Reporters on the Job

RUSSIA'S HONOR SYSTEM: The Monitor's Scott Peterson has first-hand experience with the state of Russia's electric system. "Nobody at the Monitor's Moscow bureau can ever recall receiving a bill," says Scott. It's up to each consumer to read his own meter and go down to the local power company office and pay his bill. Given the few kopecks the Monitor pays quarterly, says Scott, he understands why the utility doesn't send out bills. "Post-Soviet Russia is still in the early stages of creating a culture of paying for services. Electricity is ridiculously cheap now," he says. But prices are starting to jump rapidly (page 1).

TOUR GUIDE NEEDED: While reporting on the South African township of Alexandra, Nicole Itano was warned by colleagues not to venture there alone. The high crime rate, and stories of theft and violence faced by other journalists, made her wary. "It's not like Soweto, where there are tour buses. Very few outsiders got to Alexandra to look around," she says. She took two trips to the township, but went with someone from the community, and "that changed the dynamic," she says. She found the residents, particularly older folks, quite open. "I'd advise anyone going there to have a guide. Not for fear of theft or violence, but to keep from getting lost," she says. "The township is a maze of dirt roads with no names."

FOLLOW-UP ON A MONITOR STORY..

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FREE WILLY - AT LAST? Keiko, the movie-star orca whale, may be permanently released into the wild this year after more than two decades in captivity, the Associated Press reports. As the Monitor reported on May 31, 2000, Keiko has been getting reacquainted with the wild off the coast of Iceland, a nation at the vanguard of efforts to legalize commercial whaling.

The project to rehabilitate Keiko - a five-year effort that included 32 months of training in Oregon - is the first attempt to return a long-captive whale to the wild. His care costs about $300,000 a month, all paid for with private donations. Keiko was captured off Iceland in 1979. He was believed to be about 2 years old at the time.

(c) Copyright 2001. The Christian Science Monitor

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