India Uncut

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Friday, May 12, 2006

To write an article

A few minutes ago I got a strange call.

Hesitant female voice: Hello, is that Amit Varma?

Me: I think so. Hell, I hope so.

HFV: Sorry?

Me: This is he. And indeed, me. Yes?

HFV: Sir, XXX [an old acquainance] recommended I call you. We are a PR firm, and are working for Ten Sports. As you know, they hold rights to India's cricket series in West Indies. They would like publicity, some articles written on it. Would you write an article for us?

Me: For who?

HFV: Sir, we are willing to pay for it.

Me: Yes, but for whom do you want an article?

HFV: Anybody, sir. We just want the topic to be the India-West Indies series.

Me: Er, hang on a minute. I work for a cricket-publishing company, and we'll write about the damn series anyway.

HFV: Yes sir, but you write for others also, no?

Me: Sometimes, but not on cricket.

HFV: Can you recommend someone else who can write then? We will pay.

Me: Er, look, as the matches come closer, every newspaper here will write about them anyway. So what you're trying to achieve will, um, be achieved anyway.

HFV: Yes sir, but we want articles anyway. Will you write?

[Here I pause, and realise that these chaps seem to be trying to bribe me to write about their clients. I decide to try and get to the bottom of this.]

Me: Ok, tell me, supposing I was to agree to write about this, would you pay me?

HFV: (Suddenly wary, as if realising I've switched a recorder on) Would you want payment?

Me: If I did...

HFV: Well, we'd get back to our clients with your quote.

Me: But you called me because you wanted articles written on this and were willing to pay for it.

HFV: Yes sir, how much do you want?

[I give up investigating here.]

Me: Look, anyway, you've got the wrong person. I don't take money for articles in this manner. Please try somewhere else. [I hang up.]

All of that was most curious. Journalists taking money from the subjects of their pieces is not uncommon, of course, and the Times of India sells editorial content on a corporate level. But this is the first time anyone has approached me. I don't know if I should feel flattered.

On another note, the representative of an online company offered me a decent monthly amount to runs ads for an online initiative they're promoting. I already run Google Adsense, and earn a negligible amount from it (one good dinner a month), so I'm quite open to running ads. However, these chaps are already running ads on a number of Indian blogs, and offered two friends of mine differing amounts to write about them. Fishy smell comes.
amit varma, 3:16 PM| write to me | permalink | homepage

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