Reporters on the Job

• A PASSION FOR POLITICS: Reporter Nicole Itano was prompted to write today's story because she continues to come across indications that civic activism in Southern Africa is on the rise (page 7). For example, she first met Pastor Paul Mususu while doing a story on the food shortages in Zambia. They set off on a Saturday morning in Nicole's battered rental car, heading to a region where the crisis was most severe. Mususu, who was obviously tired and overworked, kept nodding off during the conversation, until the topic turned to former President Chiluba and the corruption allegations against him.

"Suddenly, Mususu was incredibly animated and is speech was quite fiery," says Nicole. "You could tell that fixing Zambia's political system was what he really cared about."

• HARD BEATS SOFT: The Monitor's Ilene Prusher had planned to drive from Jerusalem to the West Bank city of Nablus in her photographer's car. But when she met Alan Philps, a reporter for The Daily Telegraph of London at a gas station, she decided to change vehicles.

Alan's car is an enormous, boxy bullet-proof vehicle painted bright yellow and has 'PRESS' blazoned across it. "Oh, he has a hard car," Ilene's photographer said. "Well, we should go with him."

When Ilene was based in the region from 1996 to 2000, none of the journalists talked about "hard" or "soft" cars. Now, it's one of the first questions that arises. But it's novel enough, says Ilene, that "everywhere you go, people are fascinated. When we left an interview in a refugee camp where an underground school was set up (page 1), we found more than a dozen local children around the car, kicking the doors and knocking on the fist-thick windows just to see how tough they were."

David Clark Scott
World editor

Cultural snapshot

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