Sunday, March 19, 2006

Headline fun with "pirates"

Gotta love the headline wars.

For example, let's take the report of yesterday's set to off Somalia.

The Chicago Tribune headline reads Sea clash; suspected pirate dies. Story says:
Two U.S. Navy warships exchanged gunfire with suspected pirates Saturday off the coast of Somalia; one suspect was killed and five were wounded, the Navy said.

Seven others were detained after the morning shootout, according to a 5th Fleet spokesman. No sailors were wounded. The clash occurred about 25 nautical miles off the Somali coast in international waters.

The Virginian Pilot (Norfolk, VA) headline: "Pirates attack 2 Navy warships from Norfolk in the Indian Ocean". Story starts:
A dozen suspected pirates on a small fishing boat became prisoners Saturday after they opened fire on two Norfolk-based Navy warships in the Indian Ocean.

Five of those captured off the coast of Somalia were wounded and a 13th man was killed, the Navy said.

No one on the Gonzalez, a guided missile destroyer, or the Cape St. George, a guided missile cruiser, was hurt.

Only in its final paragraph does the Tribune mention that that the "gunfire" was initiated by the "suspects."

UPDATE: The fun continues with The Washington Post:
Navy Warships Fire on Suspected Pirates Off Somalia, Killing One
With this opening paragraph:
Two U.S. warships opened fire on suspected pirates in a small boat in the Indian Ocean off the coast of Somalia yesterday when the pirates brandished shoulder-fired rocket launchers at the ships as they approached, the Navy said.
Only in the next to last paragraph does the WaPo say:
The warships were maneuvering to come alongside the suspect boat in preparation for boarding and search when the pirates opened fire with automatic rifles and a rocket-propelled grenade launcher, Breslau said. Sailors manning machine guns on board the warships returned fire, he added.
The WaPo article is repeated in the San Jose Mercury News but the headline modified to read
U.S. warships fire at boat of suspected Somalia pirates
Why not "Dumb pirates take on US Navy"?

UPDATE: (3/20/2006) Update here. Commanding Officer of Navy cruiser says pirates fired first.

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