BBC again ignores its own editorial guidelines in London terror reports

BBC reporting on the fatal stabbing attack in London on the afternoon of November 29th once again highlighted the corporation’s double standards on terrorism.

The BBC’s current editorial guidelines on ‘War, Terror and Emergencies’ (which came into effect in mid-July 2019) state: [emphasis added]

“11.3.5 Our reporting of possible acts of terror should be timely and responsible, bearing in mind our requirement for due accuracy and impartiality. Terrorism is a difficult and emotive subject with significant political overtones and care is required in the use of language that carries value judgements. We should not use the term ‘terrorist’ without attribution.

11.3.6 The word ‘terrorist’ itself can be a barrier rather than an aid to understanding. We should convey to our audience the full consequences of the act by describing what happened. We should use words which specifically describe the perpetrator such as ‘bomber’, ‘attacker’, ‘gunman’, ‘kidnapper’, ‘insurgent’ and ‘militant’. We should not adopt other people’s language as our own; our responsibility is to remain objective and report in ways that enable our audiences to make their own assessments about who is doing what to whom.”

As has been the case when terror attacks have taken place in the UK in the past, those guidelines were appropriately disregarded in some of the corporation’s reporting on the November 29th incident. For example:









As regular readers know, the BBC has reported countless fatal attacks against Israelis using knives or other methods without using the words terror, terrorism or terrorist.

In April of this year BBC News’ editorial director stated:

“On the issue of terror and terrorism our guidance is clear. There is no definition of what is a terrorist attack and who is a terrorist. If we use the word we want to attribute it…”

 “There is no agreed definition of what a terrorist is. It is disputed.”

“We want to be consistent.”

The BBC is however anything but consistent in the language used in its reporting on terrorism in different locations. While the corporation does use the word terror in reports on attacks in Western Europe or attacks against British tourists, it time and time again fails to employ the same terminology in its reporting on attacks against Israelis.

As we have noted here in the past, that double standard is evidence of precisely the type of “value judgements” which the BBC claims that its above editorial guideline is designed to prevent.

Related Articles:

BBC reports on Kiryat Arba attack without using the word terror

Another fatal terror attack; another miserable BBC News headline

BBC claims attacks on Israelis in Judea & Samaria are “rare”

BBC News flunks headline of report on Jerusalem terror attack

BBC Complaints: terror attacks in Jerusalem and Tunisia are “very different”

Radio 4 gives insight into BBC avoidance of the use of the term ‘terror’ in Israel

BBC News finds terror (without quotation marks) in Europe

BBC finds a ‘working definition’ for terrorism in Europe

BBC double standards on terrorism surface yet again

A new BBC ‘explanation’ for its double standards on terror

BBC senior editor defends double standards on terrorism




8 comments on “BBC again ignores its own editorial guidelines in London terror reports

  1. Love your work
    but #2 there is a difference between a normal knife attack
    and one done by someone wearing a SUICIDE vest
    .. \\“There is no agreed definition of what a terrorist is. It is disputed.”//
    #2 the guy was known from the beginning to already have a conviction for planning terrorism.
    The BBC would look out of kilter if they didn’t call a terrorist type attack by a convicted terrorist, a terror attack.

    • This is the BBC’s article on the Carmel Market bombing in Tel Aviv. The only place where the article mentions the word “terror” in any form is in a direct quote. However, in unquoted text, the BBC uses the word “militants.”

      “Israeli Foreign Ministry spokesman David Saranga, quoted by AFP news agency, urged the Palestinian Authority to crack down on armed militants.”

    • Also, this is how the BBC reported a terrorist attack on a bus in Tel Aviv:

      “There has been an explosion on a bus in Israel’s commercial capital Tel Aviv, police have said, amid continuing exchanges between Israel and militants in Gaza.

      At least 10 people have been injured in the explosion, which was described as a ‘terrorist attack” by an Israeli official.

      Notice how the story is framed: the BBC calls the perpetrators “militants.” It then says that an Israel official “describes” the explosion as a “terrorist attack.” However, in stark contrast to the London Bridge attack, the BBC itself does not call the bus bombing a terror attack.

  2. One forgets – if a Jew is murdered, he/she is are only a Jew killed by militants but,,, if a Christian is murdered, the killer is a terrorist. Simples !

  3. Pingback: 12/02 Links Pt2: Primo Levi, Zionist; And they call themselves the New Israel Fund?; Orphaned in Mumbai, Moshe Holtzberg celebrates his bar mitzvah – 24/6 Magazine

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