You never quite know whether to take these sort of stories at face value:
BBC tells its staff: don’t call Qatada extremist
The BBC has told its journalists not to call Abu Qatada, the al-Qaeda preacher, an “extremist”.In order to avoid making a “value judgment”, the corporation’s managers have ruled that he can only be described as “radical”.
...BBC journalists were told they should not describe Qatada as an extremist. The guidance was issued at the BBC newsroom’s 9.00am editorial meeting yesterday, chaired by a senior manager, Andrew Roy.According to notes of the meeting, seen by The Daily Telegraph, journalists were told: “Do not call him an extremist – we must call him a radical. Extremist implies a value judgment.”A BBC spokesman said: “We think very carefully about the language we use. We do not ban words – the notes are a reflection of a live editorial discussion about how to report the latest developments on this story.”
http://www.telegraph.co.uk/culture/tvandradio/bbc/9067754/BBC-tells-its-staff-dont-call-Qatada-extremist.htmlThat came from February last year.
So did BBC journalists obey Andrew Roy's guidance or, following the BBC spokesman's assurance that it wasn't a ban, did they exercise their own judgement on that? "Extremist" or "radical" then. Well BBC, was the Telegraph having its readers on?
A search of the BBC News website (from February 2012 onwards) using the terms "extremist Qatada" brings up a mere 8 results, of which seven quote others describing Qatada as an "extremist" rather than describing him in such a way themselves. Only one off-message, anonymous BBC reporter uses the oh-so-unbanned word in a single report.
A search of the BBC News website (from February 2012 onwards) using the terms "radical Qatada" brings up brings up 157 results. As you will see if you click on the link above, the term "radical cleric" is used without quotation marks. Mr. Roy's guidelines have been followed to the letter. The ban-that-isn't-a-ban-(but-is-really!) has been implemented.
Abu Qatada, described by a Spanish judge as "Osama bin Laden's right hand man in Europe" remains, of course, an extremist. Just not according to BBC guidelines.