• Dependent on Interpreters: Staff writer Scott Baldauf says that having an interpreter that can make clear and accurate translations is a crucial part of covering a foreign country. So, he understands the dilemma faced by US forces and US intelligence agents in Afghanistan (page 1). A bad interpreter means bad intelligence - or bad reporting.
"Once, I was out on assignment and I was sharing the interpreter with another reporter while interviewing an Afghan commander. The commander knew enough English to know when our interpreter had left items out. He kept correcting the interpreter," says Scott. "It made me realize that in most cases I have no way of knowing whether the interpreter is giving an accurate translation, or at times adding his own opinion or rhetorical flourishes," he says.
• Party Politics in Taiwan: When staff writer Robert Marquand arrived in Taipei to cover the coming elections (this page), his first stops were the headquarters of the ruling Democratic People's Party (DPP) and the Kuomintang (KMT). Both have high-end coffee bars and slick websites. But the DPP also has the "Water Lounge" - a place for young voters to hang out that also hosts live rock bands on the weekend. Wednesday, a set of VIP wives, some wearing crystal campaign earrings, along with Chen's mother-in-law, gathered in front of TV cameras in the lounge and demonstrated how to send text messages on cellphones in support of Chen. In coming days, "don't let the cellphone leave your hand," said one enthusiast.
Bob notes that he attended a KMT press conference for the foreign media that was quite savvy and sophisticated. But he did notice that the KMT doesn't have a "Water Lounge."
David Clark Scott