Reporters on the job

REALITY-TV VIEWERS: Fred Weir's own family was a microcosm of the Russian reaction to the nation's first reality-TV show (page 7). "My mother-in-law was the most avid viewer, catching every episode of 'Behind the Glass' her schedule permitted. And she correctly predicted the winners. She often said 'Zhanna is a nice girl, quite intelligent. Some of the others are idiots.' My wife would often watch for a couple of minutes, then say something scornful about the whole show, sometimes prompting a good-humored argument," says Fred.

The only thing that all the adults in the Weir household agreed upon was that Fred's 13-year-old daughter, Tanya, should be sent to do her homework whenever the show turned raunchy. "Tanya says she found the show 'boring,' couldn't see what her grandmother liked about it, and would rather watch Russian MTV," he says. Fred also claimed not to have watched it, but had a remarkably detailed knowledge of the risqué scenes for a nonviewer. Probably just a function of his excellent interviewing skills.

LOOKING LIKE AN AFGHAN Being a Eurasian (i.e. of Swiss-Korean origin) can be useful when covering Central Asia, says reporter Lucian Kim. "When I was reporting in the region three years ago, in every 'stan' I visited, the locals insisted that I must be one of them. For the first time in my life, I was in a region where it was 'normal' to look half-Asian/half-European." And the same thing is happening again at the UN-sponsored talks in Bonn, Germany.

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"Sunday night when I was sitting with two of the Afghans in today's story (this page) in the hotel bar, another young Afghan appeared. As a joke, they told her - in Dari - that I was of Afghan background, but that my language skills were a bit rusty. The Afghan woman fell for it, but I had to interject in English that it just wasn't true."

- David Clark Scott

World editor

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