Reporters on the job

A CALMING INFLUENCE: Sometimes journalists are accused of altering events just by showing up. While Arie Farnam was reporting today's story about Roma and Czechs building a village of their own (page 1), she actually hoped her presence would be a change agent. Some of the new residents of the village were from Hrusov, a Romany slum, which had been declared unsafe and unsanitary by the Czech police. Housing officials had allowed many Romany residents to stay in the area for four years. But then, one evening last week, officials told three of the families they had until 8 a.m. the next morning to vacate.

"I happened to be in town with two Canadian colleagues, and we decided that the presence of a few journalists might prevent an escalation of the situation, so we showed up to watch," Arie says.

For a long, tense moment, the housing officials stood watching the mini-international press corps. Then, a deputy mayor appeared on the scene and began shouting at the families to leave. They didn't want to, because they had nowhere to go. The local police began moving in, and Arie and her colleagues moved closer as well. "Suddenly, the deputy mayor seemed to catch sight of us," Arie says. "He pushed his way through the police and stomped away. Soon the rest of the crowd dispersed quietly." At last check, the families were still there.

WELL-LUBRICATED MEALS: For today's story about conditions in Spain's olive country (this page), reporter Otto Pohl came away with a taste of regional pride. "I had olive oil for breakfast, lunch, and dinner," he says. The Andalusian standard breakfast fare is a roll, sliced, toasted, dressed with a tomato slice and drizzled with olive oil.

But that wasn't enough for Otto. He went to "Juanito," a restaurant famous for its seven-course olive-oil dinner. "Everything was fried, dunked, or soaked in extra-virgin oil," he says.

- David Clark Scott

World Editor

CULTURAL SNAPSHOT

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