By: Jason Cohen, Daily Caller News Foundation
Government-funded news outlet Voice of America (VOA) management has ordered its employees not to refer to Hamas as “terrorists” unless they are quoting statements, National Review reported.
VOA’s guidance originally distributed on Oct. 10 suggests that reporters and editors are allowed to refer to Hamas’ Oct. 7 assault on Israel as terrorist attacks or acts of terror but informed staff they should “avoid calling Hamas and its members terrorists, except in quotes,” according to emails National Review obtained. VOA’s associate editor responsible for news standards conveyed the publication’s guidelines regarding reporting on the initial attacks and the subsequent Israeli retaliation in an email to employees on Friday
The editor stressed the importance of VOA maintaining impartiality in its coverage and called on its reporters to “be especially careful with word choice in dealing with a conflict” in the email sent to an email list consisting of about 1,300 reporters and editors, National Review reported.
“This practice conforms with the VOA News Standards and Best Practices guide and current usage by the wires and major U.S. news organizations, bearing in mind that the language including terrorism is often used to demonize individuals and groups with whom the speaker disagrees,” the guidance referred to in the Friday email states, according to National Review. “Useful alternatives are militant group or militants or fighters. In this case, it would be the Hamas militant group or Hamas militants.”
The U.S. Agency for Global Media, an agency funded by Congress, owns VOA, according to the outlet’s website. The U.S. government is barred from any interference in VOA’s independent reporting.
VOA receives hundreds of millions of dollars from the U.S. Agency for Global Media each year, according to its budget.
“In adherence with our Charter, Voice of America must remain ‘accurate, objective and comprehensive’ in its reporting,” VOA Spokesperson Emily Webb told the Daily Caller News Foundation. “In communications with its staff since October 7, VOA journalists were reminded of VOA’s commitment to fairness, neutrality and balance. They were told not to favor one side over another or do anything that feeds even the perception of bias.”
“Its journalists have been advised that reports should note that the U.S. government labels Hamas a terrorist organization,” Webb added.