Reporters on the Job

ON THE AIR IN IRAQ: The Monitor's Danna Harman tried to track down the "Voice of the New Iraq" reporters and their office in Baghdad for Tuesday's story (page 1). Her editors in Boston called the US Central Command in Qatar. They also sent an e-mail to the station's press secretary. No reply in either place.

Danna went to the US Office of Reconstruction and Humanitarian Affairs, asked her press colleagues, and quizzed their Iraqi interpreters. "No one seemed to know where Radio Iraq reporters were working from in town - it's a big secret," says Danna. She asked at the Palestine Hotel, where many media and military officials work. She chased several leads. "Someone said the people at Abu Dhabi TV would know. No one did. Someone said the brother of an Radio Iraq reporters worked for the BBC. Nothing," she says.

Finally, just minutes before deadline, Danna found the director of news for Radio Iraq at Saddam Hussein's main palace, the station's new broadcasting perch.

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At the state broadcasting annex building, where former government workers are outside waiting to hear about their future, the folks told Danna that the Radio Iraq reporters are smart to stay hidden. She says: "Some said there was anger at them because they were working for the Americans, but most admitted that they were jealous of them. 'They are hiding because otherwise we would all be there asking them for a job,' they told me."

Danna notes that everyone she interviewed was impressed by the song selections on Radio Iraq. "Everyone I met who was listening to the station was singing along to the songs and saying things like 'Oh my goodness, I have not heard this in forever; it's an old favorite from the 50s,' or, 'This is our favorite singer ... he was banned because Uday [Hussein] did not like him.' "

David Clark Scott
World editor

Cultural snapshot

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