I was sufficiently annoyed by the BBC’s erasure of the word “terrorist” from reports about Thursday’s attacks (see previous post) that I (*ahem*) emailed the news editor of the Daily Telegraph about it. There’s no love lost between the Telegraph and the BBC, and so I thought it would be right up their street. (I managed to avoid writing the email in a green font.)
Well, having had no response to my email, I thought that was that, but then today on the front page of the paper I saw a story headlined BBC edits out the word “terrorist”:
The BBC has re-edited some of its coverage of the London Underground and bus bombings to avoid labelling the perpetrators as “terrorists”, it was disclosed yesterday.
Early reporting of the attacks on the BBC’s website spoke of terrorists but the same coverage was changed to describe the attackers simply as “bombers”.
The BBC’s guidelines state that its credibility is undermined by the “careless use of words which carry emotional or value judgments”.
Consequently, “the word ‘terrorist’ itself can be a barrier rather than an aid to understanding” and its use should be “avoided”, the guidelines say.
Rod Liddle, a former editor of the Today programme, has accused the BBC of “institutionalised political correctness” in its coverage of British Muslims.
A BBC spokesman said last night: “The word terrorist is not banned from the BBC.”
My email came before that story, and since everyone knows that if A precedes B then A has caused B, well, there you go. Shame not to get a link to the blog out of them, but you can’t have everything. 😉
Though I love the way the mainstream media reports stories from the blogosphere. “The BBC has re-edited some of its coverage … it was disclosed yesterday“. The story has in fact been doing the rounds since Friday (and, indeed, was posted by Andrew Sullivan that day), but presumably it was only yesterday that a proper journalist got round to checking it out.
And both gratifying (on a personal level) and depressing (on pretty much every other level) to see how right I was about the BBC dropping the word because it was “too value-laden and judgmental” – which is almost word-for-word what the relevant guidelines say, as highlighted above.
Update (Wed 13th July, 4.55 pm): Well whaddaya know. Just had an email from the news editor at the Telegraph thanking me for the tip. Guess that sometimes post hoc is indeed ergo propter hoc after all.