Harry Potter Was a Better Story

by Mike Antonucci, Mercury News Popular Culture Writer


            Er, what were these stories, displaced by Harry Potter, that would

have so elevated civic discourse and community life? What was this

information we so badly needed to know?


            What our editors think of our readers (who must include a few people

who don't feel dirty to earn their living from marketing ) is that Harry

Potter was a repeat front-page story because the public chose it to be. It

was all those folks out there who built that story into a phenomenon of

provocative financial, social and literary interest.


            What I don't think about those readers is that they were a

manipulated, advertising-driven herd that wiser editors needed to redirect.

That broad, unifying and inspirational passion for Harry is the antithesis

of demographically targeted, culturally Balkanizing marketing-think.


            What the Merc did is called riding a good story. Each day you check

to see if it has any legs left. There are always choices. That hour by hour

process is exhilarating, erratic and incredibly spontaneous and benign

compared to the calculation and cynicism implicit in that theorem about



            I'm all for serious news, as long as it's patently relevant, can

encompass what's joyful and separates the pretentious from the important. A

lot of readers I know see the front pages of newspapers only for as long as

it takes to throw them aside and pull out a section that means something to

their lives.


            Harry Potter wasn't a bigger story than others. It was a better

story than others.   


Grade the News invited Mr. Antonucci to respond to Mr. McManus' column and appreciates his willingness to spark debate. The views above are Mr. Antonucci's and not necessarily the Mercury's.