Andrew at Bound By Gravity, along with numerous other Canadian blogs, has much to say today about the CBC policy on use of the word ‘terrorism.’ The CBC, or Canadian Broadcasting Corporation, is Canada’s public broadcaster. The policy makes this point (emphasis mine):
Avoid labelling any specific bombing or other assault as a “terrorist act” unless it’s attributed (in a TV or Radio clip, or in a direct quote on the Web). For instance, we should refer to the deadly blast at that nightclub in Bali in October 2002 as an “attack,” not as a “terrorist attack.” The same applies to the Madrid train attacks in March 2004, the London bombings in July 2005 and the attacks against the United States in 2001, which the CBC prefers to call “the Sept. 11 attacks” or some similar expression. (The BBC, Reuters and many others follow similar policies.)
Terrorism generally implies attacks against unarmed civilians for political, religious or some other ideological reason. But it’s a highly controversial term that can leave journalists taking sides in a conflict.
By restricting ourselves to neutral language, we aren’t faced with the problem of calling one incident a “terrorist act” (e.g., the destruction of the World Trade Center) while classifying another as, say, a mere “bombing” (e.g., the destruction of a crowded shopping mall in the Middle East).
So what does that leave? Attacks in the name of fashion aren’t terrorism?
Andrew makes a great point:
Look – I would be completely supportive of attempts by the media to use the English language in an appropriate fashion (i.e. not overusing words like “tragedy”), however this is a transparent attempt to remove the word “terrorist” from the reporting of… well…. terrorism. By all means don’t gratuitously call every single attack that occurs a “terrorist attack” (especially if evidence has not yet been found to link it to a terrorist organization), however do not purposefully avoid using the word “terrorism” in your reporting when it accurately describes the situation.
Also, the CBC clearly defines itself as a second rate news reporting organization not capable of actually defining the story with this comment:
Avoid labelling any specific bombing or other assault as a “terrorist act” unless it’s attributed (in a TV or Radio clip, or in a direct quote on the Web).
By that usage CBC is articulating that it will not write the news; it will merely report news that has already been attributed. Of course that always leaves them with someone to blame. I guess if you don’t hear the word “terrorism”, then it doesn’t exist.
Kate at small dead animals puts it so succinctly:
Memo To CBC. Islamofascism does not recognize “neutrality”. You have taken sides.