Reporters on the Job

• ARGENTINA ADVERSE: Until recently, reporting from Argentina was a straightforward matter, says Colin Barraclough. "Sources were open and informed, the telephone system functioned perfectly, and getting around Buenos Aires was fast and secure. Argentines told themselves their country was an oasis of order in a disordered continent," he says.

No more. In researching today's story on the rise of political outsiders (page 1), Colin had to navigate around numerous obstacles. "Catching a cab to an interview, we became caught up in a demonstration, one of the daily protests that bring central Buenos Aires to a halt.

On reaching my destination, I found the cab driver could not make change. We searched for an ATM, but the banks have been closed by government order, and cash machines are usually empty. I tried to make change at a newspaper kiosk, but the vendor had no pesos, but only patacones, an unofficial currency printed by the insolvent provincial authorities of Buenos Aires to pay state workers. I was an hour late for the interview."

• VILLAGE OF REBELS: Afghan reporter Lutfullah Mashal had heard rumors that the village of Zerok, famed for launching the first guerrilla attack against the Soviet-backed Communists, was now a center for Al Qaeda activity. So for today's story (this page), he jumped in a car with Malik Jan, an Afghan commander allied with the US military who was also curious. "My friend Malik Jan had fought near Zerok for many years during Soviet invasion. He told me that all the mujahideen, like himself, had looked to Zerok as an inspiration for their own fighting. He still recalls the day when he was 18 years old and heard Soviet helicopters pounding the mountains."In Zerok, they found one of the original rebels, who now runs a small shop in town..

David Clark Scott
World editor

Cultural snapshot

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