Reporters on the Job

STRANGER IN A STRANGE LAND: The Monitor's Danna Harman spent three days and three (long) nights in the South African town of Orania (page 1). "I needed three days to get people to open up," she notes. The townspeople in this white enclave distrust the media. "They seem to hate us for what they see as our leftist leanings and for portraying them as racists. But on the other hand they are wise enough to realize they need the media attention and the publicity to further their cause and attract new citizens," says Danna.

During her entire first day in Orania she was accompanied by a "minder" who preferred that she not speak to anyone he hadn't preselected. "In time, I gained some trust and he allowed me to hold freer interviews, which is when I got some better material."

NAVIGATING THE CONGO: When reporter Nicole Itano arrived in the Kindu, Congo, she met a US aid worker who had been held by the local military for a day. "He told me to be careful. A French journalist had spent three days in jail." When she returned to the UN offices after her first day of reporting, a UN official was frantic. "He was glad I was all right because he'd heard the military was looking for me," says Nicole. "We decided to go meet the local commander. I didn't ask him very tough questions because I didn't want to start off by getting him mad at me. He's been accused of a civilian massacre by a human rights group (page 7)."

The next day, Nicole ran into the commander, and he was drunk. "He'd taken a fancy to me, and asked me to be his second wife. I declined, suggesting he might settle for a photo. He agreed and wrapped both arms around me. You're prepared for that kind of behavior in a bar. But it's harder when the guy is accused of murder and has the power to throw you in jail."

David Clark Scott
World editor

Cultural snapshot

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