Reporters on the Job
• Location, Location, Location: Reporters soon learn that being in the right place at the right time is critical.
Staff writer Scott Baldauf was recently in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, trying to get in touch with businessmen who buy and sell huge quantities of wheat, maize, and other agricultural products. Ethiopia grows far more food than its neighbors, but most of it doesn't reach the market (see story).
"All the phone numbers I'm calling are busy, all the time. That's what you would expect from men who buy and sell huge quantities of food. They're busy," Scott notes.
But one day, he catches a break while sitting in a cafe at the Addis Ababa Hilton. ("I couldn't afford a room, only a table at the cafe," he says.)
"Between interviews, my translator Kaleyesus (which means 'word of Jesus') overhears a conversation between two businessmen. He leans over to me. 'I think we have found the men you are looking for,' he says. He had just overheard them sealing a deal for a large shipment of Ethiopian sesame seeds to Dubai.
"I craned my neck to make eye contact, and asked them if they might have time, after their business, to talk with a reporter about the agricultural business. Thankfully, they agreed."
• A Reappearing Theme: The disturbing trend of death-squad killings in the Philippines was part of a 2005 story by correspondent Simon Montlake about a sugar-mill strike and alleged communist infiltration. "On that trip," he says, "I was intrigued that in the Philippines this ideology still resonates in rural areas, while nominally communist nations in Asia – China, Vietnam – have long ago turned capitalist. I also got a strong sense of how the military sees legal organizations as fronts for rebels and the lack of protection for anyone tagged as a communist."
David Clark Scott