Reporters on the Job

Good Game - So Far: Correspondent Helen Womack compares the atmosphere in Kiev's central square, where thousands have gathered to protest the outcome of Ukraine's recent presidential election, to a soccer match. "The orange team, supporting challenger Viktor Yushchenko, is the home team, while the blue team of current Prime Minister Viktor Yanukovich is being represented by only a few supporters," Helen says.

Despite the high passions on both sides, Helen says most partisans remain cordial. "Saturday night, I saw a lone blue supporter at the train station. His associates had gone to bed, and his blue flag stood out in a sea of orange color," she says. "The orange people were very friendly: They wove an orange ribbon around his blue hat and called him their brother. The fellow just grinned. There was nothing nasty about it. On the other hand, given the disparity in numbers, the guy really had no choice but to agree with these people who were definitely trying to impose their views."

Shut-Eye? What's That? Getting enough sleep has been one of the trickiest parts of the Fallujah offensive, says the Monitor's Scott Peterson. The marines he is with go to bed shortly after sunset, and can be woken several times a night to stand one- or two-hour watches.

Then they wake up a 5:30 a.m. for "stand-to," in which they suit up in their armored vests and battle gear, to be ready for any predawn attack. Search operations and attacks often occur twice or more in any 24-hour period.

"That nonschedule plays havoc with deadlines," says Scott, who has found himself out on an attack when he should be filing, or hard at the computer when everyone is sleeping.

"I usually finish the Monitor story deadline by 8 p.m., say goodnight to the marines, and then begin editing hundreds of photos," says Scott, who has been awake until 2:30 or 3 a.m. - just in time for some operations to start."

Amelia Newcomb
Deputy World editor

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