Tuesday, May 09, 2006

‘Making’ news. In the literal sense.

No news is good news? Not anymore, folks. These days, on a slow- or no-news day, they try to ‘manufacture’ news. And, they sink to ludicrous depths too doing it as I noticed last monsoon. It was midweek and raining quite heavily. At a certain traffic junction I pass quite frequently, the business in the pirated version of the latest Harry Potter was as brisk as ever. Then, in the evening, I read in an eveninger splashed on the front page a ‘scoop’ about this everyday happening treated like a ‘sting op’. Headlined predictably “’Dirty’ Harry”, it revealed the price charged was Rs.600/-, Rs.295/- lower than the official rate. The week before, I’d noticed The Strand Book Stall quoting Rs.674/- for the real thing. The sting operator’s office is within easy walking distance of the famous bookshop where the present President of the Indian Republic used to shop regularly once upon a time. http://www.strandbookstall.com/store/. All of which made me pause and think. Who got the most out of the sting op? The new learning, if any, for the hapless reader seems far outweighed by the free publicity for the pirates. Rowling seems to be the definite loser in the bargain. Dirty Harry, indeed! Learn what ‘sting op’ means: ’http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sting_operation. (Did you realize that an ‘agent provocateur’ – and in computing, a ‘honey pot’ – are akin to a sting op?)

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