Editors weigh in on ‘T-word’

HonestReporting has continually stressed the importance of calling terror ‘terror’ in news reports, whether the premeditated attack against innocent civilians occurs in New York City, Jerusalem, or Baghdad.

The executive editor of the Miami Herald has just expressed his paper’s commitment to do so:

It’s Herald policy to use the most neutral language available in a given situation. We, too, label those who fight for a cause as militants. But unlike some of our colleagues, we see a line where a militant becomes a terrorist and we don’t shy away from the latter word. When a suicide bomber blows up a bus carrying innocent civilians, it’s an act of terrorism, not militancy.

The Herald is the latest in a string of papers to recently address this issue head-on, however belatedly.
Here’s an overview of the positions they have expressed. (Note particularly the distinction between al Qaeda and Hamas that the Orlando Sentinel, Boston Globe and Washington Post attempted to make) :


 Date of

we call Hamas ‘terrorists’ in news reports?

Should we call
al Qaeda ‘terrorists’  in news reports?

Reasons for
double standard

Manning Pynn,
Orlando Sentinel
August 24,
No Shouldn’t
have, but it’s too late now, so yes
shock; US wasn’t at war, Palestinians are resisting occupation

Philip Gailey, St. Petersburg Times
August 31,
Yes Yes n/a – double
standard should end

Christine Chinlund, Boston Globe
Sept. 8, 2003 No; but their
acts can be called “terrorism”
Yes Only Qaeda
fits def. of “groups that have no clearly
identifiable or explicitly articulated political objective”; Hamas’ social
service functions; Israel is “far flung”

Michael Getler, Washington Post
Sept. 21, 2003 No Yes Hamas’
territorial ambitions, nationalism, social work; al Qaeda is everywhere, but
Hamas is regional; al Qaeda does random attacks, but Hamas part of war

Tom Fielder, Miami Herald
 Jan. 4,
Yes, when
describing act at least
n/a n/a