Big discussions in newsrooms this week center on whether to label the Iraq conflict as a "civil war." Some media are using that phrase. Others are shying away from that term.
Among the biggies going with civil war are the Los Angeles Times and NBC News (along with its MSNBC). Others, such as the New York Times, CNN and Newsweek, sprinkle the phrase into stories, leaving it up to correspondents for the usage.
The White House objects to the civil war description.
Other phrases used to describe what's going on in Iraq are sectarian conflict, sectarian strife and "on the verge of civil war." Associated Press generally calls it "the war in Iraq" but sometimes works in sectarian fighting and sectarian violence.
The generally accepted definition of a civil war is one in which parties within the same culture, society or nationality fight for political power or control of an area. In such an insurgency, Grumpy Editor sides with some historians who classify a civil war as one in which organized armies fight conventional battles.