BBC Stirs Debate on Political Correctness

Filtering Events of All Emotional Content?

‘Terrorist’ Or ‘Bomber’?

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San Diego, California (July 15, 2005) The BBC’s use of the term ‘misguided criminals’ and ‘bombers’ when referring to the perpetrators of the recent London blasts have stirred an international debate on politically correct language. The words replace the term terrorist, which according to the BBC can “carry emotional or value judgments”.

According to the Global Language Monitor’s exclusive PQ (Political-sensitivity Quotient) Index, the term ‘terrorist’ appears 700% more frequently on the web than ‘bomber’ when linked to terror-related activities such as suicide bombings, and the like. When tracking global news articles only, the word ‘bomber’ can be found in about 40% of the articles, though usually in combination with ‘terrorist’ or ‘terrorist-related’ words. The phrase ‘misguided criminals’ is found only about 5000 times on the entire web, many times linked to the emerging BBC story.

BBC guidelines state that credibility should never be undermined by the “careless use of words which (sic) carry emotional or value judgments”.

“The primary function of a news organization is to detail events as they occur in their existing cultural milieu, thereby recording the first draft of history. The BBC seems concerned with overstepping this boundary into what was once called yellow journalism. The greater danger here is to filter emotion-laden events of all emotional content in their pursuit of the non-judgmental,” said Paul JJ Payack, President (and the WordMan) of the Global Language Monitor.

The PQ Index is a proprietary algorithm that tracks politically sensitive words and phrases in the print. The words and phrases are tracked in relation to their frequency, contextual usage and appearance in global media outlets, thereby separating the spin and the hype from the facts. The PQ Index is published quarterly.

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