Navy destroyer in Sea of Japan: A sideways collision or more fake news?

Yesterday's news, aside from the usual Trump obstructing, colluding, and making money on his investments, included a ship collision.  As described by ABC, a "Navy destroyer collides with container ship off coast of Japan."  NBC had a similar headline: "Navy destroyer collides with ship off Japan."

Fox News worded their headline a little differently: "US Navy involved in collision."  As did CNN saying, "Navy destroyer collision off Japan."

It was a terrible accident, as U.S. sailors are missing and potentially injured or worse, but my point is regarding the choice of words describing what happened.

The dictionary definition of "collide" is "to hit something violently."  Something hits something else.  A verb.  Seems straightforward.  The word "collision" is a noun, an event that occurred.  Not clear is what hit what.

Two of the above-mentioned stories uses the word "collision," which is clearly what happened yesterday.  Two other stories used the word "collide," meaning one ship hit the other ship.  The headlines, by saying the U.S. Navy ship collided with the Japanese container ship, imply that the Navy ship hit the container ship.

What do the pictures say?  This first photo is of the U.S. Navy destroyer.

The second photo is of the Japanese cargo ship.  Both photos are courtesy of the Associated Press.

Seems the cargo ship had bow damage while the destroyer was smashed along its side.  Given that ships move in a forward direction, not sideways, isn't it fairly obvious which ship hit the other one?  In a car collision, if one car had front bumper damage and the other had side door damage, it would be clear which car hit the other.

Wording is important.  Sky News ran a headline, "USS Fitzgerald collides with cargo ship."  NPR says, "Navy destroyer collision with merchant vessel."  The verb versus the noun.  One assigning fault, the other not.

There will be plenty of time to assign cause and blame in this tragic accident, but how hard is it to accurately report what occurred without implying cause that is contradicted by the photos?

Maybe I'm being picky here, but given the proliferation of fake news, this caught my attention.  Words are important and carry implications.  Remember George Zimmerman as the "white Hispanic"?

It's Donald Trump's Navy now.  If the Navy does wrong, it must be Trump's fault.  For some media outlets, the reporting bias is that the blame must somehow flow to him.  Much like how CNN blames him for the Alexandria baseball field shooting this week.

Brian C Joondeph, M.D., MPS, a Denver-based physician and writer.  Follow him on Facebook,  LinkedIn, and Twitter.

Yesterday's news, aside from the usual Trump obstructing, colluding, and making money on his investments, included a ship collision.  As described by ABC, a "Navy destroyer collides with container ship off coast of Japan."  NBC had a similar headline: "Navy destroyer collides with ship off Japan."

Fox News worded their headline a little differently: "US Navy involved in collision."  As did CNN saying, "Navy destroyer collision off Japan."

It was a terrible accident, as U.S. sailors are missing and potentially injured or worse, but my point is regarding the choice of words describing what happened.

The dictionary definition of "collide" is "to hit something violently."  Something hits something else.  A verb.  Seems straightforward.  The word "collision" is a noun, an event that occurred.  Not clear is what hit what.

Two of the above-mentioned stories uses the word "collision," which is clearly what happened yesterday.  Two other stories used the word "collide," meaning one ship hit the other ship.  The headlines, by saying the U.S. Navy ship collided with the Japanese container ship, imply that the Navy ship hit the container ship.

What do the pictures say?  This first photo is of the U.S. Navy destroyer.

The second photo is of the Japanese cargo ship.  Both photos are courtesy of the Associated Press.

Seems the cargo ship had bow damage while the destroyer was smashed along its side.  Given that ships move in a forward direction, not sideways, isn't it fairly obvious which ship hit the other one?  In a car collision, if one car had front bumper damage and the other had side door damage, it would be clear which car hit the other.

Wording is important.  Sky News ran a headline, "USS Fitzgerald collides with cargo ship."  NPR says, "Navy destroyer collision with merchant vessel."  The verb versus the noun.  One assigning fault, the other not.

There will be plenty of time to assign cause and blame in this tragic accident, but how hard is it to accurately report what occurred without implying cause that is contradicted by the photos?

Maybe I'm being picky here, but given the proliferation of fake news, this caught my attention.  Words are important and carry implications.  Remember George Zimmerman as the "white Hispanic"?

It's Donald Trump's Navy now.  If the Navy does wrong, it must be Trump's fault.  For some media outlets, the reporting bias is that the blame must somehow flow to him.  Much like how CNN blames him for the Alexandria baseball field shooting this week.

Brian C Joondeph, M.D., MPS, a Denver-based physician and writer.  Follow him on Facebook,  LinkedIn, and Twitter.

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