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Reporters on the Job

November 18, 2008

THE DIRT HANDSHAKE: Two boys join hands, with soil in them, as part of the prewrestling ritual in Lahore, Pakistan. Kushti wrestling is a national sport and is several thousand years old.

Emilio Morenatti/AP

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Media Accessible Dissident: Staff writer Carol Huang thought that getting access to Woeser, a controversial Tibetan writer, might be difficult.

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"She's such a sensitive figure in Beijing and had recently been under house arrest. At first, she seemed wary of a meeting. My Chinese interpreter and fixer found her e-mail address and had to e-mail her my questions, wait for a response, then arrange to set up a phone call. Only then did she consent to a face-to-face meeting," says Carol.

When Carol arrived at Woeser's Beijing apartment, security guards were stationed outside the building. Not a good sign.

"But it soon became apparent that she was much more accessible to the media than I'd thought. We walked right past the security guard without having to show any identification. And as we walked into the lobby, we bumped into another media team, one of them lugging heavy camera equipment, on its way out."

Mystery Man Revealed: While checking into a Curaçao hotel to report on a local shipyard's use of forced labor, correspondent Colin Woodard found himself being not-so-discreetly interrogated by a mysterious American man wearing gold-rimmed glasses. "He wanted to know who I was, who I worked for, and what I was doing on the island," Colin says, "but he was really reticent about answering my own questions about who he was."

Curious, Colin did a little of his own sleuthing, and learned that the man was an agent, but not of an intelligence service. "He was the port agent of the Church of Scientology's passenger ship Freewinds, which is based on the island," says Colin. The ship, which tied up the next morning, is used as a spiritual retreat for dedicated followers. It underwent repairs at the yard earlier this year, when it was reportedly discovered to be contaminated with asbestos.

David Clark Scott

World editor

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