Many Jordanian newspapers are experiencing problems meeting their payroll obligations, and are delaying salary payments, resulting in complaints and protests by staff at a time of growing living expenses.
The newspaper Al Arab Alyawm is one of the titles that has experienced such difficulties. The newspaper has been unable to pay its employees on time since May, and several journalists working for the newspaper said they only received their salaries for April in June.
Deputy editor-in-chief Osama Rantisi said: “We are going through a financial crisis as a result of declining revenue and inflation.”
He added: “the owner of the newspaper promised to improve the newspaper’s revenue and get things back on track,” and added that employees had no choice but to wait for the crisis to subside.
Rantisi also pointed out that the global financial crisis has also affected the advertising market, in addition to competition from electronic media, impacting income distribution.
Al-Dostor, one of Jordan’s oldest newspapers, is in a similar situation. The newspaper paid salaries for May on the tenth of this month (July), as a result of the accumulation of losses in previous years.
The General Authority of the Jordanian Company for Press and Publication has provided Al Dostor with JMD 5 million of assistance, the equivalent of USD 7 million, from private and voluntary reserves to make up for the accumulated losses.
The chairman of the company which publishes the title, Dr. Amin Al-Mushakaba, told Asharq Al-Awsat that this action was taken to avoid losses amounting to 75 per cent of the company’s capital, and that it will be distributed according to company rules.
He added that securing the salaries of employees that exceed JMD 300,000 has become a priority. He also pointed out that though monthly revenue amounts to more than JMD 1 million dinars, but these barely cover the monthly salaries, bank interest, and securing bank credits to buy the paper and ink.
The assistant advisor of Al-Dostor, Jamal Al-Alaoui, told Asharq Al-Awsat: “We had many demands for the newspaper’s administration that included adhering to a strict timetable, consistent commitment by management to deadlines regarding salaries (not to exceed the fifth of every month), for the newspaper to bear the responsibility of financial matters, as well as scheduling annual bonuses and increases, and rehiring employees who were dismissed arbitrarily.”
Despite the role of the boom of online news websites in Jordan in the shrinking revenues of the country’s print media, it is not the only culprit. There are many factors are causing the closure of more and more daily newspapers, and threatening the financial viability of others over the next ten years. Most notably, these factors include the decline in advertising and distribution, and the falling revenue of commercial printing presses.