Reporters on the Job
• Web Traffic Jam in China: The technical details of the Chinese government's Internet filtering system escape staff writer Peter Ford, "but whatever they do they are doing it in spades at the moment", he says.
China's censors, aka "Net Nannies," use software to sift zillions of gigabytes of information in search of such national-security-threatening words as "Dalai Lama"
The result, says Peter, is that Internet users all over the country have found their connections have slowed to a crawl. Their e-mail accounts are locked solid for days, and all sorts of websites are inaccessible.
"I think I shall make up a song titled "This Page Cannot Be Displayed," says Peter. "Certainly I have enough time to compose the music and lyrics while waiting for Web pages to come up."
• Permission to Embed, Sir? When Pentagon staff writer Gordon Lubold arrived with photographer Andy Nelson to embed with NATO forces in Afghanistan (see story), the pair came face to face with the confusing reality of multiple forces from different nations working in one place.
Unlike Iraq, which has one senior command, Gordon had to work through a maze of military commands, some US, some NATO, all with different requirements for how to apply for an embed slot. He soon learned that it's not enough to register with the local NATO command. His request to embed with a country-specific military means contacting that country's ministry of defense for approval.
After several days, and lots of help from people on the ground there, Gordon and Andy got approval to embed in southern Afghanistan. Now, they just have to deal with what every grunt faces: a game of playing "hurry up and wait" as planes and helicopter schedules get changed, canceled, and rescheduled. "You get a good feel for what the military goes through every day," says Gordon.
– David Clark Scott