Loaded Language

Friday, July 25, 2014



For reporters covering the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, choosing the right words is a daunting task. So the International Press Institute set out to identify those hot-button words and phrases that the media throw around and create a glossary, called "Use With Care", that offers context and more neutral language. Brooke talks with Naomi Hunt, editor of the glossary and senior press freedom adviser at the IPI.


Naomi Hunt

Hosted by:

Brooke Gladstone

Comments [6]

Ray Wilson from Austin, Texas

Karen Greene's perspective on language is odd. The Holy Land is a geographic area that encompasses more than Israel and, of course, the interest in that area for non-Israelis is generally more in its perceived holiness than in the presence of Israel. Maybe the "unborn son, Charlie" happened somewhere, but it is not common on this planet. More important, Charlie's identity came from his Momma and not from anti-abortion conspirators. Finally, I was in a generation of "boys" sent off to war -- look at any pre-sixties movies to see the term used that way. About Ms. Greene's use of the phrase "We all" regarding the fight to not be called girls -- it kind of ignores all the women who still self identify as girls.

Aug. 15 2014 08:49 PM
Will Tomlinson

Good journalism isn't about avoiding offensive language -- it's about conveying the truth. When anyone tries to sound neutral by saying something like "Israel and Hamas continue to clash in Gaza," they are obscuring the truth -- that this is a massacre in which thousands of Gazan civilians are being killed. This much is undeniable. The Israeli side claims that it's all Hamas' fault because Hamas is hiding in civilian areas, but doesn't deny that civilians are dying. To report it any other way is dishonest.

Jul. 28 2014 02:30 PM
Peter from California

Your guest says that "the Separation Barrier was put up between Israel proper and the West Bank." Actually, most of it is *within* the West Bank -- separating some parts of the West Bank from other parts of the West Bank. The guest then goes on to say that "Separation Barrier" became the preferred term even though "nobody" was happy with it. Actually, "Separation Barrier" is the literal translation of the Israeli government's official name for it, "geder ha-hafrada" in Hebrew.

Jul. 28 2014 02:28 AM
Henry Norr from Berkeley, CA, USA

Coming from someone who has evidently spent a lot of time studying the situation, Ms. Hunt's assertion that the "separation barrier" runs "between Israel proper and the West Bank...." is quite astonishing. Does Ms. Hunt really not know that 85 percent of the West Bank wall is _within_ the West Bank itself, not along the Green Line, the internationally recognized border between Israel "proper" and the West Bank? If she doesn't, there are countless sources that could clue her in - UN documents (such as, for one recent example, http://www.ochaopt.org/documents/ocha_opt_barrier_factsheet_july_2013_english.pdf ), the reports of the Israeli human rights group Btselem (http://www.btselem.org/topic/separation_barrier ), or the 2004 advisory opinion of the International Court of Justice on the illegality of the wall (http://www.icj-cij.org/docket/files/131/1671.pdf ).

Or she could just look up from her newspapers and glance at any map of the wall, which would clearly show that nearly all of it separates parts of the West Bank from other parts of the West Bank.

I downloaded and checked her glossary and found the same mistake there (p.11). I'll send her a note and wait for her to correct it...

Jul. 28 2014 02:27 AM
OM from Los Angeles

Here is another one for you..."The conflict between the Israelis and the Palestinians"....while clearly the conflict-war in Gaza is "The conflict between the Israelis and Hamas"....

Jul. 28 2014 01:38 AM
Karen Greene from NYC--wnyc-fm

The yellow journalistic slanted use of language is not limited to the current Mid-East military situation. On all the major American networks-- Israel is referred to as the Holy Land, as in when the pope visits the Holy Land, or it is the holidays in Bethlehem in the Holy Land. Israel is only called by its name when the news story contains something negative, as in the number of Palestinians killed. I wonder who has made this editorial naming decision.

It follows the decision about how a pregnant woman should be referred to in a news story. It used to be, "Mrs. Smith, who was pregnant, was killed in a hit and run accident. Now it is Jane Smith and her unborn son Charlie, were killed in a hit and run. How did they come to be treated and perceived of separately. Is this the covert action of the anti-abortionists to give the fetus a separate identity?

We all fought long and hard not to be referred to as girls when we were adult women. Now every cop show refers to the rape victim as a girl, unless she is 90 perhaps. The girls are back!

Again-- who is making these decisions???

Jul. 27 2014 10:51 AM

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