When Is A Terrorist Attack Not A Terrorist Attack?

When is a terrorist attack not a terrorist attack?

When you are working for the BBC, that’s when.

The BBC has been accused of ‘sanitising’ terrorism under plans for an effective ban on journalists using the word ‘terror’.

Reporters will be told to avoid using the word to describe any terror attack, unless they are quoting someone else.

Instead, they will refer to terror attacks by naming specific details, such as the location and the method of slaughter used.

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’.

Oh good grief.

A source said: ‘The end result is a desire to squeeze the word terror out altogether, which many people think is nuts.’

BBC reporters are already advised to steer clear of ‘terrorist’ and ‘terrorism’, under guidance first drawn up during the IRA bombings.

Guidelines tell staff: ‘Terrorism is a difficult and emotive subject with significant political overtones.’ Presenters use the words ‘militant’ or ‘jihadists’ as substitutes.

The new ruling is likely to anger critics who objected to the way the BBC covered the New Zealand terror attack earlier this year. It appeared to avoid using the phrase terror attack by referring to it as the ‘Christchurch shooting’.

At the time, BBC News editorial director Kamal Ahmed defended the move, saying there is ‘no agreed definition of what a terrorist is’. However, he said there was no ban on any expression.

According to The New Oxford Dictionary of English, a ‘terrorist’ is someone who uses ‘violence and intimidation in the pursuit of political aims’.

English novelist, essayist, journalist and critic George Orwell was unavailable for comment.

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