Reporters on the Job

Afghan Humor : Staff writer Scott Baldauf visited the central Afghan city of Bamiyan to report today's story about the demands of the ethnic Hazaras (this page). He discovered that one of the parliamentary candidates for the September elections, Fatima Kazemian, had a delightful sense of humor.

"I mentioned to her that many Afghans thought my name sounded a lot like "Scud," the old Soviet missile used here in the late 1980s. "So for the rest of our interview, she insisted on calling me 'Uncle Rocket,' " says Scott.

Later, during a walk up the mountain to the village of Kharob-e Miyona, his translator told Mrs. Kazemian a joke about how American politicians came to Afghanistan and were amazed to see that Afghan men had abandoned traditions of walking ahead of their wives, and were now allowing their wives to walk in front. In the punch line, the Afghan men explain that they do this because of the presence of land mines.

Mrs. Kazemian laughed at the joke, and turned to Scott, expressing gratitude for the joke, before adding with a sly smile: "Why don't you go first?"

Into the Arab Blog World : Correspondent Charles Levinson decided to do a story on Arab bloggers (page 7) after covering several pro-democracy rallies in Egypt. "At the demos, people were talking about the blogs, so I spent two or three days, bouncing from link to link. I was surprised by the quantity and diversity in the Arab world."

Most are in English. "I think there are three reasons for this. First, English-language software is more prevalent than Arabic. Second, 'bridge blogging' is popular. That's when Egyptians or Saudis are putting events in their country into context for foreign readers. Third, the biggest Web audience is an English-speaking audience. If you want more readers, blog in English."

David Clark Scott
World editor

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