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Reporters on the Job

Too Detached? Correspondent Ben Lynfield approached the story about Israeli comedian Shlomo Vishinsky (this page) with a professional demeanor. He went to his stage show, and the next day sat down with Mr. Vishinsky for a two-hour interview in his apartment. "He was very gracious and generous with his time," says Ben. It wasn't until Ben got home, that he realized maybe he'd been too "professional," too detached. "I started to think about everything he'd been through in losing his son, and what an effort it must have been to accommodate all of the journalists and visitors. About 1,000 people a day came to his house during the mourning period," says Ben. "As a journalist, it's sometimes tough to judge how detached you need to be to get the facts for a fair story, and to what extent you allow yourself to be moved by what you're hearing."

So Ben called him back the next day. "I just wanted to communicate with him as a human being, not as a journalist. I told him how sorry I felt about his son. It didn't seem right to cover this man's grief without conveying to him my sense of feeling about it."

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Checkpoint Charlie: Reporter Charles Hawley first visited Checkpoint Charlie in 1987, when he was just 15 years old. The cold war - and the Wall - still divided Berlin. "Having grown up hearing about the Evil Empire in the East, I can still remember the fear with which I peered through the checkpoint to the East German soldiers on the other side.

"When I returned to Berlin to live last year, it was one of the first places I came to visit," says Charles. "I was surprised to see that it had turned into something of a mini Disneyland with souvenir booths lining the streets. I now walk by the site almost every day on my way to an internship at a German newspaper. Last week I noticed it had been covered. I knew Christo wasn't in town so I started asking questions (page 7).

David Clark Scott
World editor