Friday, December 12, 2008

Another good distinction lost

When you get these three grafs on the front of what was once a carefully edited paper (and remains a pretty large one):

When World War II bomber pilot Charlie Brown is laid to rest Saturday, his burial will close a chapter on one of the most remarkable war stories in modern history.

It's a tale of two pilots -- one American, the other German -- and of a bloody, deadly battle in the sky that led to an extraordinary friendship.

Brown, a fighter pilot, scientist, engineer and happy-hour connoisseur, died last month of heart complications.

... you have to wonder whether "bomber" and "fighter" still mean different things in American journalism. This is, after all, the week in which the AP credited Japanese fighters with sinking half a dozen battleships at Pearl Harbor, and I don't want to even thinking about going back to count references to John McCain (or George Bush the elder) as fighter pilots. From those examples, it's tempting to conclude that anything with one engine is understood to be a "fighter," but given today's Herald piece, I'm not so sure. Maybe we're drifting toward a state in which all combat aircraft are "fighters," with "bombers" just a subset of that. Surely the writer can't have actually looked at the picture (or sat around and listened to people talking) and gotten the idea that those were the same sort of aircraft.

This would have been a nice, easy catch for a copy editor, and a nice thing to paint on the turret as a reminder during the next round of buyouts. But I don't know if it's the sort of thing the Herald would even bother to correct. Should we start a pool?


Blogger The Ridger, FCD said...

Bad enough not to know the difference between fighters and bombers - I mean, to say someone's a fighter pilot when he isn't - but to use the words interchangeably, as though there is no difference? Argh.

9:21 PM, December 12, 2008  
Blogger fev said...

Yes, there are times my detached observational demeanor fails me and I simply want to hit somebody upside the head with a Jane's All The World's Aircraft. Which all good newsrooms used to have.

10:29 PM, December 12, 2008  
Blogger The Ridger, FCD said...

Ouch. Jane's would hurt - those things are huge.

8:57 AM, December 13, 2008  

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