope and space limitations of this volume. Therefore, most issues regarding the structural aspects of Jordan's media regulation (for example, ownership of mass media) are not included here. Instead, we focus on the legal environment in which the news media operate, organizing our material according to a way of thinking about media in a society that is seeking to increase the participation of its citizens in the functioning of government. We emphasize the importance of the rule of law itself, and then the laws and policies governing journalists' access to information and content regulation, as well as content-neutral rules that affect how the media perform. Laws and policies are frequently looked at in isolation. Laws are also often analyzed and discussed with attention paid merely to their wording. However, each society has a cluster of activities, interactions of laws, and settings in which they exist that make those laws more or less effective. Different states, at different stages of development, require different strategies for thinking about the role of media and, as a result, for thinking about the design and structure of the environment in which they operate. We seek to explore the particular laws of Jordan, and the institutions which give them meaning.

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