BBC report on 9/11 anniversary adheres to editorial guidelines – and that’s a problem

The BBC’s editorial guidelines on Language when Reporting Terrorism state:


As has been repeatedly documented on these pages, the BBC does not consistently adhere to those guidelines: avoidance of the word terror except in quotes is erratic and the use – or not – of the term is clearly often influenced by factors beyond the nature of the act itself.

On September 11th however, the BBC News website did produce a report which meets those editorial guidelines impeccably.9-11-art

Readers of the report titled “9/11 anniversary: Services held 15 years on” found that the word terrorism appeared just once in a direct quote from the US president.

“We are still the America that looks out for one another, bound by our shared belief that I am my brother’s keeper, I am my sister’s keeper. In the face of terrorism, how we respond matters.”

Apart from that quote, the BBC managed to produce a report about coordinated acts of terror in which thousands of people were murdered without describing them as such in its own words. An organisation which is afraid to make a “value judgement” about such an event clearly has a very serious problem.

Related Articles:

Continuing the mapping of BBC inconsistency in terrorism reporting

Continuing to map the BBC’s inconsistent use of the term ‘terror’

BBC finds a ‘working definition’ for terrorism in Europe

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