What a blooper!

Posted: January 25, 2010 in Government of India, Media
Tags: ,

As bloopers go, I’ve seen a lot and done a lot in my newspaper job, but the DAVP advertisement featuring the Pakistan air chief’s picture, must rank among the very best! This is not like a repetition of stories on two pages or even on one page that usually happens during a shift in a newspaper. This was a boo-boo of epic proportions and it came from the Government!
If the advertisement blooper with the Pakistani air chief had been done by someone not from DAVP, the boss would have come down on him/her like a ton of bricks. A memo would have been issued, a show cause notice served and the poor sod would have been watching TV at home for a month without salary! But I bet nothing will ever come out of this. The PMO has issued an apology and the matter has been quietly buried.
Working late nights reading copy after copy on a computer can really drive you up the wall. I’ve seen people during a late night shift go ballistic over the most insignificant incident. An ambiguous headline or a copy that has a few errors have made seniors fling pages back at their juniors with a loud “what the f—k is this crap?” Very often, the tirade is not justified but then someone who’s been sitting, first in front of a computer screen cleaning up the mess, and then with a red pen still cleaning up another mess, just snaps.
In one organisation, the paginator and a senior copy editor came to blows, because the paginator suggested, what he thought was a better design, and the copy editor ignored it. Not one to give up so easily the paginator went ahead and made a dummy. The copy editor turned it down. They then had a chat, The chat soon turned into an argument and then into a full-blown spat, till finally the furious copy editor stood up and questioned his colleague’s parentage! All hell broke loose. I could not understand why the paginator kept arguing with the senior copy editor, because it was finally the prerogative of the latter on what kind of page he wanted to do. This was in the days when we didn’t have Adobe Pagemakers and Quark Xpress and pages were still made by the cut-and-paste method! Thank God for technology!
Bloopers are so common and you see them in the newspapers every day. Except for a memo, which really doesn’t mean anything, or a ticking off by the boss, nothing too serious happens. I remember a time when a story that came to us on the nation news pages from Delhi about the then Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee. There was obviously some kid with an itchy finger in a hurry to finish his job who must have edited the copy, because during a spell check, Instead of pressing on ‘ignore’ when it came to names, he/she pressed ‘change.
When I saw the report the next day, I broke into a sweat.
Atal Bihari Vajpayee had become Atlas Binary Vampire – and it was the top story on the page. I did hear that the culprit got away unscathed. That’s life!


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