Reporters on the job

The Right Image: In a commercial age, public figures can often expect to be the subject of kitschy memorabilia - just think pope-on-a-rope soap or President Bush as an aviator doll. But cross the line between good fun and bad taste, and you can spur leaders to call their lawyers. That's what's happened in the case of Nelson Mandela, the former South African leader (page 1).

Correspondent Nicole Itano says many uses of his image have his endorsement, such as in the Johannesburg suburb that erected a statue of Mandela and named a square after him. And postcards or calendars are OK.

"He's not going after artists trying to make a social statement," Nicole says. "I think he's worried about things that might cast him in a bad light, or are sold for personal profit instead of for the benefit of a cause he cares about."

There's News in that Cancelled Meeting: Parliamentary debate over a draft amendment to Egypt's Constitution to allow for competitive presidential elections was expected to last for a few days this week (this page). But staff writer Dan Murphy had an inkling things might wrap up faster when an aide to a senior member of President Hosni Mubarak's party called to cancel a noon meeting about 15 minutes before it was to start. "When I spoke to the guy's boss yesterday, he said 'anytime tomorrow, my day's wide open.' "

Dan's journalistic antennae went up and he kept a sharp eye on the televised debate. "It worked out OK. I ended up eating lunch with visiting academic researchers," he says.

Amelia Newcomb
Deputy world editor

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