Heading Home

As I left Dushanbe at 2:45 this morning local time, I still needed to find a few presents for folks back home. The shopping in Dushanbe is pretty much limited to staples for the population — food, housewares, etc. There are a few gift items, but not much.

So, at the airport I was relieved to see a small gift shop (and a rare refrigerated case where I could get a cold drink). Unfortunately for me, the gift pickings were still quite slim and the prices were exorbitant. (It seems the Tajikis have at least learned the capitalist lesson of a captive audience.) So, if you’re expecting a fine gift from Dushanbe, you might as well resign yourself to being disappointed.

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Rubbed Raw

Perhaps presaging today’s events, last night I found myself unable to fall asleep. Awake until 2 a.m., I passed the time reading David Remnick‘s The Bridge, a biography of Barack Obama. It’s quite interesting and makes me wonder what the young Obama would say about his presidency.

Never mind that for now, though. I finally drifted off to sleep only to awake several hours later with a rolling pain in my belly. After determining that my kidneys were still in tact, I rushed to the bathroom where I … well, no need for details here. Let’s just say Mr. Whipple doesn’t need to worry about anyone squeezing Tajiki TP.

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American Cornered

Today was my day at “American Corner,” where locals come to hear an American speak in his/her native tongue. I was asked to discuss social media and its role in creating a civil society, a topic I’m sure a great many American journalists would consider a contradiction in terms.

I began my talk by showing some examples of journalism in which engaging with readers improved the quality of the reporting. This included Sunlight’s live blog, our 180 degree project, projects I worked on at USA TODAY, and projects from the New York Times and other media organizations. The audience seemed suitably swayed that social media could be a tool for good and not just for teens or evil (as if there’s a difference).

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