Depends on who you speak to. There are various types of hacking that should be referred to with the correct terms, but the media misuse terms because they don't understand them and this muddies the water.

I prefer the definition at http://catb.org/jargon/html/H/hacker.html
A hacker is an expert, a geek, a good guy, can be a good engineer (but good engineering often means following documented protocols and a hacker often doesn't have the time or inclination for pointless protocols that are usually invented by managers who have no engineering skills to maintain the illusion that they do something useful).
A cracker is what the media means when they use the word hacker. Script kiddies are a subset of crackers - while crackers may have some skills, script kiddies just run scripts that other people have worked out, so script kiddies have no skills, hence the name.
Cracker is also a racist term used to refer to white people by black people and the level of offence intended by the word cracker is the same as the offence usually taken when someone uses the word nigger. This could be why the media doesn't use it.

There are other terms which clarify the use of the word. White hat hackers are good guys; black hat hackers are not and the parallel with white and black magic is I think intentional. Ethical hacking is quite clear to anyone who understands the word "ethical" but many people who post to go4e's EH forum are not asking about ethical hacking but about inethical cracking (i want my g/f's hotmail password, for example).

There is also a job title Ethical Hacker which means someone who is employed to break into systems with full permission to do so - which sounds like a contradiction but normally you would be given passwords to access a system; an ethical hacker is permitted to access a password protected system but not given the password. Ethical Hackers are used to test security systems legally and document their methods for gaining entry so that the security systems can be improved.

Going by ESR's definitions a hacker is ethical by definition so the word ethical is redundant, and personally I think all threads in the EH forum about getting passwords, stealing from Microsoft and so on should be shut down as nothing to do with EH. Leaving these threads open sends the message that go4e approves of such things.