In the wake of the Paris attacks, BBC policy regarding the use of the word terror in its reporting recently came under criticism from British politicians.
“Two Tory MPs, as well as Labour’s John Mann, have called for a rethink of that policy.
Conservative Andrew Bridgen told the Daily Mail that the phrase “militants” had “the ring of placard waving strikers”.
He added: “The BBC can’t use the ’T’ word because they don’t want to be judgmental, but these are people who are willing to travel half way around the world to commit murder in cold blood.”
That view was echoed by fellow Conservative Philip Davies who said the BBC should “describe things as they are”.
“Are they not wanting to offend the IS terrorists? It is absolutely extraordinary.”
Mr Mann meanwhile said there was “no doubt” or “ambiguity” that the group should be called terrorists.”
Interestingly, the Daily Mail’s article on the topic suggests that some members of the BBC’s staff are of the same opinion.
“Their views are shared by BBC journalists who have privately expressed frustration that they were not able to describe the perpetrators of the recent Paris attacks accurately.
An insider said: ‘It’s inappropriate. Of course we should be allowed to call them terrorists. We just appear out of step with the public.’ […]
BBC sources said that although the rules ‘made a lot of sense’ during the IRA bombings, when they were originally drawn up, they urgently needed redrawing for the current era.
‘I accept that in Northern Ireland, where there are licence fee payers who might not regard Gerry Adams as a terrorist, it was a difficult issue. But I also think it is pretty clear to everyone that IS are terrorists. The guidelines are just silly,’ said a BBC news source.”
Of course this is not the first time that the BBC has come under criticism from MPs on this topic: similar objections were voiced in 2013 in relation to the corporation’s coverage of terror attacks in Kenya and Algeria.
Clearly nothing changed as a result of criticism from UK politicians and any alterations to the long-standing BBC policy on the use of the word terror (which includes double standards that have been in existence for decades) will apparently require the corporation’s funding public to make its views on the matter clear.