Editor forced to choose between rock, hard place

What are you planning to do once you graduate?” is a question several people have been asking me ever since the beginning of my junior year.

This question forces me to think about a topic I have been pushing to the back of my mind ever since I decided to be a journalism major.

To tell you the truth, just like most undergraduate students, I do not know what I plan to do after I graduate, but it’s not only because I’m not sure I’m ready for the “real world” and the “money-making” – or not making in my case – world.

It’s also because the question has another one hidden behind it: Do you plan to go home once you graduate?

I did. But now I am not so sure.

As I have been told, being a journalist in America is hard enough, but I am pretty sure it will be a lot harder to be one in the Middle East.

The difficulty results from several reasons, one is censorship.

My country has recently passed a law limiting even more of the press’ freedom of speech. One of the articles of the law obliges newspapers’ websites to keep a 6-month log of the readers’ comments, which the paper’s editor-in-chief can be tried for if a committee deems them “unacceptable” or “inappropriate” – terms the law left undefined.

The law also allows the general manager of the Press and Publications Committee in Jordan the right to block any website from outside the country if he judges it unsuitable.

The law is originally the result of a governmental campaign to force Internet service providers to ban pornographic Web sites in Jordan for being “amoral” and “unethical,” yet it also leaves room for further censershop for other reasons like “security.”

The law, and several others, significantly decreases my chances of exercising my basic right of speech as a citizen first and journalist second.

While Americans and American websites have been very vocal – perhaps even too vocal – in voicing their opinions about the presidential candidates over the past year, websites in Jordan are showing a “comment has been deleted” disclaimer where user comments used to exist.

I have no idea where I am going to end up, but I know my country doesn’t look too kindly on my future profession and my culture and traditions do not look too favorably on my living anywhere else. I now know what “stuck between a rock and a hard place” means.

My time at Gannon has been passing fairly quickly and I am sure it isn’t planning to slow down anytime soon, but I know that a blink of an eye away, a decision is waiting to be made – and it won’t be pretty.

 

HIBA ALMASRI

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