Reporters on the Job

BRITISH JOURNALIST KILLED: The death of freelance British journalist Richard Wilde in Baghdad on Saturday - shot point-blank with a pistol while in the midst of a crowd of Iraqis - was a tragedy that has shaken the large press corps. "It was also a wake-up call," says the Monitor's Scott Peterson, who has covered wars from Angola to Afghanistan, and is now in Baghdad. "There have been many near misses in Iraq, in which journalists were aimed at, shot at, or roughed up."

While most journalists here are seasoned observers of conflict , there are also many who don't understand Iraq as well as they should, Scott says.

It is not yet clear whether Mr. Wilde was targeted because he was a journalist, or perhaps because he had a military look - and had recently been speaking to some US soldiers - that might have led him to be mistaken for a military man.

If Wilde was killed because he was a journalist, Scott says, it won't be the first time. Killing the messenger became a pastime in mid-1990s Bosnia, where more than 30 journalists were killed. Journalists were killed in Afghanistan and during this Iraq war, too - at a far higher per capita rate than soldiers. In Somalia in 1993, more than 10 journalists died - including four that Scott knew well.

UNFRIENDLY STORE: The Monitor's Beijing correspondent has shopped at China's Friendship Store on many occasions - or at least he tried to. "The store is tough to navigate. The watches are in two or three different locations, and so are pants and suits," he says. The staff is notoriously unfriendly. Bob's Chinese interpreter went by to interview the huddled crowd of ex-employees "protesting" outside the store. "They were rude to her. We had a laugh over the fact that they are as impolite outside the store as inside."

Cultural snapshot

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