Reporters on the job

HEAVY LIFTING: For today's story on small farmers in Poland (page 6), reporter Arie Farnam and photographer Vladimir Weiss had to roll up their shirt-sleeves and pitch in with local farmers.

Getting up at 5 a.m. - so they could ride into the village in the back of a horse-drawn cart to watch the farmer's son sell milk - was the least of the journalists' worries. To interview Joanna Wojcik, one of the people quoted in the story, Arie had to follow her around while she fed an old wooden threshing machine and then carried the sacks of clean wheat up to her attic. "I felt heartless bothering a grandmother who was hauling heavy sacks of grain," says Arie. "She was out of breath and couldn't take a break to talk, because she had to keep up with the machine. So, every time she headed for the attic, I grabbed a sack as well, giving her a chance to rest and talk, which she did with sparkling amiability." The photographer also helped carry the sacks.

"By the end of the morning, our Polish had improved immensely from staggering pigeon to something bordering on understandable," says Arie, although she also had an interpreter's assistance for the story. "And we had more fun doing it than one generally expects while working," Arie says.

Second time around: When he went for a tour of a Lebanese guerrilla group's satellite TV station in Beirut earlier this year, correspondent Nick Blanford had a list of questions he wanted to ask. But, launching a daily English-language news service, the journalists waved all his questions aside and wanted Nick to tell them just one thing: whether their grammar was correct. In a return visit to the AlManar station for today's story, however, (page 6), Nick got his questions answered.

Margaret Henry

Europe editor

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