By Mike Fegelman, Executive Director of HonestReporting Canada
HonestReporting Canada has consistently denounced media outlets who refuse to call terror by its rightful name.
In 2004, one major Canadian news provider, Canwest (now PostMedia News) was frustrated when media outlets consistently sanitized terror by referring to the deliberate targeting of innocents for political purposes in broad political terms. Canwest had at the time implemented a policy which saw its editors replace terms like “militants,” “insurgents,” and “activists,” with the word “terrorist” or any of its variants when applicable.
Reuters, the international news agency and wire service, took umbrage with CanWest’s editing of its wire reports. Reuters top international editor at the time, David Schlesinger, openly acknowledged that one of the main reasons his agency had refused to call terrorists “terrorists,” had nothing to do with the editorial pursuit of objectivity, but rather was a response to intimidation from thugs and their supporters.
This squabble between Canwest and Reuters immediately came to mind when we spotted what appears to be a curious editing practice on the part of the CBC. An April 17 CBC.ca article sourced to the Associated Press wire services reported on the hundreds of Palestinian prisoners holding hunger strikes in Israeli prisons.
The CBC’s article reported the following:
“Khader Adnan, who didn’t eat for 66 days, was set to be freed later Tuesday as part of a deal reached with Israel. Adnan, a spokesman of the Islamic Jihad group, called his strike to protest Israel’s policy of “administrative detention,” in which Palestinians can be sentenced to months or years behind bars by military courts without being charged. In February, Israel agreed to release him at the end of his detention in exchange for ending the hunger strike.”
Interestingly, the original Associated Press wire report explicitly described Islamic Jihad as “violent,” yet the CBC’s version of this AP article curiously does not include this reference.
Indeed, the CBC’s article is an exact replica of the AP’s article minus this one relevant adjective which describes the nature of this terror organization as “violent.” As a result of this omission, CBC.ca readers were not informed that Islamic Jihad is a dangerous terrorist organization that pursues Israel’s destruction through violent means.
We are left to ask, did CBC journalists intentionally edit out this word and if so, why? One wonders how Associated Press editors would react to news that its wire content was altered by the CBC.
With the aforementioned in mind, we contacted senior editors at CBC News requesting that the word “violent” be added as a qualifier to describe Islamic Jihad in this article. Additionally, we asked CBC News to explain how the term “violent” came to be purged in the CBC’s version of this AP article.
We await the CBC’s explanation.