Mail Today carried the story on the masthead, but here are the contents of a mail - no, not libellous!
Penpricks, a blog run by an anonymous journalist, supposedly from Goa has taken major newspapers in the country for a ride. Though the blog penpricks.blogspot.com has been promising to break the story soon, a Reuters blog has snatched its scoop!
Click on the links to see how major newspapers like The Times of India, Indian Express, Deccan Herald and The Telegraph fell for the hoax.
Obviously, the new sub-editors are the television generation born in the mid to late-1980s so you cannot expect them to have heard of the composer Johann Bach. Actually, one sub-editor at a news organization I worked for in the past had not heard of Dawood Ibrahim!
Erm, there could have been calls made to either the German or Israeli Embassies (some reporters did). Secondly, the Times story does express doubts (the reporter did fairly good homework, to 'claim they fell for it' is silly), and while this claims 'to expose' the soft underbelly of poor fact-checking in some newspapers, and this in an age of Google! A person who killed 12,000 people during the Holocaust would be rather well known and a search of the supposed 'concentration camp' would have helped as would a search of the 'Agency' involved.
Doesn't help when you realise that the English language media is almost as clueless as the Hindi Tv channels. My maid who fills me in with details every evening tells me incredulous stories - 'Asmaan Mein Pari' (A girl skydives and that is a story!) 'Chamatkaar' (the Sadhu to can sleep while floating - whats the big deal). I mean, what would the Hindi channels do now that the folks at 18-land want to make a no-holds barred desi version of Fear Factor on Colors! You know, incredible stunts and insect eating - and what would happen to the barely literate people who run such channels if they ever accidentally saw AXN's crazier shows!
But, I also want to know which was the 'agency' which filed the story first?