Reporters on the Job

Avoiding the Interview: Normally, reporters are eager to secure an interview. But staff writer Abraham McLaughlin was avoiding this one. He'd spent the day with Jeannette Nyirabaganwa, a Rwandan coffee-bean farmer. She'd showed him her crop and the cooperative, and they'd met family members. She'd even taken Abe and photographer Melanie Stetson Freeman to her farm to meet the man she says helped kill her husband during the 1994 genocide.

But to write her story, "I needed to know what had happened during those three months of killing. Maybe other reporters feel more comfortable about this kind of thing. But the prospect of prying into the most terrible 90 days of one woman's life – ostensibly a time she's trying to forget – made me feel slimy," says Abe.

"But without the information, it simply wasn't a complete story. So we went into a small private room at a local cafe and headed into the conversation. As she slowly and matter-of-factly began the retelling, I was amazed at her quiet composure," he says.

"During the 1-1/2 hour session she never cried, although her voice wavered a bit during the tough parts. It was such a contrast to the kind of weepy, tell-all interviews common on American TV. It seemed to me one sign of how much she had moved past the memories of the violence. And, as she said, it was indicative of how she is refusing to allow the events of 1994 to dominate her life. She was refusing to continue being a victim," he says.

David Clark Scott
World editor

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