Reporters on the Job
• Shania Fan in Kurdistan: Today's story on Iraqi elections (page 1) was delayed by technical difficulties of the kind that make journalists pull their hair out. After writing the piece, correspondent Annia Ciezadlo went to an Internet cafe to send it. Her Apple laptop would not start. The next day, she found a computer technician in Sulaymaniyah who was sure he could fix it. "He pulled out his screwdrivers and began to disassemble it before my eyes," she says.
While he was working, he asked Annia where she was from. "Chicago? That's a great city. Do you know why?"
By way of answering, he turned on another computer in his shop that began playing a Shania Twain concert in Chicago. "For two hours, he danced and worked," says Annia. "He said 'Shania is my guide,' sighing, and rolling his eyes to the heavens. 'She is teaching me English.' But he fixed the computer, and only charged me $25, so it was worth being subjected to an entire Shania Twain concert. I think."
• Front-line Portraits: The Iraqi war zone may be remote, but many family members of marines in Fallujah (this page), where staff writer Scott Peterson was embeded, followed their sons and husbands on the Monitor website, and photos on the Getty Images site. "The feedback from families has been positive and remarkable," says Scott, though sometimes the depiction of life on the front line has had its drawbacks."
One marine, when he finally managed to get a call home, was asked why he was outside the armored vehicle. Another was harangued for not wearing his helmet. One marine was told that of the five photos of him, three showed him smoking cigarettes. And several others ran into trouble with the women in their lives. For example, one image showed a marine beside photos of half-nude women taped to the inside a military vehicle, and was then linked to on a marine wives' website.
"There was mountains of gratitude for the real-time information on what the unit was doing," says Scott. "The families always finished with, 'Keep up the good work.' "
Scott tried to do just that, by burning CDs of stories and photos, for each marine in the unit he was embedded with.
David Clark Scott