Warning: This post was published more than 10 years ago.
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It strikes me as interesting today that BBC News 24 is referring to Iran’s detention of 15 Royal Navy personnel as a “kidnapping”, which seems to me to be extremely loaded language.
Iran contests that the boats involved in the incident were in Iranian waters, while the UK and US state that they were within Iraqi territory, so it appears one word against another. If the Iranians are right (and it is very hard to tell in such disputed territory with complex divisions), then they are well within their legal rights to detain the Royal Navy personnel, so to describe them as “kidnapped” in this rather less-than-clear situation seems unfortunate at best.
Most other news organisations – including their own website – are using diplomatic terms like “seized” or “detained” which, in themselves, do not imply that either side is right. So why is BBC News 24 deliberately choosing to do differently? I hope, not least for the renowned journalistic standards of the Beeb, that this wasn’t a decision taken because “kidnapped” fits better on a headline graphic.
Some of their presentation decisions are already irritating and somewhat questionable, but if presentation is the reason for this decision, then standards really have reached a new – very depressing – low.