Reporters on the Job
• Bread Barometer: Staff writer Scott Baldauf says that when he first got to South Africa, people used to illustrate how bad Zimbabwe's inflation rate had become by stating this remarkable fact: "a brick today costs what you would have spent to buy an entire house, just 10 years ago."Skip to next paragraph
Subscribe Today to the Monitor
But Scott says that comparison is "so 2006." At the time, inflation was "only" about 1,500 percent.
Today, Zimbabwe's annual rate of inflation runs about 600,000 percent. And bread, not bricks, is the barometer (see story).
"On my first trip to Zimbabwe, this past March, a loaf cost an unbelievable 10 million Zimbabwean dollars – if you could find one in the stores," he says.
"On my second trip, in April, the price had gone up to Z$50 million. Today, I called a reporter friend in Harare. The price of a loaf had gone up to 1 billion Zimbabwean dollars, which is roughly US$5 on the black market. I asked my friend if he was sure. "I just bought bread today," he laughed. "And it took me a long time to find it."
• Backyard Reporting: Most foreign correspondents posted to Israel live in Jerusalem. For them, Tel Aviv is Israel's second city, a secular refuge from the Arab-Israeli conflict where they go for a good meal but seldom do stories.
But Josh Mitnick lives in Tel Aviv. "That means that I rarely work close to home. So, today's story about gentrification in Jaffa, a district of Tel Aviv, has been a little like poking around my own backyard," he says.
"I usually go to Jaffa for its restaurants, markets, and pubs, but rarely for a story. From the stone Arab-style houses in Jaffa's Ajami neighborhood there are expansive views of the Mediterranean that are a rarity in Tel Aviv. Now there are more construction sites than I can ever remember in the neighborhood," says Josh.
– David Clark Scott