Reporters on the Job

• LINGUISTIC PREJUDICE: Reporter Arie Farnam understands personally the challenges of Europe's multilingualism (page 8). She's an American who speaks German, Czech, and Russian. "But Russian sounds are so strong, I speak German and Czech with a Russian – not American – accent." And that can cause problems when you live in Prague, a city once under Soviet rule. "I'm often mistaken for a Russian or Ukrainian," says Arie. "This week, I was calling around trying to find a part for my bicycle. At one shop, the guy turned to ask to his boss. 'This lady doesn't speak Czech very well – she sounds like a Russian. What should I say?' Then I heard the boss growl, 'Tell her we can't help.' " She did find the bicycle part. "I found someone more tolerant of my accent."

• EMERGENCY ROOM WISDOM: Reporter Ben Lynfield says that visiting hospital emergency rooms is one of the worst, and most emotionally difficult aspects of reporting on the Palestinian-Israeli conflict (page 1). He's visited hospitals on both sides. "Asking survivors questions after they've been through hell is a necessary evil at best," he says. "I went to Jerusalem's Bikur Holim Hospital Wednesday hoping the visit would be short, and not remain with me long after I left."

On this occasion, Ben got more than anger and an eyewitness account. David Cosak, who is studying at the Hebrew University for a rabbinical degree at the University of Judaism in California, was lightly wounded.

"He told me the bombing and other Middle East violence is caused by 'an absence of God. If you take the idea of man being created in God's image seriously, then you have to search for a nonviolent path to meeting your goals,' he said. 'Anything else is a warped notion of God or a reactionary notion of God.' "

David Clark Scott
World editor

Cultural snapshot

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