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Reporters on the Job

KEPT AT BAY: Journalists crave access. Sometimes being a foreigner gives you an edge over the local media. Sometimes it doesn't, as reporter Arie Farnam discovered. "For more than a week, I watched three Macedonian television stations reporting from the wrecked village of Aracinovo, while foreign reporters were barred from the area," says Arie. "Once Aracinovo was safely classified as old news, foreign journalists were let in to see the devastation caused by three days of heavy shelling. I decided to go, even though it was not directly relevant to today's story (this page).

"Aracinovo stands out to me because it was the first village I ever visited outside the Macedonian capital, Skopje. Not long ago, it was a quiet place with idyllic white houses on green hills. But this time the village was eerily quiet. Most of the houses and both mosques had gaping holes in their sides and roofs, though the Eastern Orthodox church stood untouched. I eventually found an old man hiding out in his house. His family had fled but he remained to guard against looters, who he said came every night in the form of policemen and soldiers. He kept repeating that he could not understand why the government forces had shelled civilian homes, rather than the rebel positions around the edge of the village. Maybe that is why foreign reporters were not allowed in for so long."

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CHINESE FANATICS: The Monitor's Robert Marquand has been to many professional sporting events in the US, and if it rains, fan turnout drops. But not in China. Bob bought tickets outside the soccer stadium for today's story (page 7), and was told the seats were under a roof. They weren't. "We ended up under a sympathetic fan's umbrella. It was pouring, but people wore plastic bags, boxes, whatever they could find. The rain didn't chase anyone away- the stadium was packed," he says.

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(c) Copyright 2001. The Christian Science Monitor