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HARRY POTTER DIES

(AP)
Just kidding.

Or maybe not. I really have no idea. My best guess is he meets up with the kid from High School Musical and they go off to dance and fight dragons.

Anyway, here's a question: How will media outlets report on the last Potter book, "Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows," which comes out next week? As a colleague's wife (sort of) said: "If they tell me the ending before I've finished the book, I'll never watch them again."

But it's NEWS, people! NEWS! So how do you cover it? That decision is somewhat simplified by the fact that almost no one has read the book – media outlets couldn't spoil it even if they wanted to. "We're trying to find out as much as we can, but there's really only so much we can find out," says producer Erica Zolberg, who is doing a story on Pottermania for tomorrow night's "Evening News." (For the record, Zolberg says she wouldn't spoil the end even if she knew it.)

The angle of tomorrow's story, then, isn't going to be what's in the book, but how the publishers and their partners are keeping that information quiet. Zolberg spoke to Jim Dale, the voice of the Potter audiobooks and one of the few people who has gotten his hands on the book, as well as the webmasters of two of the big Harry Potter Web sites. Everyone, it turns out, is following the "no spoilers" policy to the letter.

And that's a good thing, says Patricia Shevlin, executive producer of the CBS Evening News Weekend Editions -- and a big Potter fan.

"People who really love the story don't want to know the end before they read it themselves," she says. Shevlin was recently in the newsroom when a correspondent started talking about who dies in the book according to an account that had been posted online. She cut the correspondent off before any names came out. "I just said, 'don't talk to me!,'" recalls Shevlin.

Even after the book comes out next Friday, Shevlin says she won't reveal anything. "I think you owe it to the children out there not to tell them," she says. "We're probably doing another piece next Saturday, and we'll show the lines, people buying it, Pottermania. But we're not going to tell the end. Most kids are going to need some time to get through the book. I would never give the ending away before they do."