The British Broadcasting Corporation has decided to stop using the word “terror” in order to avoid being perceived as being biased in its reporting, the Daily Mail newspaper reported Sunday.
The report quoted “well-placed BBC sources” as saying the worldwide network’s management is “eager to report terror attacks consistently, regardless of the terrorist’s political ideology.” Instead of calling all incidents “terror attacks” and risk accusations of bias, the BBC will be changing its editorial policy to remove the word “terror” from its lexicon unless it is contained in a direct quote.
“It boils down to that phrase, ‘One man’s terrorist is another man’s freedom fighter,‘” a senior news source told the Daily Mail.
The world’s largest broadcast news operation has come under criticism in the past, accused of bias in reporting on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict for not calling attacks terrorism, and for suppressing a 2004 internal inquiry into its coverage of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.
Conservative member of parliament Andrew Bridgen criticized the reported move to stop calling attacks “terrorism,” telling the Daily Mail that “the BBC should not try to sanitize the behavior of terrorists by not calling it out.”
BBC editorial guidelines already require journalists to avoid using the terms “terrorist” and “terrorism” in their reporting, saying reporters “should consider how our use of language will affect our reputation for objective journalism.”
“If they don’t want to use [the word terror] then they’re failing in their public service duty which is to be clear and accurate,” David Green, CEO of Civitas, a democracy think tank, told the Times.
A BBC spokesman told the Daily Mail that until the new guidelines on the word “terror” were released publicly, “people should wait to read the editorial guidelines.”