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REPORTERS ON THE JOB

SALARY TALKS: Getting anyone to discuss how much money they make can be difficult. Gretchen Peters was running into the normal reluctance as she reported today's story about the Mexican economy (page 1). So she built a bridge of empathy, and her interviewees walked across. "I told them how my own freelance income was dependent on the newspaper industry, which is in a slump. Editors are cutting back, and my earnings have fallen 30 to 40 percent this year. I understand what you're up against." It worked.

No SCOOTER FOR SCOTT: Today's story about the transition from scooters to motorcycles in India (page 7) brought back memories for the Monitor's Scott Baldauf. He used to ride a Yamaha motorcycle back in his native Texas. "We needed to be a two-car family, but couldn't afford two cars," he says. The experiment ended after he was nearly run off the road. Would he get a bike in India? "No way on earth. You see the driving habits here, and you say no, no, no." Scooters? Scott would ride one but not drive it, "unless it were 3 a.m. and traffic was a lot less."

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He adds diplomatically, "I have infinite admiration for the intuitive driving skills of people in India, who cut in and out of traffic without a glance left or right."

T-SHIRT READINGS: Journalists are trained to look for telling details, and sometimes they don't have to look far. While reporting today's piece about the Israeli army occupation of the largely Christian community of Beit Jala, reporter Ben Lynfield was struck by a T-shirt worn by a teenager he was interviewing. "There was a cross with a vague outline of the figure of Jesus. It read: 'Killed in the line of duty.' It seemed a provocative wardrobe choice, given all that's going on in his neighborhood."

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