Reporters on the Job
PARCEL POST JOURNALIST: In covering the story of illegal farm seizures by the Zimbabwean government (page 7), reporter Jacqui Goddard found the farming community to be something akin to Europe's resistance movement during World War II.
"In order to move me round the rural areas safely," she said, "farmers radioed each other about my movements, referring to me as 'the parcel' in order not to alert government eavesdroppers. 'The parcel will be with you at noon' or 'Can you collect the parcel at 2 p.m.?' But when I turned up at one farm as arranged, it was clear the code had not been entirely understood. 'So where's my parcel?' asked the farmer, looking at me rather disappointedly."
CHAMELEON CABBY: When reporter Martin Hodgson was out reporting in Caracas, Venezuela (page 6), his taxi took a wrong turn, and he was surrounded by cars and crowds of supporters at the head of the pro-Chávez march. "My driver started honking his horn, calling out to protesters, who gave him a poster to stick in the windscreen, and painted pro-Chávez slogans on his windows. When we finally got through the procession, the driver started cursing the president and the mess on his car.
"I thought you were for Chávez," Martin said. No, it was a taxi-driver survival tactic. " 'It's just best to agree with whomever is around you,' " he told Martin.
PARTING THE CROWD: The Monitor's Ilene Prusher arrived at the inauguration ceremony of the new governor of Khost (this page), and discovered she was the only woman and the only foreign journalist among several hundred well-wishers. "My interpreter exited the car first, to see if it was safe. He waved me out, and the crowd parted as if I was Moses at the Red Sea. I walked right to the stage to take pictures."
Later, while interviewing the new governor, a knock at the door announced the arrival of a reporter from a major US daily. He was told that the governor was too busy for an interview. Ilene continued, and noting the governor's background in anthropology she asked about Pashtun history. The governor replied, "Why don't we talk about it over my inauguration dinner?" She accepted.
David Clark Scott