Most journalists [in Jordan] prefer the traditional method of obtaining information from sources instead of using the Access to Information Law to gain access to official documents, according to a study issued on Sunday.
Prepared by the Centre for Defending the Freedom of Journalists (CDFJ) , the study indicated that 62 per cent of the 167 surveyed journalists got their information over the phone, while 95 per cent of those denied information did not complain to the relevant institution.
Endorsed in 2007, the Access to Information Law aims to facilitate the public’s access to official documents.
The law grants access to almost all types of information except those classified as “secret” , as per legislation on protecting state documents and secrets.
Those wishing to obtain information through this law must fill out a special form and wait for an official response.
The law stipulates that if there is no answer within 30 days, it means the application was rejected, in which case the applicant has the right to either resort to the Higher Court of Justice or lodge a complaint with the Information Council, a specialised body formed to supervise the law’s application.
The CDFJ study, which covered journalists working in public and private media outlets, showed that journalists were still resorting to traditional means when seeking information such as phone calls, e-mails or personal visits to sources.
“The results of the survey also revealed that most government institutions are not aware of the Access to Information Law or do not even abide by it when approached by journalists,” the report said, adding that most feedback acquired by journalists is usually verbal rather than documented.
According to the survey, 51.2 per cent of the sample said they receive complete answers to their queries from their sources, while 7.9 per cent said they get partial answers and 4 per cent said their questions are never answered.
“In many cases where sources refused to give information to journalists , they said they were not authorised to give information to the media or they did not have enough information to share,” the study said.
“However, almost none of the journalists who did not get answers to their queries said they were aware of the contents of the law, which authorises them to file a complaint to the Information Council.”