I note that the continuing trend of journalists confusing military
terms remains unabated – in this case the use of the word “crossfire”
(“MPs demand justice for two newsmen killed 30 years ago”, Press
Gazette, 24 June).
This unfortunate word now seems almost universally misused in the British media.
does not refer to two sides shooting at each other. That would be an
exchange of fire or perhaps a firefight, depending on the circumstance.
fact the word crossfire, of military origin, describes a very precise
event – the firing of guns by one of the combatant forces from two or
more points in such a way that the lines of fire cross, ideally at a
The idea is that even if an enemy seeks shelter from
one of the lines of fire, for example behind a wall, house or hill, he
will still be exposed from the side to the other intersecting – or
crossing – line of fire.
Lloyd Donaldson London