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Reporters on the Job

REPORTING IN THE DARK: It's summer in Baghdad. That means 130 degree F. days that get "downright oppressive," notes Monitor correspondent Ilene Prusher, even for royalty.

"When I went to meet Sherif Ali bin Hussein, the Iraqi prince who has been living in London for many years, I couldn't help but think that this weather must be a terrible shock. After all, he's been out touring the country wearing a business suit, while I usually traipse around in the lightest clothes I can find and a pair of sandals," she says.

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Even when there's air conditioning, the effect is relative. When it's 130 degrees F. outside, a room can be cooled to about 90 degrees at best. But air conditioning requires electricity. Journalists, royalty, and other "elites" get most of their power from local generators, but even those can be unreliable. "In the middle of our interview, the power kicked out and the room went pitch black. Within 30 seconds, the temperature in the room seemed to jump 30 degrees in the absence of air conditioning. Fortunately, the power came back quickly," says Ilene, noting that even Iraqi royalty must cope with power outages.

IN PURSUIT OF COLOR: The Monitor's Cameron Barr had already spoken to the pollsters, activists, and academics before he went to Bethlehem and Beit Jala to speak with middle-class Palestinians. He went to confirm the accuracy of the "experts" and flesh out the story with some "color."

"I met Samir, my interpreter, in Bethlehem and we went to the corporate offices of a stone factory and then talked with a couple of workers and a security guard." Their next stops: a restaurant and a textile factory. "After I spoke with Abdallah Hodali, we called it a day. He was so eloquent. He perfectly captured the sensibility of the Palestinian people."

David Clark Scott
World editor

Cultural snapshot

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