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10.05.2015 - UNESCO Office in Amman

The Jordanian Media Development Indicators in the making

Toby Mendel discussing several sub-indicators of the MDI assessment with May Shalabieh during the workshop in April.

“I was worried in the beginning. But I am not worried now” says Toby Mendel, international expert to the ongoing Jordanian Media Development Indicators (MDI) study in light of a tight deadline ahead.

A long day lies behind him, and some fatigue is written in his face. Mendel came to Jordan directly from an international conference in Brazil and is heading to Nepal after the three days MDI workshop in Amman. “I am travelling over 100 days per year. At some point, my son stopped counting”, he says.

The MDI workshop held in Amman in April brought together the international and national researchers for the second time to discuss the status and way forward for the Jordanian MDI process. The second draft that the local research team produced over the last months is currently under review. By June, a first edited final draft will be submitted to UNESCO, an advisory board of the study and several peer reviewers before entering the final publication process.

With a total of seven months, the Jordanian MDI analysis will be by far the fastest fully-fledged assessment ever conducted as it normally takes minimum one year. “But we are not intending to sacrifice quality as a result of this pressure. I actually believe that the Jordan MDI is one of the best that has ever been done,” Mendel says.

UNESCO has applied the MDIs in 15 countries so far and 18 exercises are currently in process, including the one for Jordan. The Jordanian MDI will be the fourth in the Arab world following Tunisia, Egypt and Palestine.

Mendel, one of the most reputable international legal experts in the field of freedom of expression, has been involved in many of the assessments. His involvement with the UNESCO MDI framework even goes back to the development of the indicators where he was part of an advisory group and later took part in the UNESCO International Programme for the Development of Communication (IPDC) board meeting where the framework was adopted.

During the meeting in Amman, the researchers discussed the progress so far, challenging issues and identified gaps in the assessment. The team also had an in-depth discussion with the Advisory Board to the study comprising senior Jordanian experts.

When asked about the atmosphere during the second workshop he underlines that it is fruitful to meet in person and as a whole team. “It is also good to come back now after I e-mailed comments several times, which can be a difficult process. It is great to come back and reinforce the team”.

The MDI report is an integral part of “Support to Media in Jordan” project, a three year initiative that supports Jordan’s efforts in advancing the Jordanian media to further increase its freedom, independence and professionalism. The project is generously funded by the European Union.

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