Reporters on the Job

A Door Opens: The extent to which Beijing's real estate developers and local government officials work hand in glove (and share the proceeds, critics charge) was aptly illustrated to staff writer Peter Ford as he reported his story on the destruction of one of the Chinese capital's ancient hutong neighborhoods (see story). Ninety families are being evicted for the project.

When Peter wanted to interview the vice president of the Chinese real estate company about the plans, Peter was told that he had to get permission from the district government press office to speak to the vice president. He got the go-ahead and was impressed "that the developer talked to us at all", says Peter. "He has been demonized in the Chinese press. Most Chinese businessmen in his situation would simply have battened down the hatches. Bai Hua's readiness to answer journalists' questions perhaps heralds a new and more constructive approach to handling the press on the part of some entrepreneurs."

Where Women Rule: As correspondent Lisa Abend was reporting today's story about gender parity in Spain's local elections (see story), she recalled the fishing village of Tossa de Mar, run by women. "I was in Tossa about a decade ago, when I was working for the travel guidebook 'Let's Go.' It's a beautiful place, with a ruined fortress jutting out over the ocean." Lisa phoned the village to find out how the new gender law was affecting the town. Since women in Spain got the right to hold public office in 1979, women have run Tossa because the men tend to be away at sea – often as far away as Cuba and the Puerto Rico. But the gender equity law wasn't particularly welcome there. "I got the feeling that María Teresa Moré didn't think much of men's administrative abilities. 'Let's just say that the men of Tossa have always preferred to be less involved in things,' she told me."

– David Clark Scott
World editor

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