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Reporters on the Job

• DEMOCRACY UNDERCOVER: When David Buchbinder started reporting on the pro-democracy movement run by an Afghan dentist (page 1), he discovered that finding the movement was no simple task.

"Since many of those involved had received death threats, the meetings were held at a secret location," David says. A taxi picked him up at his hotel and took him to a large building on a dirt road in a neighborhood in west Kabul. There were no cars on the street, but scores of shoes were parked outside each of the meeting rooms, which were packed with tribal elders.

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"The elders took a break for the evening prayers, and then after it got dark, they left in small groups," David says. "I wanted to linger outside on the sidewalk to chat, but they asked me to move along. They really didn't want to call attention to themselves."

• INTERVIEW ME TOO! Sometimes it's hard for reporters to get people to open up. But sometimes the reverse is true. For today's story about Zambia's anticorruption efforts (page 1), Nicole Itano stopped at a roadside cafe to ask people about it. "Everybody had an opinion and no one wanted me to leave until I'd talked to them. I tried to graciously thank them and walk away, but several times I was summoned back with 'But you haven't heard what I think yet.'"

"They were excited about the change, and understood that fighting corruption was not just about the immorality of politicians stealing their money. It meant that business would function properly and products would cost less."

CORRECTION

• NO GUN-TOTING MONGOLS: In the story "Guns offer fast profit for Afghans" (August 6, p. 7), Mongol invaders in Afghanistan did not use guns. Also, the Afghan government forbids only those citizens living in Kabul from bearing arms without a government-issued ID card.

David Clark Scott
World editor

Cultural snapshot