Reporters on the Job

The Channel Gap: While staff writer Peter Ford was working on the series on the transatlantic values gap that begins today (page 1), some uncomfortable parallels struck close to home. Peter notes that the one issue over which his British culture and his wife's French upbringing clash beyond the possibility of compromise is that of religious freedom. Peter is a strong supporter of Muslim girls' right to wear a veil in school. Edith, his wife, sees the veil as a symbol of the oppression of women. "The French parliament's decision to ban the veil from being worn in school ended the public debate," says Peter, "and has contributed considerably to family harmony."

Baghdad Politics: Correspondent Jill Carroll says that the most challenging part of writing about Iraqi politics is that there are no rules, and no well-trodden political landscape (this page). "It changes quickly, almost hour by hour. Everyone knows that Shiite unity is the key to power. So one party says, 'I want XYZ or I'll leave the coalition,' " says Jill. For a reporter in Baghdad, where the phones are often not working or the circuits are jammed, that means going everywhere in person to verify information. Monday, a counterinsurgency operation began west of Baghdad, but was apparently near enough to the city to produce new police and military checkpoints. "The traffic was backed up everywhere. I went to an office to confirm one party's position, but it took hours to get to another to see if that's what they really agreed to," she says.

David Clark Scott
World editor

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