Akeed – Rasha Salameh
The Russian Embassy in Amman issued a statement in which it criticized “The Jordan Times” newspaper, saying “the newspaper periodically publishes on its pages articles which represent biased, negative and one-sided image of the Russian Federation foreign policy”.
“This newspaper, which previously used to have its own verified opinion on the events nowadays, finds it, apparently, reasonable to become another “cog” in the anti-Russian propaganda campaign being spread now in the world,” it added.
The statement, posted on the Embassy’s Facebook page, was referring to three specific articles published in the independent English language daily. It further claimed that the newspaper was “ignoring its request to publish articles by Russian officials”.
Press Attaché at the Russian Embassy in Amman said he had personally wrote to JT’s former editorial management requesting them to “publish articles that reflect Russia’s official stance written by political figures and experts.” However, he told Jordan’s Media Credibility Monitor, Akeed, that he did not receive a response.
The Russian official said he tried to contact the newspaper “over ten times to discuss the issue, but that nothing happened.” He explained that the professional pitfall lies in presenting a one-sided version of the narrative… which makes the issue look “as if it was part of the propaganda against Russia.”
JT’s former Editor-in-chief, Samir Barhoum, stressed that “the newspaper is keen on maintaining good relationships with embassies, including the Russian embassy,” describing what happened as “a misunderstanding”. He explained that only two articles were sent – on piracy - but were not published for editorial considerations including the fact that the articles were outdated.
Recently appointed Editor-in-chief, Mohammad Ghazal, said “the Embassy has not recently contacted the newspaper to publish articles.”
Regarding the three articles named in the Russian statement, Ghazal noted that “We have no control over the content of the articles, given that they solely represent the writers’ personal views. Freedom of expression is available to everyone.”
“Even we, as a newspaper, can express our opinion through an editorial, a right granted to everyone, but without being unprofessional.” “As a newspaper, we have no preconceived position…We have no agendas,” commented Ghazal.
He argued that the newspaper also publishes articles that adopt the Russian stance, noting that the newspaper is keen to present the different perspectives regarding any issue. Omari told Akeed that the Russian “despair” over the issue could be blamed on the fact that several articles that reflected similar views appeared in consecutive issues of the newspaper.
Akeed reviewed the three articles: The World Looks on as Idlib Burns, classified as an editorial that highlights the “Russian involvement” in the killing of Syrian civilians. The second: Russia’s Passport Expansionism, is an opinion piece by a Washington-based writer on the political dimensions of Russia’s recent decision to grant the Russian passport to certain areas in Ukrain controlled by pro-Russia separatists. The third: NATO’s duty at 70 is an article by a Danish official that talks about Russia from the perspective of a former NATO politician.
In its analysis, Akeed monitored all articles published in the Jordan Times that mentioned “Russia” over the last two months. In terms of journalism genre, most of these pieces would be classified as news, the online portal found. There were also other articles, specifically op-eds. The analysis also showed that the writers supported their opinion through evidence; the articles were not meant to “dredge up the past” but were commenting on current state of affairs involving Russia. Topics discussed in these articles covered various issues including the Jordanian-Russian Relations and Russia’s international relations.
In order to avoid any such confusion, media outlets should have in place stated editorial as well as publishing and rejection policies for dealing with diplomatic mission, embassies, and international organizations, advises Akeed.