Reporters on the Job
• Sleeping in His Car: What does it take for a Western reporter to see Iran's President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad out on the hustings? Staff writer Scott Peterson found that getting official permission was hard enough. But the logistics of getting there also proved daunting (see story).
"My Farsi interpreter may never forgive me," says Scott, of the three days of nonstop travel.
The pair caught a flight from Tehran to the city of Mashad, in northeastern Iran. The arrived after midnight and immediately climbed into a taxi for the six-hour drive to the eastern city Birjand. They slept in the car, only to find upon arrival that "Mr. President" was holding no more public rallies. A day spent speaking to aides yielded permission to visit a mosque the president would visit that night for prayers. But the place was so packed – and the president was surrounded by his taller guards – that Scott, like most Iranians there, did not see Mr. Ahmadinejad.
"We did witness the extraordinary reaction of those in the mosque who just wanted to be close to him, even if they never saw him," says Scott. The next day the pair drove back to Mashad, via a presidential farm. They were exhausted after 14 hours on the move, but there were no seats on flights to Tehran available. So, they made the 10-hour drive back to the capital.
• Climate Crowd: Covering the climate talks is a bit like drinking from a fire hose, says staff writer Peter Spotts. Even delegates (10,226 from 188 countries) tell him that the two-week conference is information overload. While negotiations go on, businesses, government agencies, research labs, and other outfits hold side events from morning until night. They delve into deforestation, carbon-trading markets, adaptation strategies, and other climate topics. How does a reporter find key delegates amid the throng? "A good list of cell-phone numbers," says Pete (see story).
– David Clark Scott