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Reporters on the Job

October 4, 2007



Grace in War: As part of her reporting for today's story on the war between Sri Lanka's Tamil Tigers and government forces, correspondent Mian Ridge took a five-hour bus ride from a northern town near rebel territory to Trincomalee, a government-controlled town in the east. "It was a public bus, full of Tamils," she says. Every few kilometers, the bus was stopped by the Sri Lankan Army and searched.

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"The trip gave me some insight into what daily life is like for Tamils in this part of the country," Mian says (see story).

"Everyone, including the little old ladies, had to open their suitcases for the soldiers to inspect. Several times we all had to get out of the bus, with all of our luggage and walk through security checkpoints, including body searches. The midday heat was searing. Yet, it was remarkable how polite and courteous everyone was through the whole thing, including, most often, the soldiers. I met so many people who showed remarkable grace in the most trying conditions," she says.

Directions to the Director: Sometimes the best strategy for getting an interview is to plan ahead. Other times, just showing up on someone's doorstep works. Of course, it helps if you can find the doorstep.

Staff writer Jill Carroll had hoped to interview Tunisia's most prominent female movie director Moufida Tlatli for today's story about filmmaking in Tunisia (see story). But Ms. Tlatli has a reputation for avoiding reporters. Jill was thrilled when she got a phone call from Tlatli herself agreeing to an interview. Jill and her interpreter took a cab to Carthage. "We had her address but needed to call her to get directions to her house. Her maid answered and said she was out. We kept calling and calling every half-hour and each time the maid said Tlatli was still out." After two hours of scouring the town and knocking on doors they had to go back to Tunis to interview movie producer Dora Bouchoucha, who had produced one of Tlatli's movies. "We told her our travails. She laughed and said 'Yep, that's Moufida.' "

– David Clark Scott

World editor

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