A bunch of heavily-armed white guys walk into a federal building, declare that they're in charge of the place and say they plan to stick around indefinitely. What do you call them, exactly?
It's a vexing question. Some on social media are opting for "terrorists," although that may a stretch -- after all, they haven't killed anyone, and they've said they'd prefer not to (though they haven't ruled it out completely).
In the interest of clarity, here's how 15 major media outlets are referring to the group as of Monday morning. To keep the tally manageable, I'm counting only the first reference to the Oregon group in either the headline or body of the main story on the standoff on the organizations' websites.
This is an obvious oversimplification -- many outlets refer to the group using different terminology in different stories, or even within the same story. But this does give a barometer of how the armed occupiers are being portrayed at the topline level in the national media.
Of the 15 outlets I surveyed, six are describing the group as either "armed activists" or "armed protesters." That includes The Washington Post, along with all three major cable networks and two network news outlets.
Scott Wilson, The Post’s national editor, said the paper is using the term “occupiers” and may use “militia members” when those involved identify themselves that way.
Six news sites are using some variation of "militia" on the first reference to the armed occupiers. NPR refers to "self-styled militia." Reuters uses a similar construction in "self-styled militiamen." Both USA Today and ABC News opt for "armed militia members." Vox goes for the straightforward "militia," as does Buzzfeed.
Anyhow, that's what the media think. Now it's your turn: What would you call the Oregon protesters?