Jordan: Journalist and union leader who reported on mismanagement of public advertisement money faces pressure

Khaled Al Qudah, a journalist working for Al Rai newspaper and board member of the Jordanian Press Association (JPA), submitted testimony to the Jordanian Integrity and Anti-Corruption Commission (JIACC) over suspected corruption over the management of the public advertisement involving advertising agencies and top management of some newspapers. The IFJ demands a full investigation in this claim and protection for the journalist from retaliation.

Journalist Khaled Al Qudah

On 3rd June, Al Qudah participated in Voice of the Mamlaka talk show aired on Al Mamalaka TV, one of two public broadcasters in Jordan, to discuss the crises facing print media in Jordan. He criticised a number of the existing contracts where the publishers gave the advertising agencies up to 50% discount on public advertisement income as “unreasonable and unjustified”.

Al Qudah criticised the government as well for accepting this arrangement. The annual public advertisement budget is estimated at 8 million Jordanian Dinars (9.5 million euro). The journalist said that he considers his views as a notification to the Anti-Corruption Commission.

On June 13, he was invited to JIACC where he presented his testimony and evidence to the investigators, resulting in the opening of an official investigation. Al Qudah denounced pressures since his testimony and worried about retaliation from those involved in the investigation.

A struggling media sector

The Jordanian media sector has been struggling with the financial crises and many newspapers have closed in t

he last few years. The Covid 19 pandemic has deepened into the financial crisis of the few media still in circulation.

The three national newspapers receiving public advertisement currently employ 215 journalists. These journalists suffered a 25% pay cut when the pandemic began, while two newspapers, Al Rai and ADdostour, owe their staff six months of salaries. The delays in paying journalists' salaries and the uncertainty surrounding the future of their jobs are causing immense hardship and anguish to media workers and their families.

IFJ General Secretary, Anthony Bellanger, said: “We salute the courage of our colleague Khalid Al Qudan and warn against any retaliation against him. The IFJ also demands a full investigation into the management of the public advertisement budgets. It is outrageous that millions of public money are wasted while journalists and their families are the only ones paying the price of the crisis. In these times of hardship, public advertisement is the lifeline of many media organizations and must be administered by an independent commission to safeguard journalism from political interference and guarantee that public interest journalism survives to the economic crisis.” 

For more information, please contact IFJ on +32 2 235 22 16

The IFJ represents more than 600,000 journalists in 146 countries

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