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Reporters on the Job

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ON STAGE IN UGANDA: Journalists most often are observers who interview individuals. Reporter Danna Harman arrived at a Ugandan village, after a five-hour drive, expecting to be a quiet observer of a cow project. Not this time.

"I was treated as an honored guest. I was met by 15 members of the parents' committee in their Sunday church clothes. First, we had soda. Then, biscuits. We introduced ourselves, and then I met the children of the parents, and then I spoke about who I was. It took quite a while, because the translation was slow. Finally, they all turned to me as if I were supposed to run a meeting - and I hadn't even seen the project yet," says Danna.

She was quickly escorted to a stage to conduct her interview. The village was gathered together to answer her questions. "Each interviewee would stand to answer my question, and the others would nod or clap in approval of the answer," she says. "It was one of the most unusual interviews I've ever done."

INTERNET WINDOWS: The Monitor's Beijing-based Robert Marquand has been visiting an all-night Internet cafe to check his e-mail and file stories while in Taiwan. He was struck by many cultural differences between China and Taiwan, but the cafe presented a unique window. "At the Internet cafes in Beijing, the clients go into chat rooms and get into highly discursive conversations, with long paragraphs of text. In Taipei, 9 out of 10 patrons are playing video games. It's like going to an arcade at the mall."

PATRIOT GAMES? Fred Weir has lived in Russia long enough to remember the blanket pro-Soviet propaganda. And he has his doubts about the revival of such efforts (this page). "At dinner parties, when the television was on, you could hear people groaning when they heard the patriotic slogans. Most Russians have been through this before, and I suspect this will irritate them more than inspire them," says Fred.

(c) Copyright 2001. The Christian Science Monitor

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