Reporters on the Job

TASTE TESTER: While researching today's story about falling Russian vodka sales and rising nonalcoholic beer consumption (page 1), the Monitor's Scott Peterson took a tour of the Baltika beer factory. "Every beer in the Baltika line has a number. No. 3 is the most popular. No. 9 has the most alcohol," says Scott. "While waiting in the executive offices, they offered me a tall glass of their newest brew, No. 0 - the nonalcoholic beer. It was remarkably good," he says. During his last posting in the Middle East, Scott traveled in a number of Islamic nations where alcohol is forbidden. So, he says, he became something of an expert in the faux brews served in the restaurants of Kuwait, Saudi Arabia, and Iran. "Most taste like a bad soda, because nonalcoholic beer is often made by not fully fermenting the product or by boiling off the alcohol."

DEADLINE BLUES: Sometimes the most entertaining people journalists meet don't get into their news stories. Sometimes it's a lack of space, or the people want to remain anonymous, or their comments aren't the most relevant. "Today, I had a case where all three of those applied," says the Monitor's Ilene Prusher in Seoul, South Korea. She went into Starbucks and approached a coffee klatsch of ladies in their early 60s. She asked them about the North-South summit anniversary (page 1). "It turns out they were all friends from elementary school days, and meet every two weeks. They all sounded pretty suspicious of North Korea and shared a Korean proverb as a way to explain the feeling that they're in the dark about what's going on in North Korea," says Ilene. "It's dark below the lamp," meaning when you're too close to something, you're blinded by it. "I would have liked to stay and chat with them longer, but I didn't have time," says Ilene. "Still, I took the group 'chairman's' phone number - you never know. Like most journalists, I'm always collecting contacts."

- David Clark Scott

World Editor

CULTURAL SNAPSHOT

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Mail to: One Norway Street, Boston, MA 02115 via e-mail: world@csmonitor.com

(c) Copyright 2001. The Christian Science Monitor

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