Reporters on the Job

• JUST ASK MOM: For foreign journalists, China's basketball star Yao Ming has been a hard man to interview – as the Monitor's Robert Marquand discovered first-hand (page 1). Bob tried a variety of approaches; including using a Xinhua (official state news agency) reporter as an intermediary, attending Game 2 of the China Basketball Association playoffs; leaving messages with the foreign affairs office of Yao's team, the Sharks, and chatting with Yao's parents. It was finally Yao's mom who seemed to give the go-ahead.

But the interview, the first Yao has ever given in his dorm room, was short-lived. "A team official saw me walk into Yao's room, and it took him about five minutes to arrange for my departure," says Bob. In the meantime, Bob found out that Yao worships former NBA star "Sir Charles" Barkley, that he likes chicken, and that he doesn't care which NBA team drafts him. On his way out, Bob noticed a laundry room across the hall from Yao's room. "Yao told me that's where many Sharks players do their own wash. I thought: You won't see that in the NBA."

• EVERYBODY'S HOME: The Monitor's Danna Harman hasn't reported in the Middle East for a couple of years. Besides the obvious differences, she is struck by how available Palestinian and Israeli sources were to do interviews for today's story (this page). "It used to be hard to reach people. Now, you can reach everyone by phone," she says. She attributes the change to two factors. "There's a battle of perceptions in the media, and everyone wants to get their view point out there." But an even bigger factor is that folks are stuck at home. "The Israeli occupation has forced the Palestinian leaders to stay at home. They're all sitting in their living rooms, bored. And because of the suicide bombers, the Israeli politicians aren't going out," she says.

David Clark Scott
World editor

Cultural snapshot

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