Reporters on the job
• Six Degrees of Search Engines: Where would foreign correspondents be without the Internet – and friends? Staff writer Peter Ford wonders. Seeking an Olympic historian to give him some perspective on the political rows brewing over the Beijing Olympics, Peter went online, searched the words "Olympic historian," and found a likely looking source, David Wallechensky. "He is vice president of the International Society of Olympic Historians and a consultant for NBC, which meant he would be accustomed to questions from ignorant journalists," Peter says. Peter then searched "David Wallechensky" and found his British publishers, Canongate. That was a stroke of luck, Peter says. "My best friend owns and works in the building that houses Canongate in Edinburgh, and knows everyone who works there. I called him, told him what I was looking for, and waited while he walked downstairs to consult someone. He called back 10 minutes later with Wallechensky's phone number in California and his e-mail address."
• Hizbullah's PR machine: To see Hizbullah commander Imad Mughnieh's funeral, correspondent Nick Blanford traversed quite a slick public relations operation (see story.) At Hizbullah's media office, he had to show passport and press credentials, and log in with the militant group. From there, he walked to the auditorium where the funeral was being held. Once through security, he was shepherded to a press viewing area. Much of the chatter among the mourners was about whether Hizbullah leader Sheikh Hassan Nasrallah would show up. "When he appeared on the TV screens, people started cheering, but you could sense some disappointment." But, Nick says, the fact that he was speaking from hiding was soon forgotten. "When he gets into his oration, he's a tremendous speaker. It felt like he was actually there."
– Amelia Newcomb
Deputy World Editor