Michael K Kuentz wrote ->
> Now, even though the BBC has a great almost non-subjective non-persuasive
> style down, they too have problems. Whenever a bomb goes off in the UK,
> 99 percent of the time it will be labeled as one from the IRA. With or
> without evidential proof, I've heard the BBC say it has to be an IRA
This account of BBC reporting practice is very much at odds with the
corporation's norms, and for my part I do not recall having heard an
unsubstantiated claim in anything like these terms. The consequences of
wrongly attributing terrorist attacks can cost human lives in the UK,
and no broadcaster is unaware of it.
Without having made a formal survey, I believe the following account is
closer to the usual practice of the BBC.
1. When an organisation has claimed to have planted a bomb, and the
claim has been verified by the callers using an agreed code word to
identify their organisation, the explosion is attributed to that
organisation, whether the IRA or any other group.
2. When the police or army are reasonably certain that a particular
organisation planted the bomb, and let journalists know this, their
opinion is sometimes cited, but always as the opinion of the
3. Sometimes the reporter will assess the circumstances relating to
and the nature of a bomb explosion, and may report that it "bears all
the hallmarks of" an IRA or a UDF action. Usually such a statement
includes the information that no formal claim of responsibility has yet