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L.A. Times Bans 'Resistance Fighters' Term

by Dan Whitcomb, Reuters Saturday, Nov. 08, 2003 at 5:21 PM

Repost from the Reuters wire:

L.A. Times Bans 'Res...
reporter.jpgiowt6b.jpg, image/jpeg, 340x450

LOS ANGELES - The Los Angeles Times has ordered its reporters to stop describing anti-American forces in Iraq as "resistance fighters," saying the term romanticizes them and evokes World War II-era heroism.

The ban was issued by Melissa McCoy, a Times assistant managing editor, who told the staff in an e-mail circulated on Monday night that the phrase conveyed unintended meaning and asked them to instead use the terms "insurgents" or "guerrillas."

McCoy on Wednesday said that the memo followed a discussion among top editors at the paper and was not sparked by reader complaints. The memo first surfaced on the Web site L.A. Observed (

"(Times Managing Editor) Dean Baquet and I both individually had the same reaction when we saw the term used in the newspaper," McCoy said. "Both of us felt the phrase evoked a certain feeling, that there was a certain romanticism or heroism to the resistance."

McCoy said she considered "resistance fighters" an accurate description of Iraqis battling American troops, but it also evoked World War II -- specifically the French Resistance or Jews who fought against Nazis in the Warsaw ghetto.

"Really, it was something that just stopped us when we saw it, and it was really about the way most Americans have come to view the words," McCoy said. McCoy said she was confident that the Times reporters who used the term had no intention of romanticizing the Iraqis who have killed more than 100 U.S. soldiers since Washington declared major combat over in May, and that the paper's Baghdad bureau had no objection to the policy change.

The policy change reflects the highly politicized atmosphere surrounding the war in Iraq, which has brought charges of biased reporting from all sides of the political spectrum.

But David Hoffman, foreign editor of the Washington Post, said his paper had used the phrase "resistance fighters" to describe Iraqi forces and had no objection to the term.

"They are resisting an American occupation so it's not inaccurate," Hoffman said. "We try to be as precise as possible and distinguish whether they are former Baath party, Fedayeen, outsiders, insiders. But that's not always possible."

On Tuesday, the day after McCoy issued her memo, the paper used it in an editorial, which criticized the Bush administration for a lack of humility and candor over Iraq.

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Listed below are the 10 latest comments of 20 posted about this article.
These comments are anonymously submitted by the website visitors.
change of terms Meyer London Saturday, Nov. 08, 2003 at 6:52 PM
Fuck you Meyer mymicz Saturday, Nov. 08, 2003 at 8:15 PM
ML sure is making a lot of enemies. rex anon w/ inscription Saturday, Nov. 08, 2003 at 8:23 PM
point of fact antxon Saturday, Nov. 08, 2003 at 8:34 PM
wow hummer Saturday, Nov. 08, 2003 at 8:35 PM
mymicz: Go Away 000 Saturday, Nov. 08, 2003 at 8:41 PM
wow Meyer London Saturday, Nov. 08, 2003 at 8:51 PM
Like Meyer London doesn't have MPD Palindrome Saturday, Nov. 08, 2003 at 8:56 PM
wow hums Saturday, Nov. 08, 2003 at 9:04 PM
OCD for you three X anon Saturday, Nov. 08, 2003 at 9:07 PM
Getting the Message Ffutal Saturday, Nov. 08, 2003 at 10:03 PM
The LA Times is oh so lame Adult Supervisor Saturday, Nov. 08, 2003 at 10:30 PM
BOSS HATER green fox Saturday, Nov. 08, 2003 at 11:01 PM
Redress? Dictionary Man Saturday, Nov. 08, 2003 at 11:07 PM
maybe they'll go all the way and use a non-English term johnk Saturday, Nov. 08, 2003 at 11:57 PM
Of course they are "Resistance fighters" fresca_jdsh87 Sunday, Nov. 09, 2003 at 2:29 AM
000 Wrecks alot w/ prescription Sunday, Nov. 09, 2003 at 3:59 AM
Amazing fresca_ 2131 Sunday, Nov. 09, 2003 at 11:37 PM
You guys, shucks. mymicz Tuesday, Nov. 11, 2003 at 5:51 PM
mymicz nonanarchist1856 Wednesday, Nov. 12, 2003 at 12:07 AM

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