Well it depends on your viewpoint. As the old axiom goes “one mans freedom fighter is another’s terrorist”. Moreover, the same applies to all the organisations that have members, who individually would not be heard but as a group can at least have a say. You can tell a lot about the press and mass media just by the way that a group is described. Take the “League Against Cruel Sports” they have an uncomfortable relationship with the media. The media will often describe L.A.C.S as an animal rights group, which they are. This changes when the news reported involves animals but the human element has been acting illegally. Then the group become “activists”. The R.S.P.C.A. (Royal Society for the Protection of Animals) however does not suffer from this problem. It is always the soft, warm and welcoming animal welfare group. The one thing that the press and media will never do is describe any of these societies, organisations or groups, as is a “lobbyist”.
How different that is when the media, if it can be bothered, contacts the British Association for Shooting and Conservation, Countryside Alliance, British Shooting Sports Council or others. These groups are nearly always described lobbyists. For example, “Mr J Smith from the lobby group BASC (apologies to any Mr Smith who may work at BASC) is here to tell us …”
So why a lobbyist? Well it is all to do with perception. Any group or organisation that puts forward a view that is considered incorrect is called a lobbyist. Being a “lobbyist” portrays the groups as politically active. Whilst the likes of the R.S.P.C.A and I.A.N.S.A etc are fervently political in everything, they do. They are considered correct in the greater social scheme. Therefore, they are afforded softer, less aggressive titles.
When all is said and done, any group or organisation has to marshal its argument and put forward its case. How does it do this? By lobbying. However, not just by trying to force politicians to support their aims, but by engaging with the masses. The easiest way to do this is through the mass media, which, if they get behind a cause will portray it and its members as in the most positive light possible.
There is however an exception to this, a civil rights organisation that was set up 1871 which included within its charter an undertaking to protect the civil rights of its countrymen and women. To uphold the freedoms granted these compatriots by virtue of a constitution drawn up nearly 100 years earlier. This organisation is the oldest civil rights group in its country and has 4,000,000 plus members. What is this organisation? I hear you say, the National Rifle Association of America. The worlds press demonises the NRA as the lobby group of all lobby groups. It has, so far, successfully managed to help promote its agenda and protect not only its member’s rights but also the rights of all American gun owners. It has spawned numerous other groups, which specialise in specific areas of shooting and gun rights. The Association remains the nation's leader in firearm education and training for law-abiding gun owners, law enforcement and the military.
Therefore, in answer to the question “What is in a name” I think the answer is nothing. Lobbyist, petitioner, supplicant, activist, campaigner, the list goes on they are just words. It is beholden upon you as an individual to decide by a group’s action what that group is and what it stands for. Nevertheless, remember these emotive words are powerful and in the hands of the mass media, can destroy your way of life if they perceive it as not correct.