The Press: Getting the News from Laos

Before surrendering their copy to the pajama-clad Laotians in Vientiane's flyspecked telegraph office, savvy correspondents pointedly wrapped it around a bottle of cognac. One newsman begged the native telegrapher not to send his stories last page first, finally won his case with smiles. Everyone craftily slugged dispatches "urgent," but the imperturbable telegraphers were unimpressed; crisis or no, they shut up shop every night at 7:30, leaving newsmen to gnash their teeth at 24-hour delays in transmission.

For some two dozen newsmen on the spot in Laos last week, the assignment was a new...

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