Reporters on the Job

Try Me Online:Correspondent Danna Harman notes that many wealthy Qataris still go abroad for higher education, even though Qatar is trying to bring higher education to them (see story). Danna wanted to get in touch with some of them, including some royal students, and hit on an idea. "My younger brother is in college, and so I asked him for his password to Facebook, where kids post endless details and photos about their lives, and stay in touch with each other. I looked up two of the princesses of the Al Thani family who go to Duke University."

As it turned out, there were more than 50 Al Thanis on Facebook – they have their own club. "They write to each other in transliterated Arabic," says Danna, who speaks Arabic. "Vacation planning and flirting topped the discussion. They call each other 'cuz' – they're all related somehow. It's so hard to get interviews with royalty, but I got a window on their world through Facebook."

Whose Facts? Getting at the truth of events is one of the most difficult aspects of working in Iraq, says staff writer Scott Peterson. As the fallout from a raid on Sunday morning – one of hundreds that take place daily – began to spread, Scott recognized a familiar pattern (see story).

"I have written repeatedly from Iraq about the 'perception gap'" says Scott. "In a nation informed almost exclusively by satellite TV and rumor, it does not take much for politicians to make any inflammatory statement to hurt their opponents, or American or Iraqi troops."

Of course, US and Iraqi troops have been involved in atrocities from Abu Ghraib to Shiite death squads, says Scott, which makes it easy to convince Iraqis that their worst prejudices – and the most outrageous lies from manipulative politicians – are all true.

Amelia Newcomb
Deputy world editor

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