Times T logo
New York, July 16 - New York Times Executive Editor Dean Baquet expressed surprise today upon discovering the word "terrorist" in the dictionary, to the point that he repeatedly showed the entry to every other person in the newsroom he could find.
Baquet was looking for a precise definition of the pottery term terra cotta, and in turning the pages of the book his eye fell upon the curious new word. "A person who uses violent acts to frighten the people in an area as a way of trying to achieve a political goal," he recited aloud, and repeated, with a disbelieving look on his face.
Colleagues relate that Baquet first consulted several online sources, each time with increasing disbelief that the word had escaped his knowledge until now. His confusion was compounded upon further discovering that the term is not, as he had initially suspected, an obscure or obsolete word, and he immediately began consulting other personnel over whether they had ever encountered the term.
"He had this excited look on his face," recalled Deputy Managing Editor Lawrence Ingrassia. "He showed me his paperback dictionary and this strange new word, and I was just as shocked. Here was this term that perfectly and cogently describes half of the people involved in the Middle East stories we report, and we've been using bland, namby-pamby 'militant' instead. Frankly, I'm kind of embarrassed this perfectly suited word was available and current the whole time, and it never occurred to us to use it."
From Ingrassia, Baquet continued to Andrew Rosenthal, the Editorial Page Editor. The latter admitted some awareness of the term, but only as vaguely associated with the Bolsheviks, and occasionally bandied about on the internet. "I seriously had no idea there were still such people," he confessed. "I mean, fighters, yes, and even freedom fighters, but people who employ violence, especially against civilian targets, to sow fear and thus bring about political change - I mean, who does that anymore?"
Baquet has already had a prolonged conversation with crossword puzzle editor Will Shortz about perhaps including the term in a puzzle, and that is likely to be the only section of the paper that features it.