In response to complaints the BBC is explaining that:
Our Guidelines on use of language state (sections 11.3.5 and 11.3.6):
“Our reporting of possible acts of terror should be timely and responsible, bearing in mind our requirement for due accuracy and impartiality. Terrorism is a difficult and emotive subject with significant political overtones and care is required in the use of language that carries value judgements. We should not use the term ‘terrorist’ without attribution.”
“The word ‘terrorist’ itself can be a barrier rather than an aid to understanding. We should convey to our audience the full consequences of the act by describing what happened. We should use words which specifically describe the perpetrator such as ‘bomber’, ‘attacker’, ‘gunman’, ‘kidnapper’, ‘insurgent’ and ‘militant’. We should not adopt other people’s language as our own; our responsibility is to remain objective and report in ways that enable our audiences to make their own assessments about who is doing what to whom.”
By “attribution“, they presumably mean quoting someone’s words. A quick search does reveal widespread use of the terms “terror” and “terrorist” on the BBC website which are not direct quotes from third parties. Even in one case with a headline “Man sentenced for wearing pro-terrorists T-shirt” referencing Hamas. Kirsty Wark calling Hamas “terrorists” on Newsnight last night suggest that line is not going to hold. Nor should it.
Guido concedes that every dictator calls armed opponents terrorists. However, when an armed group kills women and children, beheads babies, videos the murder of a grandmother and uploads it to her Facebook page, makes fathers watch the killing of their children before their own execution – this is terrorism. The BBC has got this manifestly wrong.