Reporters on the Job
FEAR OF FREE SPEECH: As Zimbabweans went to the polls this weekend in a closely contested race (this page), reporter Nicole Itano found that even talking to people can sometimes put their lives in danger. At one polling station, she and an American radio reporter were talking to people waiting in line before voting started. "While we were talking to one woman, a large woman dressed in blue came up and slapped the woman we were interviewing across the face," says Nicole. "When we went inside the polling center, several minutes later, we discovered that the woman in blue was a ZANU-PF polling agent. The message she was trying to send people was clear: Don't talk to foreign reporters."
At another polling station, Nicole and the same reporter were talking to a group of young MDC supporters, and they were quite agitated about the long lines. "After we left, I received a call from one of the men saying that members of a ZANU-PF youth militia had approached them and demanded to know what they were saying to us. The militia members said they would see the men after they voted. He sounded terrified," says Nicole. "His voice was shaking, and he clearly thought that these guys were going to kill him or at least beat him up." Later, Nicole returned to the polling station and gave the man a ride home. "I didn't want to be responsible for anyone getting hurt."
CAFE BOMBINGS: Reporter Ben Lynfield has been to the Moment cafe that was attacked in Jerusalem by a suicide bomber Sunday (page 14), but he wasn't a regular. "It's a very trendy cafe - a place to see and be seen. I just don't fit in there," he concedes. But the cafe Ben frequents was the scene of an averted bombing last week. A waiter was suspicious of a patron, and grabbed his bag full of explosives. "The attacks used to be mostly in the center of the city. It seems they're spreading out. I love to go to cafes, but I've stopped," says Ben.
David Clark Scott