Study finds disparities in official media’s handling of crises

16 Aug 2020


Jordan Media Institute - Amman 


On Sunday, master’s student in Journalism and New Media at the Jordan Media Institute (JMI) Hamza al-Basbous discussed his thesis, titled “The Quality of Jordanian Government Media Messaging: a Content-Analysis Study of the Treatment of Crises in 2018-2019.” The thesis indicated that there is a disparity in the quality of the government media’s messaging, in terms of both professional and technical standards, when it came to the media’s response to social, security, and natural disaster-related crises. The quality, he said, varied according to the nature of the crisis and its circumstances in the period between 2018-2019. 


Overall, the government media’s adherence to technical quality standards, such as headline composition and media messaging, media content, and persuasive capacity, was greater than its adherence to professional standards, including the speed of response, clarity, timeliness, comprehensiveness, and adherence to moral standards, which varied markedly in this period. 


According to al-Basbous, the study was aiming to measure the quality of the government media’s messaging in response to crises and the effectiveness of these messages in persuading the public. This was done by measuring their observance of professional and technical quality standards for media messaging across three types of crises: security, social, and natural disasters. 


The study analyzed a select sample of all the government media messaging that was issued by government agencies and officials within crises - looking at the three types of crises mentioned above - and published by the Jordan News Agency (Petra) as the official source and primary reference for official government statements in 2018 and 2019. 



During his thesis discussion, al-Basbous drew on previous studies on this issue to note that governments face an important challenge in this area, in terms of how to keep pace with developments in communication and information-exchange tools, and their ability to develop their own tools accordingly. This matters especially in terms of developing and presenting high-quality content that is impactful and persuasive, especially for events that have “a populist nature that affects public opinion,” or that are connected to daily life for individuals, which often fall within the category of “crises.” 


The study confirmed that there is an urgent need to develop both media messaging in times of crises, and the tools that supplement it. This brought out the concept of “crisis media,” in an attempt to arrive at effective methods and better media practices to confront crises and influential events of all kinds. This was done by looking at a number of experiences and events, studying official media’s engagement with them, and analyzing the content of media messaging that was disseminated at the time.


JMI seeks to improve media outputs and the media’s professional reputation and image both locally and regionally, through its master’s program in Journalism and New Media, which aims to develop the journalistic research and writing skills of its students, as well as their ethical and creative standards.