While some reporters labeled the summit a slow story and a few were caught yawning at briefings over the past several days, Henrich H. Tann is not among them.

His press pass says he works for the Estonian News Agency, which he serves as a one-man band who writes and broadcasts "many times a day" in Estonian. Tann said he also has been writing stories in English for a German publication, and in Russian for a publication in Paris.

Tann, who said he thinks "a great moment is going on here," is one of many journalists writing here for Eastern Bloc publications who have found the work harder and the expense money tighter since governments have loosened their controls and new bosses worry more about budgets than propaganda.

"I am trying to figure out: What's his message?" said Alesh Benda, who is the new Washington correspondent for the Czechoslovak News Agency and who would have had it all figured out for him in earlier years.

Benda said he has decided that Soviet President Mikhail Gorbachev is telling the Americans "something that is very near to, to, even blackmail." He added carefully: "It's like he's saying {to President Bush}, if not me, who?"

Benda said that he is hoping for another revolution on the horizon for him and his colleagues -- a technological one this time. He said that he is the first reporter for his agency to use a fax machine to send his copy to the agency in Czechoslovakia.

Why not use a laptop computer like the Americans and Japanese? he is asked.

"Because there is nothing to send it to on the other side," he explained.

Similarly, Paul Bokor of the Hungarian daily Magyar Hirlap said his paper is expecting to move into the computer era next year when British media baron Robert Maxwell, who bought a portion of the paper, has promised to help convert it into a "desktop" operation.

But until Maxwell's money arrives, times are lean for his paper, Bokor said.

"No funds, no funds," he said, adding that there are only two other Hungarian reporters and no full-time Hungarian television crews here for the summit.

"The state is not paying for this and the companies which have replaced them are not eager to pay too," he said.

Asked why these new companies or operations have allowed journalists from a previous era to remain on the job, Benda said that in many cases established reporters were fired, demoted and resigned.

"I wasn't one of the colleagues on the front line against capitalism," Benda says. "I never wrote about issues where you had to lie too much -- like Afghanistan," he added.

For Soviet reporters, the differences from earlier times are less dramatic; the staffs are still large for government media operations. But Soviet journalists appeared to be working harder -- in part because Gorbachev and his staff seemed to be appearing everywhere and spontaneously speaking for the record.

"I think the Soviet side has been far more accessible than the U.S. side, and for the life of me I can't understand why," said Alexander Shalnev, New York correspondent for Izvestia.

"It's been very hectic, very intensive. We have been very busy trying to catch everybody, everywhere" said an almost-breathless Yuri Kobaldze, a radio and television correspondent for Gostelradio.

Still Kobaldze, like his colleagues, managed to carve out a few moments to hit the shops. "I did have time to {go to} Georgetown and go to a mall," he said. "It was very impressive. We pray for that."

Another Soviet writer, Evgeny Andrianov of the liberal weekly magazine New Times, said he has found this summit less exciting than earlier ones. "This is not the excitement of 1987," Andrianov explained. "It's become routine business for us now."

But Andrianov added that his deadline for a mood story about the summit -- which started Thursday -- was three days earlier.

"I said it was 'pretty businesslike,' " Andrianov said. Then he looked around the quiet, almost sleepy press center at George Washington University where an impending briefing had raised barely a shiver of excitement and smiled like a man who believed he had hit it just right.