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Last Updated: Tuesday, 19 July, 2005, 10:35 GMT 11:35 UK
Bombers are terrorists, says Grade
Michael Grade
The BBC chairman said he was "absolutely clear" on the issue

BBC Chairman Michael Grade has said the London bombers were terrorists and should be described as such by BBC News.

The chairman's comments, made on Radio 4's Today programme, came after reports in the media that the word "terrorist" had either been banned completely or dropped in favour of the word "bomber".

There were also reports that the BBC News website re-edited some stories to remove the word "terrorist" after they had been published.

NewsWatch, and other BBC outlets on TV, radio and online, have since received hundreds of complaints that the word "terrorist" seemed to have been dropped from its bulletins.

No ban

When these complaints were put to the BBC, it issued a statement which said the word terrorist was not banned and that it was up to individual editors to decide when and where to use it.

But in the same statement, it referred to the Editorial Guidelines which claim: "The word 'terrorist' itself can be a barrier rather than an aid to understanding."

Grab from BBC News website
The news website was accused of replacing "terrorists" with "bombers"

However, when asked on the Today programme whether the people who carried out the bombings should be described as terrorists by the BBC, Mr Grade replied: "Yes, yes, and the BBC has been describing them as such."

Pressed further, Mr Grade said it was a view shared by "all the BBC journalists and editors".

He added: "The fact is that the BBC's coverage has used the word terror, terrorism, terrorist very, very freely."

Mr Grade also referred to claims that the BBC News website re-edited its stories and said Director General Mark Thompson would be reporting to the governors on the matter.


Below is an extract from Michael Grade's appearance on the Today programme.

James Naughtie: Do you think that the people who carried out the London bombing are terrorists and should be described as such on the BBC?

Michael Grade: Yes, yes, and the BBC has been describing them as such.

JM: Well, why was this statement issued immediately afterwards, referring to the Editorial Guidelines which point to the difficulty of labelling people immediately... as a piece of editorial guidance to staff?

MG: The fact is that the BBC's coverage has used the word terror, terrorism, terrorist very, very freely...

JN: (Interrupts) On this programme.

MG: ...On all our major news outlets. There was some sub-editing of a couple of pages on the website which I haven't got to the bottom of yet but which the director general, I'm sure, will tell the governors about at our regular meeting.

JN: And it is your view that the perpetrators of this bombing were terrorists and should be described as such?

MG: Not only my view - it's the view of all the BBC journalists and editors and it's been very clearly signalled in all our news outlets.

JN: Isn't there sometimes a danger that we - let me put this as politely as I can - tie ourselves in knots on these questions?

MG: The BBC does tend to be defensive at times - and that's understandable given the attacks that are launched at the BBC from all quarters over and over again. On this particular issue, I am absolutely clear.

JN: You want us to be robust?

MG: Yes. And right.

JN: Preferably both at once. Michael Grade thank you very much.




SEE ALSO
Trouble with the T-word?
13 Jul 05 |  Notes

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