Reporters on the Job

GENDER BIAS IN JOURNALISM: On some assignments, reporter Nicole Itano finds that her gender is a disadvantage. Not so in the case of today's story about factories springing up in Lesotho (page 7).

"Ninety-five percent of the workers are women. And most of those waiting outside the factory each morning - in hopes of getting a job - were women," Nicole says. "Several were prostitutes. The drought has forced them to look for work in the cities, and they were supporting extended families back in the villages. I'm sure that they wouldn't have spoken so freely if I'd been a man."

GETTING THE BRUSH OFF: Reporter Gretel Kovach had several sources in her story about the first women judges in Egypt (page 1). But she still pines for the one that got away. Gretel called Aisha Ratib, who applied for a judgeship in 1950. Ms. Ratib later became a cabinet minister and an ambassador. Today, she teaches at Cairo University. When Gretel first called, "She curtly agreed to an appointment for 12 p.m. the next day at her office. I had trouble with the security guards, but finally made it to her outer office. Her guard told me she was too busy to see me. I persisted, and she finally came out and told me that I should call the next day to arrange for another appointment." Gretel was discouraged, yet respectful. "She's tough as nails and that must be why she's been so successful."

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CLARIFICATION

NO INTERVIEW ON AL JAZEERA: A Dec. 26 article about Al Jazeera ("Top Arab TV network to hit US market") reported that Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld pulled out of an interview with the channel following a testy exchange with an Al Jazeera reporter during a press conference. The article should have included the Department of Defense's explanation for the canceled interview, which is that there was a scheduling conflict.

Cultural snapshot

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