Reporters on the Job

• Serbian Speakers Wanted: Reporter Arie Farnam says that today's story about refugees returning to Kosovo required a fair amount of traveling around between isolated enclaves and talking to Serbian-speaking minorities (page 7). But getting a Serbian interpreter was a tall order in an area where speaking Serbian may put one's life in danger.

"Most educated Serbs who can, have left Kosovo. Those few who remain, and who also speak English, tend to have full-time jobs with the UN. I spent much of my first week there just trying to find an interpreter," says Arie. "I did find a Romany teenager to translate an interview with a Serbian community leader in an enclave near Pristina but the youth was too terrified to leave his village."

Finally, one interviewee scribbled down for Arie the phone number of a Serb journalist working for the UN radio station in Kosovo. "Through this connection I fell in with a group of Serb journalists from Reuters and the famous Serbian dissident station B92, who were all too happy to travel around the countryside and take turns translating for me," she says. "We traveled in a white, UN-marked Land Rover, which served as our passport through ethnic-Albanian territory. We passed through some of the most militant areas in Kosovo, virtually controlled by a new ethnic-Albanian paramilitary army, without incident. The UN logo is the equivalent of diplomatic license plates in Kosovo."

• Smoke-Free Information: The Monitor's Cameron Barr went to a press conference in Ramallah, West Bank, for today's story about grass-roots Israeli and Palestinian peace initiatives (page 1). "One of the perks of reporting in the Palestinian territories is the opportunity for a tasty, inexpensive Arab meal," he says. But then he remembered it was Ramadan and the restaurants were closed. "Still, thanks to Ramadan, no one smoked at the press conference. No food, but a clean atmosphere," says Cameron.

David Clark Scott
World editor

Cultural snapshot
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