Critics have been accusing The Philadelphia Inquirer newspaper of failing to accurately report on terrorism and terrorists for years and have pointed to the failure of the newsroom to use word terrorist when it is clearly called for
The Inquirer reached a new low with an April 26 news story.
as evidence. Optimism should not be reserved that the media bias at The Inquirer will change any time soon simply because new owners won the April 28, 2010 auction of The Inquirer’s parent company, Philadelphia Media Holdings LLC.
Right before the auction The Inquirer reached a new low with an April 26 news story.
The Inquirer proved that they won’t even use the word terrorist when reporting on an ersatz, simulated terrorist attack.
In a news item with the title ‘Dirty bomb’ drill under way in Phila." unnamed Inquirer staffers wrote that “About 700 officials, experts and responders from a range of federal, state and local agencies will take part in a 5-day drill starting today simulating the cleanup following a dirty bomb blast near Independence Hall."
Why didn’t the article read “cleanup following a dirty bomb terrorist attack near Independence Hall”?
Who else would launch a dirty bomb attack? Community activists?
The entire article can be found here: http://www.philly.com/philly/news/breaking/20100426_Dirty_bomb_drill_under_way_in_Independence_Hall_area.html
The Inquirer does not use the word "terrorist" a single time when reporting on the ‘Dirty bomb’ drill.
Here is another, specific instance where the word terrorist would have fit naturally into the story: “It said the drill is unique in that it simulates the transition from the emergency phase of such an attack to the recovery phase.”
If The Inquirer's editors and staff writers weren’t so committed to avoiding the word terrorist the line would have read as follows: “It said the drill is unique in that it simulates the transition from the emergency phase of a terrorist attack to the recovery phase.”
But, clearly, the editors at The Inquirer have so carefully instilled in their staff to avoid the use of the word terrorist that the writers take pains to avoid using the word even when there is no way anyone’s political sensitivities can be offended.
Elsewhere The Inquirer article quotes a portion of the EPA news release about the drill. The EPA release does contain the term "terrorist attack."
The EPA statement reads: “The exercise, called Liberty RadEx, is the largest drill of its kind sponsored by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency to test the country’s capability to clean up and help communities recover from a dirty bomb terrorist attack.”
The entire EPA press release about the drill is here: http://yosemite.epa.gov/opa/admpress.nsf/0/28c5b280d311903a8525771100525103?OpenDocument
The Inquirer is not alone in the mainstream media for its unwillingness to use the word terrorist. Many newspapers use such words as militants, gunmen and extremists when they should be saying terrorists. New media outpaces daily newspapers in large part because of this type of duplicity and other biases. As the January 2010 Public Policy Polling report revealed 49% of Americans say they trust Fox News while 39% say they trust CNN. Fox News uses the word terrorist with much more frequency than CNN or The Inquirer. The same correlation came be made regarding coverage of Israel and its terrorist enemies.
Such consistent critics of Israeli policy as editorial cartoonist Tony Auth, correspondent Michael Matza and columnist Trudy Rubin were all employed at The Inquirer when Robert Hall was the publisher. The new owners have already announced that the new company’s chief operating officer will be Robert Hall.
Perhaps under new ownership and management accuracy and correcting media bias will become more of a focus at The Inquirer. Who knows perhaps even Hezbollah, Fatah and HAMAS will be properly labeled as the terrorist organizations that they are. If the new owners wanted to head in the right direction they are off to a very bad start by bringing back Robert Hall. After all, didn’t he man the helm during much of The Inquirer‘s long, slow decline in the first place?