Reporters on the Job

NAMELESS IN IVORY COAST: The Monitor's Danna Harman arrived in Abidjan, Ivory Coast, just as weeks of street riots against the country's white population stopped. During her 10-day stay, she could feel the tension and fear in the air. But outward signs of danger were missing, leading her to wonder if stories she had heard before arriving were exaggerated.

That perception changed when she met the white resident featured in today's story (page 1). "He was afraid for his life," Danna says. "It was really sad hearing how much he loved the country, and how betrayed he now felt. I was left sort of speechless at his despair."

Still, he was a perfect example to illustrate her story - until he said she could not identify him because he would be killed.

"I decided (with his permission) to use his story anyway, hiding his identity. There is a reason journalists identify those they write about: It lends credibility and protects against people making all kinds of statements under cover of anonymity. But there are cases, like this one, where it cannot be helped. Most other French people I met refused even to speak to me."

NOT YOUR USUAL BANTER: As part of his reporting for today's story on the wall Israel is building around Qalqilya, West Bank (this page), the Monitor's James Norton interviewed the brother of a Palestinian suicide bomber. The experience was not at all what James expected.

"I was surprised at the genial spirit of the interview. The mood was surreal. I walked in prepared for hostility, grief, and intense anti-Americanism. Instead, I got a glass of juice and a pleasant chat."

As James asked questions through his interpreter, officials from the governor's office cracked jokes with the bomber's brother. "No one seemed particularly flustered by the fact that we were discussing the death of a family member and several innocent Israelis," James says. "Ironically, I walked out of the room rattled by how composed everyone else had been."

- Amelia Newcomb

Deputy World editor

Cultural snapshot

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