The BBC has been accused of “sanitizing the behavior of terrorists” under plans for an effective ban on its journalists using the word ‘terror’ when reporting on terrorist attacks such as the Islamist massacres at London Bridge or Manchester Arena, or the Christchurch mosque terror attack.
BBC reporters will be told to avoid using the word “terror” to describe any terror attack, unless they are quoting someone else who uses the word.
Instead, the reporters will refer to terror attacks by naming specific details, such as the location and the method of slaughter used.
Daily Mail reports: The controversial edict means that the BBC will no longer use the phrase ‘terror attack’ to describe the massacres at London Bridge or Manchester Arena, as the corporation did when the atrocities occurred.
Reporters would describe them as the London Bridge van attack or the Manchester Arena bomb attack instead.
But yesterday, MPs and experts accused the broadcaster of ‘failing in its public service duty’.
David Green, a former Home Office adviser and chief executive of the think tank Civitas, said: ‘If they don’t want to use that [the word terror] then they’re failing in their public service duty which is to be clear and accurate.
‘I think there is a common usage, which has some recognition in law, which if you use attempted killing or injury to a political objective, then that’s terrorism.
‘It would be misleading not to say that these are terrorist episodes if they are attempts to advance a political or ideological cause through violence.
‘The Christchurch one [in New Zealand] was someone a bit wacky but he was trying to make a political point, and all the Islamist episodes are aimed at a political outcome.’
Conservative MP Andrew Bridgen said: ‘They are terrorists and these are terror attacks. The BBC should not try to sanitise the behaviour of terrorists by not calling it out.’
According to well-placed BBC sources, bosses are eager to report terror attacks consistently, regardless of the terrorists’ political ideology. But instead of branding them all as terror attacks and risk accusations of bias, it wants to avoid the word altogether.
A senior news source said: ‘It boils down to that phrase, ‘One man’s terrorist is another man’s freedom fighter’.
Our question is, ‘Is Darren Osborne [who was behind the Finsbury Park terror attack] a terrorist?’ He is being motivated by far-Right thinking, in the same way as the guys in the attack on London Bridge. Consistency will be the key.’
Many BBC reporters are angered by the decision, which will come into force when the BBC’s new editorial guidelines are published this month.
A source said: ‘The end result is a desire to squeeze the word terror out altogether, which many people think is nuts.’