Reporters on the Job

Speaking Freely in Africa: The Monitor's Abraham McLaughlin was worried that he wouldn't be able to interview Ethiopia's Minister of Information about about press-freedom issues (page 1). The topic is politically sensitive and it was during the holiday week of Eid, the end of Ramadan. But the editor of a local independent newspaper gave him a tip: "Tell [the minister] you've talked to editors of the independent press. Nothing will get him riled up like knowing you've talked to people like me."

"Sure enough," says Abe, "the minister even came into his office on Eid to talk with me for more than an hour."

Two days after interviewing another source for the story, Abe got an e-mail from that person that said, in part, "In a democratic country, a person can be quoted by a newspaper or electronic media and nothing would happen to him. In the case of Ethiopia, quoting a person would be like passing a death sentence on the person. I stand by what I said to you. But for an understandable reason, please know that I do not want to be quoted."

"Needless to say, I didn't quote him," says Abe. "But it was an interesting window on the state of political discourse in Ethiopia."

David Clark Scott
World editor


China's Mouse Freed: China has released a young Internet dissident known as the "stainless-steel mouse," a Hong Kong rights group said Sunday. As reported in the Monitor on Nov. 6 ("The 'mouse' that caused an uproar in China"), Liu Di, a student at Beijing Normal University, was detained for more than a year for criticizing the government. The release came a week ahead of a visit to the United States by China's Premier Wen Jiabao.

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