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Tuesday, January 6 2004

Editors weigh in on 'T-word'

HonestReporting has continually stressed the importance of calling terror 'terror' in news reports, whether the premeditated attack against innocent civilians occurs in New York City, Jerusalem, or Baghdad.

The executive editor of the Miami Herald has just expressed his paper's commitment to do so:

It's Herald policy to use the most neutral language available in a given situation. We, too, label those who fight for a cause as militants. But unlike some of our colleagues, we see a line where a militant becomes a terrorist and we don't shy away from the latter word. When a suicide bomber blows up a bus carrying innocent civilians, it's an act of terrorism, not militancy.

The Herald is the latest in a string of papers to recently address this issue head-on, however belatedly.
Here's an overview of the positions they have expressed. (Note particularly the distinction between al Qaeda and Hamas that the Orlando Sentinel, Boston Globe and Washington Post attempted to make) :

Name, newspaper  Date of article  Should we call Hamas ‘terrorists’ in news reports? Should we call al Qaeda ‘terrorists’  in news reports? Reasons for double standard
Manning Pynn, Orlando Sentinel August 24, 2003 No Shouldn't have, but it’s too late now, so yes Americans’ shock; US wasn’t at war, Palestinians are resisting occupation
Philip Gailey, St. Petersburg Times August 31, 2003 Yes Yes n/a - double standard should end
Christine Chinlund, Boston Globe Sept. 8, 2003 No; but their acts can be called “terrorism" Yes Only Qaeda fits def. of “groups that have no clearly
identifiable or explicitly articulated political objective”; Hamas’ social service functions; Israel is “far flung”
Michael Getler, Washington Post Sept. 21, 2003 No Yes Hamas' territorial ambitions, nationalism, social work; al Qaeda is everywhere, but Hamas is regional; al Qaeda does random attacks, but Hamas part of war
Tom Fielder, Miami Herald  Jan. 4, 2004 Yes, when describing act at least n/a n/a



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I would like to know what they would call it if they were sitting in a cafe and suddenly a suicide bomber bblew him/herself up near them. What moral relativism!!

more double standard from the AP:

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