Reporters on the Job

Cultural snapshot

• LOOKING FOR ANSWERS: Based on all the news reports she'd heard prior to arrival, the Monitor's Danna Harman expected to find Madagascar in a much more chaotic and violent state (page 1). But everyting is relative. "This is a slow, easygoing island where it does not seem to be in the nature of people to be divisive," she says.

In her interviews with the nation's two main protagonists (the president-elects) and others, Danna found that neither side seemed particularly eager to stir up more trouble. "In meetings with the deputy chief of the Army, Marc Ravalomanana, and Didier Ratsiraka, they all responded the same way when I asked them what their next move would be: 'What do you think I should do?' they each replied. I told them they were in control and it depended on what they were aiming for – and they each said 'Ah, yes.' They also asked if I could come back and speak with them again after I had spoken to the other side."

• A SPECTATOR SPORT: INTERVIEWING: For today's story about a brewing rebellion in Afghanistan over the compostion of the Grand Council or loya jirga (page 7), The Monitor's Ilene Prusher asked a tribal elder for an interview. She arrived at the appointed hour and place, to find a group of men all seated in neat rows on the floor, with their shoes off. "It looked like they were in a mosque. In this part of the world, not all mosques have domes and minarets. As a woman, I didn't dare enter unless invited. But they read my mind, and came out and got me, assuring me it wasn't a mosque. They formed a semi-circle around me. I interviewed the one tribal elder, with 50 of his best friends watching. He was the only one that spoke. Another guy tried to put in his two cents worth, but they all stared at him sternly."

David Clark Scott
World editor

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