Reporters on the Job

MILITANT VIEWS: Elizabeth Rubin was faced with at least two obstacles in reporting today's story about Kashmiri militants in Pakistan (page 1). First, she's a woman, and second, she's an American journalist.

One encounter illustrates the challenge. She was waiting in the garden courtyard of the "Center for Islam" in Peshawar and tried to engage one of the jihadis.

"My interpreter asked him if we could talk. But he wouldn't even look at me, because I'm a woman. He spoke only to my interpreter, a Pakistani journalist. He wasn't angry, but sincerely disappointed that Western media coverage was unable to see the 'legitimacy of the threat to Islam.' He was once a student of international relations. 'You think that we don't know what you're writing. But we read the news on the Internet.' " Elizabeth understands how he might form that perception. And she admits "it's hard for American journalists to see things neutrally after Sept. 11."

SHOPPING ALONE IN BEIJING: After doing most of the reporting for today's story on pirated products in China (this page), the Monitor's Robert Marquand had to go shopping for a replacement computer part.

He went to the "Buy Now" building in downtown Beijing. It's a collection of small storefronts that sell computer equipment and software cheaper than elsewhere. "It's a madhouse, jammed with people seven days a week. No one asks where anything comes from," he says.

About 20 paces away, is a department store with a 'legitimate' computer sales area. "It's an entire floor of the exact same equipment, spacious displays, nicer attendants, and even the same owners as the "Buy Now" store. The main differences are that they accept credit cards, the prices are 2 percent higher - and I was the only shopper there," says Bob.

- David Clark Scott

World editor

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