Those who enjoy the advantages of the Internet and its flow of information stand to benefit more, especially in terms of local audiovisual news now available via a new Internet-based community radio station. AmmanNet, the first of its kind Internet-based community radio station in the region, was inaugurated on Sunday by Amman mayor Nidal Hadid.
Staffed with a project manager, a coordinator, seven trained reporters, two technicians and a graphic designer, the radio station focuses on social issues of importance to the local community.
Project creator and manager, Daoud Kuttab, said work on the station started in August with technical assistance and support granted from UNESCO and the Greater Amman municipality.
Kuttab, who is a journalist, columnist and media specialist, said the station website provides the Internet user with on-the-spot news, features, picture files and stories as well as audio commentary and services.
“The world talks about a global village and on how to find out what goes on in the world. Through our website on the Internet, Jordan will be seen and known all over,” Kuttab said at the inauguration ceremony.
Speaking at the ceremony, UNESCO's director in Amman, Martin Hadlow, said AmmanNet is another tool of dialogue in the “public sphere” to develop civil society and nourish democracy and peace. “Peace is, of course, UNESCO's primary objective. We try to reach this goal in many ways — through education, culture and of course, through communication and mass media,” he added.
Hadlow said the website is one of the new voices on the Internet to join thousands of other audio and information channels around the world. “Not only will Amman Community Radio provide local news to the public of this city, but its voices will be available all over the country and the world. Wherever there is an Internet terminal, Amman Community Radio can be accessed. This gives new meaning to the phrase “think global, act local,” he added.
Hadlow said the station, the first in the Arab world, is a new form of media using the latest technologies, adding that he hopes it will be picked up by others in other countries of the region.
Kuttab told the Jordan Times that around 20 candidates were chosen from 300 applicants to train and work with the station. Technical assistance was provided by UNESCO and tutors from Italy, the British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC) and Beir Zeit University were brought in to help the journalists in their work.
“Since August, experimental work stages started on the station,” Kuttab said, adding that the journalists, trained to use small handset tape recorders and digital cameras as well as performing electronic montage and download on the Internet, cover most areas of the Kingdom. “The main aim of this project in addition to covering neglected local news is to create qualified and excellent media people,” he added.
Kuttab said that through UNESCO the project received $100,000 in funds from international non-governmental organizations for one year. “We hope to find other sources of funding later on to continue our work and our experimental project,” he added.
Kuttab said that contrary to the norm, the hope is that the project will end with the establishment of a standard radio station. A mission statement handed to journalists at a press conference said AmmanNet was a multimedia non-profit experimental project with local content but global outreach.
It said it focuses on local issues of Amman away from politics, and depends in large part on the professionalism of its employees who make news instead of recycling it. Issues are vast, varying from health to environment, entertainment, housing, traffic and sports, the statement said. AmmanNet operates on field coverage providing audiovisual services as well as print and still pictures.
On future projects, Kuttab said, they include distributing reports and stories to other stations in the world, providing the service on mobile phones as well as other plans of expanding. — ( Jordan Times )
By Alia Shukri Hamzeh
© 2000 Mena Report (www.menareport.com)