Reporters on the Job

PAPER TRAIL: Being a war correspondent may look like a glamorous job for the exalted, pen-toting few who stride into still-smoking fields of battle. But the truth is that the pens are often deployed in the lowly task of filling out forms, says the Monitor's Scott Baldauf. For today's story (page 1), Scott says that in addition to meeting with various generals and spies, he had to visit Pakistan's intelligence agency to get permission to live in Islamabad.

Then as news came that the eastern Afghan city of Jalalabad had fallen to the Northern Alliance, he joined hundreds of journalists lining up to ask for permission to visit Torkham, the closest Pakistani city to Jalalabad. "Normally, I would have complained," Scott deadpans. "But I don't think I filled out that particular form."

NO MORE CAMPING: Monitor correspondent Scott Peterson is almost wistful about his abandoned digs in Jabal Saraj, Afghanistan, where he spent the last month and a half, reporting. He misses, for example, the potbelly stove he bought a week before the Northern Alliance advanced on the Afghan capital. One of the first journalists to arrive in Kabul (page 6), Scott moved into a dusty room in the Hotel Intercontinental. There was no bed, no table, and a hole in the wall from a previous war. He switched rooms. This one still had no water, no heat, and no bulbs in the lamps. The door to the balcony - crucial for satellite phone transmissions - was stuck closed. But a hotel "engineer" was summoned, and he managed to free the door and get the lights working. "I have regular electricity, and that's a minor miracle in this country."

Now, Scott's started decorating. He's taping up photos of his wife and young children, and his kids' paintings. "I wonder if they'd let me put a potbelly stove in here," he muses.

SUSPICIOUS CHARACTER: As British authorities ratchet up their security measures against terrorist suspects, Peter Ford (page 8) knows that his face is in police files somewhere.

Six weeks ago, as he walked into a north London mosque to interview a radical imam suspected of terrorist connections, a policeman jumped out of his car and videotaped Peter as he went up the mosque steps. "I considered explaining to the policemen who I was, but I didn't think hobnobbing with an officer would help my credibility with the imam, whom I hope to interview again one day."

David Clark Scott

World editor

Let us hear from you.

Mail to: One Norway Street, Boston, MA 02115 via e-mail: world@csmonitor.com

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