Reporters on the Job

We know Hu: Staff writer Robert Marquand has been struck by how quickly fame has come to the author of a Chinese satire that's making the rounds on the Internet. While attending a literary festival in Hong Kong over the weekend, he had a hard time finding someone who wasn't familiar with the spoof, which the writer, Hu Ge, originally sent to his friends for fun. "I talked to about a dozen people, and everyone knew about it," Robert says.

China, he notes, is experiencing a phenomenon of ordinary celebrities. "For example, there's this young girl who has her own website that gets millions of hits," Robert says. "People coming out of nowhere are becoming famous. Hu Ge went from anonymity to having 600 million people knowing who he is."

As a result, the Internet, Robert says, is causing cracks in the official version of public culture. While political discourse is tightly controlled, people are making their way into other areas without any official approval. "It's the other side of the censorship story - lots of things are blooming," Robert says.

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So what else is new? Correspondent Beth Kampschror says there's a certain fatalism in Bosnia surrounding news events, so she wasn't entirely surprised by the response - or lack thereof - to the news of Slobodan Milosevic's death in a jail cell.

"People are pretty disappointed about the whole thing," says Beth. "I expected a sort of elation, but the sense I got was that people are annoyed that the trial wasn't finished. It leaves questions open about how responsible he was. At the same time, there's a legacy of the war that is present in everyday life - influencing what school you go to, the nature of politics. So to a certain extent, people find [his death] par for the course - it's another disappointment in a long line if disappointments."

Amelia Newcomb
Deputy world editor

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