Today's Story Line:

Congolese President Laurent Kabila has been a key player in a war that spans Africa's midsection. If he is dead, as numerous diplomatic sources say, the balance of power may tip in a war for precious resources that has sucked in six national armies and at least four rebel groups. (page 1).

David Clark Scott World editor

REPORTERS ON THE JOB

COVERING ESTRADA's TRIAL: The genesis of today's story about the Filipino polyglot came during Ilene Prusher's first day of covering the impeachment trial of President Joseph Estrada. She had been assured it was all in English so she arrived with no interpreter. "It started in English for 10 minutes, then would go into Tagalog for 20 minutes, then a half sentence of each. It was totally confusing," says Ilene. A kindly senator's aide got her through the first day. Later, she brought an interpreter. And during her most recent trip, covering the trial was like waving a flag to her sources that she was in town. "One of my contacts called me at the hotel. I asked her how she knew I was in Manila. She'd seen me at the trial, which is broadcast live. And the waiters at a local restaurant also gave her an effusive welcome: "Hey, we saw you on TV!"

FALSE SCOOP: Catherine Elton was interviewing the director of El Salvador's emergency efforts, when a police officer interrupted. "Sir, we need to know what to do about the volcano situation." The two excused themselves and left Catherine wondering. Later, the director told her they were trying to verify reports of an active volcano near Santa Ana. It was the end of the day, and Catherine's story about relief efforts was nearly done. "But I realized I'd better track this down. If a volcano erupts here after I go to bed, and I've sent in a story about relief camps - I'll be in big trouble." It turns out that landslides were kicking up dust that looked like smoke from a volcano.

Let us hear from you.

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(c) Copyright 2001. The Christian Science Publishing Society

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