Reporters on the Job

Straight to Work: Before he even arrived in Baghdad Wednesday, correspondent Nicholas Blanford knew he'd be hitting the ground running as he started his stint in Iraq. Nick was just leaving Amman, Jordan, when the news came of a blast outside an army recruiting post in Baghdad (page 1).

"When I arrived, I discovered the enormity of the attack and went to check it out," Nick says. Since US forces had quickly sealed off the site, though, Nick and his interpreter headed for a nearby hospital where some of the casualties were being taken.

"It was a small setup, and they weren't used to having press come by, so a bemused guard just waved us in - something that doesn't usually happen," Nick says. "There were about 20 people lying there, survivors, surrounded by friends and family. Some said they had even been talking about the previous day's attack at a police station in Iskandariyah."

"With this second blast, it bears watching to see if the queues of applicants start to dwindle. There was definitely a mood of 'to heck with this - there must be a better way to earn money,' " Nick says.

Moving right along: When reporter Ben Lynfield arrived in Gaza Wednesday, fighting was still under way (this page). "I try to avoid those scenes, but the Israeli army hadn't completed the house demolition of a wanted fugitive," says Ben. "There were gunmen on the street, and I heard shooting in the distance. But there was no shooting in the immediate area, so I talked to a masked gunman."

As it turned out, time didn't allow for in-depth exchanges. "An explosion brought a quick end to the interview - I decided to retreat to the relative safety of the hospital and talk to people there."

Amelia Newcomb
Deputy world editor

cultural snapshot

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