Reporters on the Job
• Interpreting Your Interpreter: In reporting today's story about Afghanistan adopting some of the lessons from Iraq by working more closely with tribal leaders , staff writer Mark Sappenfield had to make some decisions about his own security.Skip to next paragraph
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"The Afghan colleague who helps me find sources, manage logistics, and translate interviews (my "fixer") and I agreed that the elders we wanted to talk to lived in an area that was too dangerous for an American to go. So we arranged to have them come to Jalalabad," says Mark.
"The morning of the interview, we were told that they had not come. Panic ensued. Talking to these tribal elders, who had supposedly driven the Taliban from the caves of Tora Bora, was the linchpin of my broader story. I mentioned this to my Afghan colleague and asked for options. I suggested that maybe we should just drive to the district. My fixer replied, "I am not scared."
Mark immediately recognized that as a red light. "His pride and dedication to duty were overcoming his reason. If you challenge an Afghan, he will rise to the challenge. But security experts all agree that people run into trouble here only when they take unnecessary chances," says Mark.
They decided not to go find the elders. As it turned out, a different set of elders from the same district eventually arrived, making a risky trip into the Afghan countryside unnecessary.
– David Clark Scott
• Two Children, Ideally: A new survey of China's first generation born under the one-child policy has found that 61 percent would, in an ideal world, have two children, Reuters reports. With the world's biggest population straining scarce land, water, and energy resources, China has enforced rules limiting family size since the 1970s.