Feb 28 2009

Almost half Jordanians rely news web site

Published by at 4:59 pm under Articles,Jordan

AmmanNet came first on a new survey of newsweb sites

By Taylor Luck

AMMAN – Almost half of Jordanian Internet users rely on news websites, a trend web journalists believe will pave the way for the medium to play a greater role in how the Kingdom gets its news.

According to the 2009 Jordan Media Survey, 16.6 per cent of Jordanians, constituting 45.9 per cent of all web users in the country, said they had visited a news website within the last 30 days.

Al Jazeera was the most popular destination for Internet browsers, some 66.5 per cent, followed by Al Arabiyya at 35.1 per cent and CNN at 18.8 per cent, according to the study.

Ammannet was the most popular local destination for Jordanians turning to the Internet for news, attracting 15.6 per cent of users, or 2.6 per cent of the population, the report said.

Ammonnews.net was the second-most relied on local news website, according to the study, attracting 14.7 per cent of web users (2.4 per cent of Jordanians), followed by Sarayanews and Khaberni at 13.6 per cent and 7.3 per cent respectively.

Around 84 per cent of Jordanians viewing news websites said they preferred Internet sites for their timeliness, 76.4 per cent cited credibility, while 66 per cent said news reported by online websites was not printed in daily newspapers.

Approximately 40.9 per cent cited interactive features as the reason behind their preference for the medium, while 33 per cent said it was the lack of censorship, according to the study, produced as part of the USAID-funded Jordan Media Strengthening Programme.

Daoud Kuttab, founder of Ammannet, one of the Kingdom’s first news websites, said more Jordanians are turning to the medium as it provides a public space for dialogue not found in the political sphere or traditional media outlets.

“Censorship and self-censorship have become the norm rather than the exception in daily newspapers; this is why more Jordanians are moving towards news websites,” he noted, adding that allowing the public to interact through posting comments on stories and taking part in the media process has given a voice to previously “silent citizens”.

“The critical masses, not just the elite, are able to make their voices heard and become part of the public discussion missing in Jordan,” he said, pointing out that readers are savvy enough to discern which websites are credible and which are “just to make money or have an axe to grind”.

Predicting a more prominent role for new media outlets in Jordan, Kuttab said he expects decision makers and politicians to take notice and even provide exclusive interviews to websites in order to reach a wider audience.

Basil Okoor, cofounder and editor at Ammonnews.net, disputed the study’s ranking and usage figures of electronic news sites, noting that his website’s figures indicate a much larger audience.

One of the factors behind the success of news websites, according to him, is interactive features allowing citizens to add comments, hold online discussions and even post their own articles.

The very fact that websites are open to society, however, places an increased burden on editors to monitor content as per the Press and Publications Law, he noted.

Despite this, Okoor expressed optimism for the future of the sector.

“There will be one way forward and that is electronic journalism,” he said.

According to the study, conducted by Strategies, a global network member of the international market research firm Harris Interactive, some 36.1 per cent of Jordanians use the Internet, 30.6 per cent of them daily and 18.1 per cent weekly.

Some 65.5 per cent of Internet users view Arabic websites, compared to 35.5 per cent English, with males constituting 64.4 per cent compared to 35.6 per cent women.

Nearly one-third, or 30 per cent, of Jordanians log on to the web at home (14 per cent of the total population), while 26.5 per cent (13 per cent of the general population) use Internet cafés. In comparison, 17.2 per cent of web browsers, 8 per cent of the population, view the Internet at work, while 10 per cent (5.1 per cent of population) access the Internet at a university.

In terms of Internet use, 28.9 per cent of Jordanians said they use the World Wide Web to “browse in general”, 27.2 per cent for research, and 21.1 per cent to download movies and software.

26 February 2009

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