Reporters on the Job

Governing by Text Message: If you're trying to do business in Tirana, Albania's fast-growing capital, you had best have a cellphone and a very dexterous thumb, says correspondent Colin Woodard.

Placing or receiving even a local call with a cellphone is expensive there, and prohibitively so if the other party is on a land line. So businessmen, government officials, and other professionals prefer to communicate by text messaging. "At times it seems the capital is being governed via text messages," Colin says.

A case in point: Colin had an hour-and-a-half lunch interview with the mayor of Tirana, Edi Rama (page 1), but the mayor spent half the time responding to incoming messages, his thumb rapidly working the key pad, dispatching instructions to underlings, resolving a crisis at a construction site, and arranging meetings. "I'm sorry for this," Rama explained as his phone chirpily announced the arrival of yet another message. "It's always like this."

Amelia Newcomb
Deputy world editor

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