Reporters on the Job

• A CHILLING EFFECT: The escalation of the Palestinian-Israeli conflict, plus the clampdown on the media (page 7), have altered the way reporter Ben Lynfield does his job. "I used to get good stories just by sniffing around. I would go to Gaza or the West Bank and wander around talking to people. But since last month's shooting of the Italian photographer Raffaelli Ciriello, I've stopped doing that because it's not safe." Ben also says that his Palestinian colleagues are limited in their movements by Israeli security and their own concerns about safety. "I used to be able to call them and get an idea of what's going on. But there are whole swaths of territory in Gaza that no one's covering now."

Ben says he won't venture into Palestinian territory unless he knows exactly what story he's planning to write. "I have to ask myself: Is this story worth the risk?"

• PICNIC WITH A SHEIKH: Correspondent Scott Peterson is used to meetings with sheikhs who loosen up in the course of an interview. But they don't usually invite his family for a picnic. For today's story about Al Qaeda's connection in northern Iraq (page 1), he interviewed Sheikh Sadiq in the remote town of Halabja, near the border with Iran. The sheikh received Scott from behind a large desk. Tea was served. The conversation eventually drifted to the subject of the anti-Western Islamic militants that are causing trouble for moderate Kurds. "The sheikh dutifully answered all my questions. Then the fruit came, with more tea, and the interview turned into a chat about the beauty of Halabja and its surrounding mountains," he says. The sheikh – biting into a banana – insisted that Scott bring his family next time, so that they might all dine together during a picnic, a favorite Kurdish pastime. Scott, juggling a juicy orange – as his carefully balanced notebook and pen hit the floor – accepted forthwith.

David Clark Scott
World editor

Cultural snapshot

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