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The BBC and the "t" word

Discussion in 'BBS Hangout: Debate & Discussion' started by gwayneco, Jul 14, 2005.

  1. gwayneco

    gwayneco Contributing Member

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    http://www.telegraph.co.uk/opinion/...1302.xml&sSheet=/opinion/2005/07/13/ixop.html

    BBC language that Labour loves to hear
    By Tom Leonard
    (Filed: 13/07/2005)

    When is a terrorist not a terrorist? When he is on the BBC, of course. Where - according to the corporation's editorial guidelines - "the word 'terrorist' itself can be a barrier rather than aid to understanding".

    Bomber, attacker, insurgent, militant - all are fine by the Beeb because they carry no "emotional or value judgments". And heaven forbid anyone get emotional about the deaths of at least 52 people in the London bombings last week.

    Within hours of the explosions, a memo was sent to senior editors on the main BBC news programmes from Helen Boaden, head of news. While she was aware "we are dancing on the head of a pin", the BBC was very worried about offending its World Service audience, she said.

    BBC output was not to describe the killers of more than 50 in London as "terrorists" although - nonsensically - they could refer to the bombings as "terror attacks". And while the guidelines generously concede that non-BBC should be allowed to use the "t" word, BBC online was not even content with that and excised it from its report of Tony Blair's statement to the Commons.

    A row has now broken out with a handful of the corporation's most senior journalists and news executives, fighting what one described yesterday as a "disgusting and appalling" edict. He was particularly angry, he added, because most World Service listeners don't even pay a penny for the BBC.

    The BBC militants/insurgents may be furious but they can hardly be surprised. The corporation that only last year was winning plaudits for standing up to Downing Street bullying over Iraqi WMDs is now cosier with Labour than it has been at any time in its history.

    Far from the Hutton Inquiry teaching the BBC that it should be less politically engaged, its bosses appear to have realised that it is actually fine to play politics - just so long as they are the politics of Labour.

    The same senior BBC journalist who expressed contempt for the "terrorist" ban was withering about the corporation's current Africa season. The BBC's interminable series of programmes highlighting poverty in Africa has been a "disgrace", he said. "We've simply been advancing Gordon Brown's agenda and in an entirely unsophisticated way."

    It didn't get less sophisticated than the anti-poverty drama, The Girl In The Cafe, in which the writer Richard Curtis provided an Honest Joe chancellor character who seemed clearly intended to be mistaken for his friend, Mr Brown.

    Later that week, viewers watching Live8 could have been forgiven for thinking it had been organised by the BBC, not Bob Geldof. Just days after it largely turned a blind eye to the Battle of Trafalgar commemorations, the corporation set aside hour after hour of airtime to events in Hyde Park.

    In the festival of hyperbole and back-slapping that followed, nobody interviewed by the BBC cheerleaders was allowed to be anything other than deliriously positive about the campaign to "make poverty history". And when BBC1 covered the campaign on the evening news, it interviewed only two people - both Government ministers.

    As Adam Boulton, Sky News political editor, told a Lords select committee two weeks ago, it has reached the stage where a public service institution "rather than serving the public, gets close to serving the Government".

    Boulton also picked out the BBC's NHS Day programmes, which stressed the merits of the health service more than any drawbacks. If Sky aired a Private Health Day, people would say it was "absurd", he said.

    Few people at the top of the BBC think that not calling terrorists "terrorists" is remotely absurd. And that, say their critics, is the nub of the problem: corporation bosses are so sure they are "doing good" and that their assumptions are shared by all that they believe they are apolitical.

    A glimpse into the future was provided a year ago this month when - at a time when many thought the BBC still had a lot of sucking up to do to the Government over its charter renewal - its director general set out the way forward. Mark Thompson used the sort of language he knew Downing Street would like - because it was precisely the language that the Labour-dominated regulator Ofcom has used about the BBC.

    No longer just a broadcaster, the corporation was to be a social force in the land, he said. The corporation was an "important builder of social capital, seeking to increase social cohesion and tolerance", which in future would try to "foster audience understanding of differences of ethnicity, faith, gender, sexuality, age and ability or disability".

    A few months earlier, in its annual statement of programme policy, the BBC for the first time included a section entitled "the purpose of the BBC". Its five aims include ones to "support the UK's role in the world" and "help make the UK a more inclusive society".

    What has any of this got to do with broadcasting? And where was the public debate before the state-owned broadcaster was allowed to take on itself such overtly political roles? The answers, predictably, are nothing and nowhere.

    The BBC - which, true to form, was sounding off in its annual report yesterday about BBC1 focusing too much on white, middle-class suburbia - argues privately that it is trying to seek out a new role as its audiences slip in the digital age.

    Critics counter that it is misusing the licence fee and imposing the views of the metropolitan elite upon the rest of the population. Mr Thompson, we learnt at the weekend, is a close confidante of Sir Ian Blair, the "pc PC" Metropolitan Police Commissioner, and the pair exchange notes on how to "transform" their organisations. Who would have thought it?
     
  2. MacBeth

    MacBeth Member

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    What is the Telegraph's usual position re: Labour?
     
  3. bigtexxx

    bigtexxx Contributing Member

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    Another blow to the credibility of the BBC. The facts are mounting...
     
  4. MacBeth

    MacBeth Member

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    Quick question: Contras: Terrorists, or not terrorists?
     
  5. tigermission1

    tigermission1 Contributing Member

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    This might just be going a tad too far for the BBC in order to try and remain "neutral". I don't think there would have been widespread boycotting of the BBC over describing those terrorists for what they are, which is -- well -- terrorists!

    Heck, even Al-Jazeera refered to it multiple times as "Hajamat Irhabiya", or "Terrorist Attacks".
     
  6. tigermission1

    tigermission1 Contributing Member

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    Anyone can be described as "terrorist", it's not exclusive to non-state actors or particular militant groups, etc. In fact, most often throughout modern history, terrorism was largely commited in the form of "state terrorism", usually during warfare.

    The intentional targeting of civilians is terrorism, regardless of who does it or how it's done, it's as simple as that.
     
  7. wnes

    wnes Contributing Member

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    If on 9/11 there was only one plane involved which hit Pentagon, per your "definition", this is not terrorism then?
     
  8. tigermission1

    tigermission1 Contributing Member

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    It depends, if the Pentagon is a military target, then during warfare it would be a legit target for an attack. On the other hand, if it had other civilian functions not related to planning/executing wars etc, then it might be terrorism.

    I am conflicted about the Pentagon, so I am not sure about that one. I think it was a legitimate military target, I am not sure about that one though.

    Anyways, the same group that targeted the Pentagon targeted the WTC, which is a civilian target. Therefor, collectively speaking it was an act of terrorism.

    Generally speaking, the word "terrorism" has been used, or rather misused, so often that the lines have become sort of blurred as to what exactly constitutes terrorism. In fact, the State Dept and the Pentagon have two seperate definitions for "terrorism", so go figure!
     
  9. FranchiseBlade

    FranchiseBlade Contributing Member
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    How dare they call him a bomber.
     
  10. wnes

    wnes Contributing Member

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    Not trying to be nit-picking, but I can't help scrutinizing you just a little more. ;)

    First forget about WTC, consider my original question a hyperthetical one.

    Let's just say the only non-military functions in the Pentagon are limited to such routines as food preparing, janitorial, etc. If a plane was hijacked and hit the Pentagon during peace time, is it an act of terrorism? Are the civilian casualties (which of course include the passengers on the plane) "legitimate" collateral damages, according to "your" version of terrorism?
     
  11. tigermission1

    tigermission1 Contributing Member

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    Ahh, good, thanks for the reminder, I completely forgot about the passengers on the planes that were unwilling culprits of the attacks (shame on me :eek: ). In that case, yes, it's terrorism once they hijacked those planes and decided to end the lives of everyone on the planes. The very act of using planes full of passengers as missiles is terrorism, IMO.
     
  12. wnes

    wnes Contributing Member

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    Geez, I derailed my own topic. Forget about the plane. Let's say someone sneaked into the Pentagon and bombed a corner of it which happened to have the type of civilians I mentioned in my previous post. Is that a terrorism, during peacetime?
     
  13. tigermission1

    tigermission1 Contributing Member

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    Well, I guess not since the Pentagon is a military target, but I am not so positive about that. If it was a warship it would be clearly a legitimate target, and I am inclined to say that the Pentagon would be considered a military target regardless of who works inside of it.

    As for the "peacetime" reference, you have to remember that technically speaking, Al-Qaeda HAS (in 1998 I believe) issued an outright declaration of war on the U.S., so in a sense the war had begun, but one side of the conflict (us) didn't take notice or take it seriously enough to prepare for it.

    If you noticed, Al-Qaeda tends to take it upon itself to go through certain stages: first, a warning to the other side of "intention" to attack; second, a warning of "pending" attacks; third, an actual attack. They did precisely this with the Europeans: first issued a warning and an opportunity for the Europeans to distance themselves from the Americans, then warned of pending attacks on select European targets, and then finally carried out attacks on Madrid, London, and probably in the future as they said in their statement following the London attacks "Denmark and Italy".
     
  14. thadeus

    thadeus Contributing Member

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    Credibility is at a premium on the internet these days, I hear.

     

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