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Reporters on the Job

MARCHING IN STYLE: Reporter Philip Smucker was impressed with the order he found in a massive peace demonstration in Damascus, Syria, this past weekend (page 1). "There were 150,000 to 200,000 residents of the city marching. Everyone jumped in line with others from their own profession. So you would see a pack of lawyers clad in sharp black suits or a group from a women's sewing factory. In another area, you would see the seventh-grade class from a suburban middle school. All of them were anxious to talk with an American reporter, and had good things to say about Americans, if not their leadership," says Phil.

Such a march is unlikely to have happened in Cairo, where he is based, says Phil. "Hosni Mubarak's government, nervous that events might get out of hand, sends out a very large police force at every demonstration. It is very intimidating."

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THAT'S A FACT - MAYBE: Separating fact from fiction is a basic part of good reporting, but reporter David Buchbinder found that skill to be especially important while reporting on Venezuela's oil crisis (page 7). Even the arid realm of production statistics was inflamed by political rhetoric.

"You have economists who sympathize with the government, and you've got others who don't, and they'll give you vastly different numbers, based on their point of view. I've never been in a country where the people are so fiercely divided," says David, who has reported on wars in Afghanistan and Mozambique. "Here, people don't talk about politics - they shout."

Amelia Newcomb
Deputy World editor

Correction

In the story, "Turkey seeks assurances from US," (page 6, Feb. 18), a headline indicated Turkey was seeking $30 billion - the amount it says it lost in the first Gulf War - from the US to cover damages from any war with Iraq. Turkey has not put an official price tag on what it would consider an acceptable aid package.

Cultural snapshot

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