My recent trip to Jordan was sponsored by the Jordanian Tourism Board (JTB). JTB sponsors several publicity tours each year in order to entice readers and followers of its tour members to travel to Jordan and help its economy. I traveled with the United Church Press tour which traveled to religious and tourist destinations around the country. Throughout my time with JTB, I wondered:
Since JTB is sponsoring my time here, do I owe them a good review?
One of the other tour members, who is professional travel writer, told me that in his work he doesn’t write about negative experiences. “My motto is,” he said. “If you can’t say something nice, don’t say anything at all.”
While much of the press tour was wonderful, I also wrestled with the extremely positive glasses through which JTB showed me the country. I was able to duck away for a few interviews with peace groups and discovered that some of the facts that JTB and its affiliates spouted were woefully deceptive.
In discussing this with the editors of Friends Journal, whom I was representing on the press tour, we decided that I should wait till I was out of the country to write about the more controversial issues. However, I was still expected to write about what I had discovered. I was reminded by several people (apart from the editors of Friends Journal with whom in confidence I discerned this issue) that the U.S. does have a policy of relative free speech while Jordan does not.
So in answering my own question, the only thing I owe anyone is the truth as I have experienced it. Such is the witness of Friends as I was brought up to believe. Therefore I challenge you, my readers, what truth do you have to publish today?