For years we have complained about the BBC and their coverage of what are clearly terrorist acts. One of the reasons for the problem can be found within their editorial guidelines:
“We must report acts of terror quickly, accurately, fully and responsibly. Our credibility is undermined by the careless use of words which carry emotional or value judgements. The word “terrorist” itself can be a barrier rather than an aid to understanding. We should try to avoid the term, without attribution. We should let other people characterise while we report the facts as we know them.”
I am very concerned about this type of approach. I understand the need for balance and the attempt to be fair but it should not be allowed to color the news. There are times when there is no other description other than terrorist. For example, sawing off a person’s head with a knife or blowing up a bus are clearly acts of terror.
More from the BBC guidelines:
“We should not adopt other people’s language as our own. It is also usually inappropriate to use words like “liberate”, “court martial” or “execute” in the absence of a clear judicial process. We should convey to our audience the full consequences of the act by describing what happened. We should use words which specifically describe the perpetrator such as “bomber”, “attacker”, “gunman”, “kidnapper”, “insurgent, and “militant”. Our responsibility is to remain objective and report in ways that enable our audiences to make their own assessments about who is doing what to whom.”
This is hogwash and idiocy. If a man breaks into my house and walks out with a stereo and food is he considered to be a very hungry transient who magically stumbled into a place that might hold food or is he a thief.
The press has an obligation to do better than this. I am appalled by this kind of stupidity.
For more on the BBC you can go to here and here.