Thursday, June 3, 2010

What happened to those scare quotes?

Reuters has a rule against publication of the words terror, terrorist, or terrorism -- at least when Israel uses the terms to describe Arab acts of violence aimed at civilians.  The Reuters rule can be found in its Handbook of Journalism which states:
We may refer without attribution to terrorism and counter-terrorism in general but do not refer to specific events as terrorism.
Certainly, when Israeli officials use the word terrorism, Reuters is meticulous about either bracketing it in scare quotes or censoring the term entirely in favor of an alternative that is more, shall we say, acceptable to the agency.  Like "militancy", for example.  Thus does Reuters exercise its own value judgment in its role as apologist for Arab attacks directed at Jews.  Or as Reuters global news editor Stephen Jukes once notoriously wrote (scroll down):
We all know that one man's terrorist is another man's freedom fighter and that Reuters upholds the principle that we do not use the word terrorist.
Except of course, when someone is characterizing Israel as such:
Muslim Turkey, one of Israel's closest allies in the Middle East, said the blockade is "inhuman" and that Israel's interception of the convoy was state terrorism.
Apparently, no scare quotes or substitution required when the finger is pointed at the Jews (and Reuters agrees).

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