Reporters on the Job
• An Uncivil Ride : Correspondent Mark Rice-Oxley sees the worst of "rude Britain" on the 12:30 a.m. train out of London after leaving his job at The Guardian. "It's the train ride from Hades. You have kids with their feet on the seats and people smoking in violation of the no-smoking rules. If you challenge them, you get an earful - or a fight. Every other week, they challenge the authority of the conductor," he says.
Often Mark rides his bicycle to work, then brings it home on the train. "Recently, some lout carelessly tossed his bike into the compartment hitting several passengers. A fight broke out. A minute later, when I tried to enter the compartment with my bicycle, it took all my diplomatic skills to defuse the situation and convince the passengers that I wasn't his brother or friend," he says.
Are people really more rude today than in the past? "There is some nostalgia. People tend to forget the football hooliganism of the '80s. But that was a distinct group. I would suggest that the ordinary man on the street is more ready to go eyeball-to-eyeball today than he was 10 or 15 years ago." His story today (page 1) looks at the possible causes, and what's being done to improve the situation.
• Godspeed, Samir : For several years, Monitor correspondents have relied on Samir Zedan as an interpreter and guide in the Palestinian territories. Today's story, from Samir's home town of Bethlehem (page 7), will be his last. He's going to Iraq to work for the United States Agency for International Development.
"As he described his job," says correspondent Ben Lynfield, "it makes the West Bank look like a piece of cake. He'll be traveling around Iraq in US military helicopters under armed escort showing journalists USAID projects."
Our gratitude goes out to Samir for his fine work, and he has our best wishes in his new job.
David Clark Scott