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Reporters on the Job

December 3, 2003



Interview or Interrogation? Staff writer Scott Baldauf faced a conundrum as he reported Wednesday's piece about an Indian witchcraft group that has sacrificed 25 people, including children (page 7). The local police in the Saharanpur district have outlawed the practice, so how was Scott going to find a Tantric to interview? He asked the police chief, who said, "Let me get back to you."

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Scott hoped he'd get a name and an address to follow up on. "Instead, a group of police officers walked into my hotel lobby with a Tantric in tow. It was more of an interrogation than an interview. I would gently ask a question, and the cops would jump in with 'Don't you rip people off with your scams?'

"He wasn't under arrest, but the circumstances were not conducive to an open exchange," says Scott. "I only got a few moments when the cops weren't listening and he told me what he felt."

Visiting a Kursk Widow: During a pre-election stop in the Russian city of Kursk, staff writer Scott Peterson decided to visit one of the wives of the sailors lost when the nuclear submarine Kursk was sunk in 2000. He was unsure what he would find. Lubov Kalinina opened the door, introduced her two small daughters, and they sat down to talk about how the family was doing (page 8). One of the most poignant moments came at the end, Scott says, as he and his interpreter were donning their heavy jackets to leave. "Thank you for remembering us," Scott recalls Mrs. Kalinina saying, in the most heartfelt way. "This was a tragedy that hurt us, but shook the whole world."

David Clark Scott
World editor

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