Reporters on the Job

An Interpreter's Help: When staff writer Ilene Prusher was reporting on electricity shortages in late December, she was working with Allan Enwiyah, the Iraqi translator who was murdered on Jan. 7 during the abduction of reporter Jill Carroll. "Thinking about how I went about the story, I am reminded of how much we depend on the talents and dedication of our Iraqi staff, and how Allan in particular worked hard to try to get us what we needed to write our stories."

One thing Ilene had wanted for the story was an interview with the minister of electricity, or one of his deputies. "Allan told me to provide him with a letter requesting the interview, and I did. Later that day, Allan came back telling me that gunmen outside the ministry building chased him off; they wouldn't even accept the letter and he gave up."

Allan, however, kept trying to help Ilene report the story. "He arranged for me to meet a friend of his who was an engineer at a plant that kept being sabotaged by insurgents. As we investigated a related story on gasoline price hikes and long gas lines, Allan agreed to interview some of the people as they waited in lines. It's the kind of simple, 'man-on-the-street' reporting I would have liked to do myself."

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When they ran up against problems in getting the interviews Ilene wanted, Allan would usually just blow it off and laugh, Ilene says. "But he was deeply unhappy about the direction the country was headed in, and he said he believed it wasn't worth the effort to try to change things for the better. He told me on election day, Dec. 15th, that he would eventually leave for America or Europe, like the rest of his friends. I remember arguing with him: Iraq needed smart, well-educated, forward-thinking people like him for the future of the country. His scrunched up his face as if I didn't understand. 'Maybe for my kids,' he shrugged, 'but my life is already over.' "

Amelia Newcomb
Deputy world editor

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