Reporters on the Job

• ASSUMED BIAS: There are some complications in working on a story about Hindu-Christian tensions (this page) for a paper called The Christian Science Monitor, says Scott Baldauf.

"Christians automatically assumed I would be sympathetic, and often had to be reminded that the Monitor doesn't pick sides. Hindus on the other hand, assumed I would be hostile," says Scott.

"Is it possible for The Christian Science Monitor to be objective in its reporting?" asked Mr. Srinivasan, the public relations officer for a top Hindu teacher, the Shankaracharya.

"I replied that objective reporting was the whole reason why the Monitor was founded. The next day, Mr. Srinivasan called me back. 'I read some stories on the Web that you wrote from Kashmir,' he said. 'They were very balanced.' Naturally, I was relieved."

• UNDERCOVER, BEHIND A VEIL: Reporter Gretchen Peters says that trying to report the story about Al Qaeda hiding in Pakistan's urban jungles (page 8) posed certain challenges. "Pakistani intelligence officials are not inclined to meet with foreigners in general, especially female ones. It's not a matter of their being conservative, they're just worried their bosses will hear about it," says Gretchen.

"One official I met with asked me to cover up in a veil, so bystanders who saw my car arrive at his office would think I was local," she says.

But it was hard not to attract attention: Pakistani officials sent her and several colleagues around with a truckload of police armed to the teeth. "When we arrived at the scene of one of the parcel bombs, and our bodyguards fanned out around us, all the local press started taking our photos, again confused by our identity. 'They think you must be CIA or FBI,' said the local journalist I was working with."

David Clark Scott
World editor

Cultural snapshot

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