• Mosque nugget: After staff writer Scott Peterson arrived in Iran early Friday to begin reporting on the mounting tensions over Iran's nuclear program (page 1), he decided that he would attend noon prayers. Even though prayers rarely yield headlines, Scott did find an interesting nugget for his story.
In order to attend the Muslim prayer service at the city's main political venue, Tehran University, Scott was required to hand in his press card for a journalist badge, undergo a search, and put all of his camera equipment through an X-ray machine. Only after that was he allowed to climb some metal stairs to hear the sermon and observe the devout.
"The prayer leader was not one of the big-name ayatollahs, and the arena on a drizzly day did not fill up until the end," says Scott. "But there was a reward: the huge banner hanging under the dais said it all, by spelling out that Iran would never give up it nuclear activities."
• Brand new Karachi: For staff writer Scott Baldauf, the story on Pakistan's first performing-arts academy (page 1) made him the happiest he's been while reporting in Pakistan in a very long time. "Keep in mind that for most reporters, Karachi is the city forever etched in our minds as the place where Danny Pearl, the Wall Street Journal reporter, was murdered by Al Qaeda supporters," Scott says.
"But reporting this story was a kind of healing. It showed me a Karachi I've only heard about - a city that doesn't sleep because of the buoyant night life, a city of cosmopolitan tastes, aspirations, and values," Scott says. "Most of all, walking around the gorgeous campus - the old Hindu Gymkhana, which looks as if it could be a movie set, and often has been in the past - I realized how unfair it is to define a city by a dark moment in history. Karachi is moving on, and embracing a new liberal self."
Michael B. Farrell
Middle East editor