Why Al Jazeera America Won’t Say ‘Islamist’ on Air

By Brian Flood 

Al Jazeera English executive Carlos van Meek sent an email to employees reminding them not to  use the terms “Terrorist,” “Militant” and “Islamist” in news stories. NewsBusters reports the email was sent just yesterday.

And TVNewser has learned that Al Jazeera America also follows the same guidelines that emanate from the Qatar-based news organization. The network even distributed a series of videos to employees last fall — some of which are on YouTube — outlining the Al Jazeera Style Guide. The video on the use of the word “Islamist” can be seen below.

In what AJAM calls “strict editorial guidelines,” the video details why the word “Islamist” should not be used on air. “We will continue to describe groups and individuals, by talking about their previous actions and current aims to give viewers the context they require, rather than use a simplistic label.”

“To someone, ‘Islamist’ might be a pejorative word or a word that you wouldn’t apply to someone, although to other people it’s completely innocuous. We tend to avoid them for those reasons,” Nick Toksvig, Executive Producer of News says.

News editor Simon Torkington adds, “Still, I listen to broadcasters from around the world and they’re still using the word ‘Islamist’ as a substitute for the word terrorist really. And the two of them have become synonymous in some news organizations. And I felt it was really important for Al Jazeera, based in this part of the world, to make that distinction.”