Reporters on the Job

• OFF-KEY INAUGURATION: Reporter Nicole Itano attended Zimbabwean President Robert Mugabe's inauguration in Harare yesterday for her story (this page). Like Mr. Mugabe's campaign rallies, this event lacked a certain enthusiasm. "It had none of the trappings of a public celebration," she says. "There were no street celebrations or people hawking inauguration gear outside. Only a couple of thousand people actually attended the ceremony, almost all of whom were dignitaries, public officials, and journalists. And even they were rather subdued."

It also had the worst music Nicole has heard since moving to Africa more than a year ago. "The singers were off key and the band couldn't stay together. The only excuse I can think of is that the inauguration was so hastily thrown together."

• COMPASSION OVER CURIOSITY: Reporter Ben Lynfield spent yesterday investigating a Palestinian family in Gaza that was killed when their donkey cart hit a land mine (page 7). The sole survivor was a teenage boy. "I went by his house to see where he grew up, not expecting to see him. But he was out walking with his friends, carrying a soccer ball," says Ben. As the two were introduced, Ben found himself caught between professional curiosity and human compassion. "I couldn't ask him right away about his family and their deaths just 48 hours earlier. I talked to him about soccer, which I know nothing about. It was the longest conversation about soccer I've ever had, but it didn't last more than a few minutes. I asked him how he was feeling, but he didn't seem to want to discuss it. It felt indecent to go further, and ask him to recount the event. I already had information from others about what happened."

David Clark Scott
World editor

Cultural snapshot

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