The journalists interviewed tended to avoid using the word “terrorism” in their reporting. For most, the term is too politicized, although for some, it seemed imprecise. Vegas Tenold said that terrorism is more a legal definition than anything else, and Declan Walsh said that “terrorist” is a loaded, politicized word that alienates people. Drew Hinshaw sees “terrorists” as imprecise for Boko Haram, he said, because they were holding land and committing guerrilla warfare. Juan Forero described the FARC similarly. He said the group is more than terrorists because it is also a guerrilla army. Although the FARC has been categorized as a terrorist organization and still commits acts of terror, he said, it is also a political organization. Sulome Anderson said that she will say Hezbollah is “designated as a terrorist organization by the United States” but does not call them terrorists directly. She thinks of them as a militia and armed actor.

Others chose to follow the policy of the news organizations they work for or let people identify themselves. Tom Coghlan mentioned the policies of The Times, and Graeme Wood had a clear definition for ‘terrorist,’ but allowed members of the alt-right or neo-Nazis to identify themselves. Specific conflicts come with their own rhetorical issues, such as whether a reporter refers to a group as terrorists, rebels, guerrillas or insurgents. For the most part, these journalists are hyper-aware of the connotations of the term “terrorist” and are careful when choosing their words.