Reporters on the Job

A MOMENT BETWEEN FATHERS: Baghdad correspondent Peter Ford says he can normally control his emotions when he is reporting, however harrowing the circumstances. But sometimes, simple human sympathy is much more powerful than the desire to maintain a professional and objective distance. That was the case when he interviewed Mahmoud Ali Hamadi, an Iraqi who lost his wife and three children in a US missile attack six weeks ago (page 1). "Mr. Hamadi was so shattered by his loss, his face was so exhausted and his whole demeanor so beaten down, that when he broke into tears over an old family photo of the children, I could not help myself. I cried too," says Peter, a father of three. "And for a moment, that shared emotion helped dull the discomfort I felt at making this poor man recount the worst moment of his life for newspaper readers thousands of miles away who would probably forget him the next day."

ST. PETERSBURG AT 300: Reporter Fred Weir went to the Russian city full of expectation. "I visited the city in 1986, and it was an architectural jewel, but starting to fade," says Fred. In the 1990s, the city acquired a reputation for corruption. "The building facades were dull, crumbling. I visited two years ago with my family to see the fabulous museums, and thought with a little work it could be one of the top European cities. The first day back last week, I thought, 'They've done it! It's clean and beautiful again.' But by Day 2, Fred revised his assessment (page 7). "It's a Potemkin village. They spent $2 billion and I have no idea what they spent it on. It's a touch-up job. If you walk a few blocks off the main street, you see the old decay. It's very disheartening."

David Clark Scott
World editor

Cultural snapshot

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