September 30, 2008

Media sidestepping on Terrorism

I often wince when local and international media refer to terrorists using the more sanitized term, “militants”; a term that offers legitimacy and/or a more positive connotation for those that resort to deadly violence for a cause.

Sure enough, if I were a journalist writing for Australia’s ABC, Britain’s BBC or the likes of AFP, I would find myself avoiding the term ‘terrorist” knowing in advance that it would, almost certainly be edited.

Hence, it was pleasing to note Mark Henderson's recent write up on this at The Australian Conservative:

The battle against terrorism is a long and difficult one that requires the responsible and committed involvement of all layers of government and other institutions.

One of those institutions is the news media. It is high time the media stopped providing terrorist groups with some kind of legitimacy by referring to them as “militants”. Terrorists are not “militants” - they are terrorists.

The issue has again been highlighted in the wake of the tragic attacks in India at the weekend. At least 21 people were killed and more than 100 injured - many seriously - in a series of bomb attacks in the capital New Delhi. The attacks have been claimed by a group calling itself the Indian Mujahideen.

Channel Nine news reported the attacks as being the work of “Islamic Militant groups”, while the ABC Online carried a Reuters report that referred to “militant attacks”. The justification that the ABC has previously provided for using the term “militant” is that they do not want to “label” groups. It would be quite wrong to hurt the feelings of terrorists by actually calling them terrorists.

Until it was embarrassed into changing its policy, the ABC News department used to remind its journalists that “one man’s terrorist is another one’s freedom fighter”.

So the murderous Indian Mujahideen are “militants” and some people’s freedom fighters. Quite what freedom they are fighting for is unclear when they said the reason for the New Delhi attacks was revenge.

The Reuters report that the ABC ran included this quote: “The National Counter-terrorism Centre in Washington says 3,674 people had been killed in militant attacks in India between January 2004 and March 2007, a death toll second only to that in Iraq.”

The NCTC said no such thing. Their whole report on global terrorism in 2007 refers to just that - terrorism. It even defines terrorism and gives examples of attacks that are NOT terrorism.

Here is how they define terrorism: “Premeditated politically motivated violence perpetrated against non-combatant targets by sub national groups or clandestine agents.” There is no mention of the word “militant.”

It is high time the news media started to play a responsible role in the war against terrorism. They should stop giving legitimacy to murderous terrorists by sanitizing them with the description of militant.

I recall in 2005 and following the London bombings that the BBC and even the leftist Guardian quite unexpectedly discovered the word terrorism in its reporting. I guess it was different reporting on an event that occurred in the neighborhood rather than somewhere else. In contrast to reporting of similar events elsewhere, where we find a preference for terms like, "fighters,” “activists,” “guerrillas” and “militants.” In covering the London bombings news organizations did what’s expected, report the facts and the suffering imposed, without the usual predisposition in relation to the perpetrators, as is frequently the case, when covering comparable atrocities in for example, Israel.



Tapline said...

Otto, Good post..I was not aware of the term militant as it related to Terrorist. I agree 100% as it relates to post, but I would also add the term murderers as a synonom....stay well....

AI said...

Thanks Tapline!

MK said...

"I guess it was different reporting on an event that occurred in the neighborhood rather than somewhere else."

It finally penetrated their thick skulls that the terrorists don't step onto a bus and tell all the terrorist-supporting leftists to get off, they'll just blow you to pieces like the rest of us.

I don't understand what it is with these folk, why must the action they are so confused about, that they are so torn over affect them personally before they finally get it.

Either they're stupid or they really don't care about the victims.

Karen said...

I've read that it is the specific policy of many organizations - Reuters springs to mind - that the word 'terrorist' is forbidden to use. Mostly it is political correctness and cowardice. It's a shame, really. The threats continue to grow and so few are willing to report the truth.

Good post, Otto.

Anonymous said...

Another great post Otto! I cannot understand it. When does terrorism become a politically correct issue. It is called terrorism because it envokes terror...... so that would mean that a terrorist should be called a terrorist!!

Politically correct be damned!!

Anonymous said...

Hi Otto! Great posting. I truly enjoyed reading it. Quite an essay to say the least.

It is always the case - the politicians, journalists, msm, as bad as it is - they are all pandering and it will cost us all sooner or later.

Anonymous said...

Great blog Otto. People need to investigate a candidate before voting, we have only heard his birth certificate is a forgery..why is that? His associations are either Muslims like Rezko or criminals. Why should we have a president we know so little about? a very strange background, it’’s not safe. America is too precious to hand over to the first good speaker, what a stupid reason to vote for him. Obama has one interesting mentor (he is dead) he read his book “rules for radicals”, Alinsky is considered an Obama mentor. Did I mention Rev. Wright? ACORN a thuggery group forging votes. and the list goes on

AI said...


Thanks and welcome to AI, come by again....

Howard said...


Obama wants to
create a National Security Force
with the size and budget of our entire military to
control American citizens

Obama wants to eliminate our nuclear arsonal,
and render us defenseless against foreign tyrants.

Obama wants to eliminate private gun ownership,
and do away with the 2nd Amendment of the Constitution

Are foreign donations powering the Obama campaign?

Obama's appeal in the Muslim world

Pro-Obama, Muslim-led voter registration in mosques

Palestinians phone bank for Obama

We are loosing our right to Free Speech, the 1st Amendment
to the Constitution, when the media is in the tank for Obama

Obama wants to change our National Anthem

Obama chose to align himself with anti-American racist, Jeremiah Wright
for TWENTY YEARS ... along with anti-American Ferrahkan, and Ayers.

Obama Youth organize ...