HonestReporting has repeatedly denounced media outlets’ categorical refusal to call terrorists ‘terrorists’ in news reports (see our special report on this topic). As Islamic terror continues to spread worldwide, one major news outlet decided that enough is enough — it’s time to call terrorism by its name. CanWest, owners of Canada’s largest newspaper chain, recently implemented a new editorial policy to use the ‘T-word’ in reports on brutal terrorist acts and groups.
So when CanWest’s National Post published a Reuters report on Sept. 14, they exercised their right to change this Reuters line that whitewashes Palestinian terror:
… the al-Aqsa Martyrs Brigades, which has been involved in a four-year-old revolt against Israeli occupation in Gaza and the West Bank. (Jeffrey Heller, 9/13 ‘Sharon Faces Netanyahu Challenge’)
to this, more accurate line:
… the al-Aqsa Martyrs Brigades, a terrorist group that has been involved in a four-year-old campaign of violence against Israel.
Reuters didn’t like the adjustment, and took the unusual step of officially informing CanWest that if it intended to continue this practice, CanWest should remove Reuters’ name from the byline. Why? The New York Times reported (emphasis added):
“Our editorial policy is that we don’t use emotive words when labeling someone,” said David A. Schlesinger, Reuters’ global managing editor. “Any paper can change copy and do whatever they want. But if a paper wants to change our copy that way, we would be more comfortable if they remove the byline.”
Mr. Schlesinger said he was concerned that changes like those made at CanWest could lead to “confusion” about what Reuters is reporting and possibly endanger its reporters in volatile areas or situations.
“My goal is to protect our reporters and protect our editorial integrity,” he said.
[Schlesinger repeated this statement in a recent radio interview with CBC, when he described the ‘serious consequences’ if certain ‘people in the Mideast’ were to believe Reuters called such men ‘terrorists.‘]
This is a stunning admission: Reuters’ top international editor openly acknowledges that one of the main reasons his agency refuses to call terrorists ‘terrorists’ has nothing to do with editorial pursuit of objectivity, but rather is a response to intimidation from thugs and their supporters.
In every other news arena, western journalists pride themselves on bravely ‘telling it as is,’ regardless of their subjects’ (potentially hostile) reactions. So why do editors at Reuters — and, presumably, other news outlets — bend over backwards to appease Islamic terrorists, using ‘safe’ language that deliberately minimizes their inhuman acts?
Scott Anderson, editor-in-chief of CanWest Publications, said that Reuters’ policy ‘undermine[s] journalistic principles,’ and raised the key question: ‘If you’re couching language to protect people, are you telling the truth?’
An editorial in the Ottawa Citizen, one of CanWest’s newspapers, spells out the issue in black and white:
Terrorism is a technical term. It describes a modus operandi, a tactic. We side with security professionals who define terrorism as the deliberate targeting of civilians in pursuit of a political goal. Those who bombed the nightclub in Bali were terrorists. Suicide bombers who strap explosives to their bodies and blow up people eating in a pizza parlour are terrorists. The men and women who took a school full of hostages in Beslan, Russia, and shot some of the children in the back as they tried to flee to safety were terrorists. We as journalists do not violate our impartiality by describing them as such.
Ironically, it is supposedly neutral terms like ‘militant’ that betray a bias, insofar as they have a sanitizing effect. Activists for various political causes can be ‘militant,’ but they don’t take children hostage.
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The CanWest/Reuters affair is remarkably similar to CNN’s Iraqi cover-up from last year, when CNN’s top news executive admitted that CNN’s knowledge of murder, torture, and planned assassinations in Saddam’s Iraq was suppressed in order to maintain CNN’s Baghdad bureau. We asked back then:
Now that this senior CNN executive has come clean, it leaves us wondering: In what other regions ruled by terrorist dictators do the media toe the party line so as to remain in good stead?
We now have our answer in the Palestinian region. Reuters admits to regulating their language to appease the terrorists ? and that’s an open admission of pro-Palestinian bias.
(1) Send comments to Reuters: firstname.lastname@example.org
(2) If your local paper uses Reuters wire stories for coverage of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, bring Reuters’ admission of non-objectivity to the attention of your local editor.
(3) Write a short letter to your local newspaper, citing Reuters’ declaration that the goal of their soft language is to protect reporters, and recognizing the implication: Reuters is not providing unadulterated, independent coverage of stories like the Israeli-Arab conflict.
Thank you for your ongoing involvement in the battle against media bias.