Reporters on the Job

WORK OR GOSSIP? Staff writer Nicole Gaouette shares an office with staff writer Cameron Barr, so there are times when they can't help hearing each other's conversations. During one phone interview for Wednesday's story about a Palestinian radio soap opera (page 1), Nicole asked the director to tell her the entire "Home is Our Home" storyline.

"He started telling me about confused but good Ahmad, his bad-egg buddy Fiddo, and Amal, a young woman confined to her family home because she is shamefully divorced," says Nicole. From Cameron's vantage point, across the room, the conversation sounded like this:

Silence.

"Reeeally?!? How could she?"

Silence.

"Oh. My. Goodness."

Silence.

"NO!!"

"And so on through heartbreak, heart attacks, romance, suicides, and robberies, until I had every last detail," says Nicole. Cameron still has his doubts about whether Nicole was working, or chatting with a gossipy old friend.

IS THIS THAILAND? Reporter Frank Bures empathizes with the teachers of the 21 schools burned in southern Thailand this past weekend (this page). He and his wife spent some time in the region last year teaching English. "We saw one burned-out school. The headmaster of the school across the street from ours was gunned down. And a week after we visited an ancient Buddhist temple, it was bombed," he says.

He says southern Thailand looks and sounds like a different country. "My wife taught a kindergarten English class and none of the children spoke any Thai," says Frank. The city where they lived had no Western fast food. "It must be the only city in Thailand without a KFC," he says. "Some of the taxis had stenciled portraits of Osama bin Laden on the doors, with his name underneath."

David Clark Scott
World editor

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