Reporters on the Job

• WALK THIS WAY: The Monitor's Scott Baldauf has walked through enough battlefields to keep his eyes peeled for landmines or unexploded ordnance. But while working on today's story about a drought in southern India (page 8), Scott learned about another hazard.

"I'm following a farmer out into the rice paddies, walking along a narrow ridge of dirt between two flooded fields," says Scott. "Our goal is to talk to a group of farmworkers who are busily planting rice stalks. But first we must climb up and over a small mound of dirt that appears to be an animal dwelling. Following the farmer on top of the mound, I ask him if this is the home of rats. 'Nope,' the farmer replies, walking on. 'Cobras.'

"At this point, my life turns into a Buster Keaton movie. I begin to lose my balance, flapping my arms as if atop some precipice. 'Watch your step,' the farmer says, helpfully. When we reach the farmworkers, they are all smiling."

• GASP: A REPORTER! To report the story about Israelis coping with the loss of children to a suicide bombing (page 1), the Monitor's Ilene Prusher needed more than a day. The retreat she writes about lasted for three days. She needed at least two, and she was right. "The first day I was working with a photographer and everyone was just arriving. It was too soon for people to open up. The second day made a big difference in the quality of the story," she says.

One indication came during a therapy session with several families. "One of the participants said, 'Maybe we should ask the reporter,' and a couple of people gasped: 'There's a reporter here?' Apparently some had not been notified of my presence. But later one of them complimented me. 'You were so unobtrusive that I thought you were one of the therapists, not a member of the media.' "

David Clark Scott
World editor

Cultural snapshot

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