Sunday, January 20, 2013

20-Jan-13: While some would claim the Algerian hostage-killers are terrorists, others, the BBC for instance, would see them as...

The screenshot at right is snapped from the home page of BBC World Service just now.

This past Thursday (see "17-Jan-13: 'Kidnapping' 'militant' 'hostage-taking' Islamists and the Algerian terror attack now underway") and multiple times in the past, we - and numerous others - pointed out that the BBC refrains from invoking the concept of terrorism in all its lexical variations unless it is taken from someone's direct speech. The full strategy document is called "Language when Reporting Terrorism | Guidance in Full".

It starts promisingly enough:
We must report acts of terror quickly, accurately, fully and responsibly.
But then rapidly sinks:
The word "terrorist" itself can be a barrier rather than an aid to understanding... We should not adopt other people's language as our own; our responsibility is to remain objective...
From years of watching the skew built into much of the BBC's reporting of terrorism and especially Islamist terrorism, we long ago came to the conclusion that what the BBC is marketing in this document is an amoral strategy that reflects poorly on those who create and stand behind its policies.

This might be a good time to remind readers of a critical piece we wrote about the BBC and its management back in August 2011 [online here] and a specific quotation there from a Joanna Mills, an editor at BBC World Update, eight years earlier: 
"It is the style of the BBC World Service to call no one a terrorist, aware as we are that one man's terrorist is another one's freedom fighter.
As we wrote on Thursday:
We have utter contempt for the circumlocuting Bush House ideologues who have been taken prisoner in the cognitive warfare raging around them of which they seem to be almost totally unaware. 
But now, as details emerge of the brutal killings in Algeria of innocent gas field workers by the jihadist, terrorist thugs, we feel we feel the need to apologize for part of what we wrote.

Sorry. Bush House is in fact no longer the location from which BBC World Service broadcasts. It moved its operations six months ago to Broadcasting House, a central London property that was spectacularly upgraded for the BBC at a cost of over a billion pounds sterling (which surprisingly turns out to have been not enough). The new headquarters includes a gargantuan underground shelter to protect the news people from potential attacks by terrorists militant suicide activists.

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