Reporters on the Job

INTERVIEWS AT DAWN: To take a measure of public feelings in China about the Olympics for today's story (page 1), the Monitor's Robert Marquand got up before the crack of dawn. He drove to Tiananmen Square to watch the daily flag-raising ceremony. "It's a very solemn event - not like the singing of the national anthem at Fenway Park, where you might here some hoots or applause," he says. Rather, Chinese soldiers march out from the Forbidden City, under the giant portrait of Mao, stop the traffic on a main boulevard, and march into the square.

"The flag is raised in complete silence," says Bob. The ceremony draws Chinese from around the country, so even at sunrise, the square is well populated. "It was busier than usual, perhaps due to national expectations about the Olympics bid," says Bob. But the square is also well scrutinized because this is where the Falun Gong have demonstrated. "There were plain-clothes policemen everywhere, watching and listening to every interview I did," says Bob

Many of the students and tourists he interviewed asked him to pose with them for a picture. Even the police wanted a photo, although for their own reasons. Bob was photographed by police when he returned to his car, which they suggested wasn't parked in the appropriate place.

AHEAD OF THE CURVE: Reporter Ben Lynfield first started thinking seriously about today's story (this page) more than a month ago. "At the time, I was talking with a European diplomat, a person whose views I value, asking her questions about the current conflict. She turned the tables on me and asked: 'Do you think Sharon wants to get rid of Arafat?' " Ben discounted the idea, and told her so. But recent events and comments from Sharon, says Ben, now show that his friend was asking the right question.

David Clark Scott World Editor

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