Wednesday, September 27, 2006

BBC Must Not Use Term "Terrorist"

The BBC Editorial Guidelines reveal that BBC reports should "avoid the term" terrorist. The reason given is that the term "itself can be a barrier rather than an aid to understanding".

The guidelines go on to say:

We should use words which specifically describe the perpetrator such as "bomber", "attacker", "gunman", "kidnapper", "insurgent, and "militant"

It sounds convincing at first glance, but is, in fact, flawed.

The BBC claims to avoid the term "terrorist" because it is not factual but is subjective. However, this is simply not true. The term "terrorist" can be defined and then applied to situations that meet that definition.

The problem here is not that the term "terrorist" is undefined. The problem is that the BBC is unwilling to make a decision about how to define a "terrorist". Perhaps instead of spending £1.2m on hippos, they could spend £12.50 on a dictionary.