Reporters on the Job

A WIDOW'S TALE: While reporting Tuesday's story about the killing of Nepalese journalists (page 7), the Monitor's Scott Baldauf encountered one of the more difficult tasks a reporter faces: talking about a deceased person with his relatives.

"It feels awful making a widow cry. But I certainly wasn't asking questions in order to provoke the tears. At one point, I was asking Mrs. Takma what sort of man her husband was. She talked of his passion for poetry, for literature, for the plight of the common man. 'So he wasn't a violent man,' I said, trying to be helpful. Takma simply dissolved in tears, dabbing them with the head scarf she wore.

"In situations like this, the only thing you can do is be silent and apologetic, but you feel guilty for intruding on such a private moment," says Scott.

THE ROCKABYE RAILROAD: Like most freelancer reporters, Arie Farnam knows how to stretch her budget. Take, for example, Tuesday's story about a Ukrainian factory that turns land mines into toys (this page).

Arie took the overnight train from Kiev to Donetsk, where a bunk in a cabin with four berths costs a mere $20. However, passengers don't get to choose their bunkmates. "The first night was fine. I rode with three sisters returning from a shopping trip in Kiev. But on the way back, I had to share the cabin with two businessmen from western Ukraine."

Arie always sleeps on the top bunk for security reasons. "If the train is boarded by bandits, you have more time to react," she says. "Ukrainians don't usually want the top bunk because of the train's sway. These are old, heavy trains that swing from side to side. I don't mind; it's like a cradle."

David Clark Scott
World editor

Cultural snapshot

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