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Wednesday, July 13, 2005

Bad policy at the BBC

I have often defended the BBC against those who rant and rave at its supposedly liberal bias and those who think that the BBC is part of some bizarre conspiracy to destroy the west and to subvert our minds. I hear arguments from some so-called conservatives who accuse liberals of being elitist for thinking that the 'common-man' will be baffled and misled by politicians and that only they can see the politican's words for what they are; yet those same conservatives argue that the people will be unduly influenced by the wording of news articles that only they can see through. Funny or what?

However, it seems that political correctness is overtaking common sense to stupid proportions at Auntie. A few bloggers have noted that the BBC has been scrubbing the word 'terrorist' from its reporting. Strangely I was unaware of this phenomenon, mostly because I heard 'terrorist' and 'terrorism' being used on the BBC news, both TV and radio. That said, there appears to be a policy to not use these words on the web and in world broadcasts and they have been scrubbed from older news stories. Why? Here is what the Telegraph says:

The BBC's guidelines state that its credibility is undermined by the "careless use of words which carry emotional or value judgments".

Consequently, "the word 'terrorist' itself can be a barrier rather than an aid to understanding" and its use should be "avoided", the guidelines say.

Now I can see where they are coming from, but they are wrong. By all means mix words up, substitute bomber for terrorist, use criminal, but don't do it to avoid using the word terrorist.

And now my question becomes: why the difference in approach between foreign news and domestic? Are they afraid of alienating a foreign market? They shouldn't be, because first and foremost they are a domestic news provider.

Hat tip to Hubris


David said...

If you subscribe to any BBC news feeds, you'll find they are constantly editing and updating older stories, although to what degree I'm not sure -- I've often wondered if one can get [or write] a "version tracker" to display the differences between old and new versions of stories. They could make use of ins and del tags to make changes more transparent -- that's why those tags were designed.

hubris said...

Thanks for posting on this.

The weird thing is them saying use of the word "can be a barrier rather than an aid to understanding," when the word simply objectively and precisely describes what terrorists do (i.e. use violence against civilians in order to attain their goals). The definition itself is neutral, it's just that most of us happen to agree that the practice is evil.

Kav said...

Agreed, I would be intrigued to know who came up with this policy.