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Reporters on the Job

May 29, 2008

A man hangs an Argentine flag around a statute of Cuba's revolutionary war hero Ernesto "Che" Guevara. The bronze statue was made by an Argentine artist out of 75,000 donated keys.

Natacha Pisarenko/AP

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Different Views on the Same Story: When Peter Ford wrote his first article from the site of the Sichuan earthquake, two days after the disaster, he had a row with his editors in Boston over whether the story should lead with the devastation or the spontaneous appearance of Chinese rescue and relief volunteers.

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"I insisted that in the immediate aftermath, the scale of the destruction was the most urgent information to convey," Peter recalls. "After all, I was on the scene."

Peter's editors insisted that two days after the event, the outpouring of volunteers was a fresher development that hadn't gotten much attention.

After much back and forth, editors and reporter compromised on a lead that reflected both the challenges facing quake survivors and the hopeful response.

Two weeks later "the volunteers story has become a dominant news theme in everyone's earthquake coverage," says Peter. "I hate to say it, but maybe my editors were right. They will doubtless say they are always right; as a curmudgeonly field reporter, I prefer to think it was merely distance adding some perspective."

Gone Swimming for News: If the reporting about the court deposition given by US businessman Morris Talansky about cash he gave to Israel's Prime Minister Ehud Olmert looks remarkably similar, that's because media access to the Jerusalem court was limited. The hearings weren't broadcast on TV in Israel. A small group of foreign reporters (one from print, one from broadcast, one from a wire service) were selected to go into the courtroom. Afterward, each quickly filed a report that was available to all other foreign media outlets. "I had pool duty during President Bush's visit to Israel a few weeks ago. Access was limited then, too," says staffer Ilene Prusher.

David Clark Scott

World editor

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