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Reporters on the Job

BEIJING BEAT: Dancers performed at the closing ceremonies of the Olympics.

Luca Bruno

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Tea, Then Briefing: Today's story about British forces in Basra gave staff writer Tom Peter his first opportunity to work with the British military. Having worked extensively with US forces in Iraq, he was curious to gauge style differences.

"With the Americans, I'll get off a helicopter in the summer heat carrying close to 60 or 70 pounds of equipment," says Tom. "Often, as soon as I take off my body armor, American officers will go right into background briefings while I'm still soaked with sweat and wiped out from the flight."

But when the American convoy dropped Tom off at the British base, his hosts helped him carry his bags to his cot. "I was braced for the whirlwind arrival briefs, but instead the commander brewed up a pot of tea and chatted with me about world events. It was quite nice to at least let the sweat dry before getting down to business."

Keeping the Peace: Staffing decisions are normally the preserve of the editorial desk, but Peter Ford prevailed on his editors to send a colleague to Beijing to help him out during the Olympic Games, in case anything massive happened. Of course it didn't (other than Usain Bolt, who was the preserve of our sports writer), so in the event, neither Peter nor his colleague, Simon Montlake, was seriously overworked. "I was assigned to the Athens Olympics in 2004 because of my previous Middle East experience, since everyone was expecting a post 9/11 terrorist attack," Peter recalls. "That didn't happen either. I am telling my editors I should be sent to every Olympic Games, if only to protect them from disasters, since my presence appears to guarantee peaceful Games."

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