Reporters on the Job

PALACE PARADE: The Monitor's Ilene Prusher got past the first obstacle in getting today's story about Indonesian President Wahid's downfall (page 7). The presidential palace guards wouldn't admit her because they said she didn't have the proper press credentials. Fortunately, an Australian biographer, living on the grounds, interceded on her behalf. But what followed were a series of distractions as she interviewed the biographer under an ancient banyan tree on the palace grounds. "Groups of well-wishers from different parts of the country kept filing past in their traditional garb," says Ilene. At one point, a group of reporters and photographers raced to surround someone, and Ilene briefly wondered, "What am I missing? Is someone important coming to see Wahid?" But it turned out to be Wahid's infant grandson in a stroller. And every few minutes, Ilene kept hearing a rooster crow. "The place grounds were so nicely kept, I couldn't imagine farm animals on the loose. Apparently the little guy is the presidential rooster, kept around as a wake-up caller."

WHAT'S NEWSWORTHY?: About 20 journalists - foreign and local - showed up at the unveiling of a joint Israeli-Palestinian peace document Wednesday (page 1). The event was held in the West Bank offices of a pro-democracy organization run by Palestinian legislator Hanan Ashrawi. "It was a pretty good turnout, considering how marginalized their views have become," says Ben Lynfield. He noticed state-run Israeli TV crews there. "But they decided not to report on the event. That's quite telling. Israeli TV is trying to be patriotic and rally folks around the flag. They're not giving much time to alternative views like this," he says.


GOLDEN ARCHES GOES PUBLIC: The president of McDonald's Co. Japan, Den Fujita, yesterday enjoyed a burger, and the first initial public offering for McDonald's stock outside of the US. The fast-food chain has 3,700 outlets in Japan, and controls about 65 percent of the burger market. Its price-slashing strategy - halving the prices of hamburgers on weekdays - has helped. Customers can grab a hamburger for 65 yen (53 cents), significantly cheaper than a traditional onigiri - a rice ball wrapped in seaweed with a variety of fillings.

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