Reporters on the Job

BIRTHDAY WISHES: While working on today's story about the homeless in Japan (page 1), the Monitor's Ilene Prusher learned that one of the men she interviewed was nearing his 60th birthday. "I wished him 'Happy Birthday.' He responded that it wasn't likely to be happy." His comment stuck with Ilene. Journalists covering people in dire straits often struggle with trying to be detached, professional witnesses, and being overcome with a desire to step in and help a fellow human being. "Ethically, you're not supposed to get involved in a story, but you're also part of humanity," says Ilene. When she was done with reporting and writing the story, she gave in to her humanity. She brought the man a lunch one day. And later, she went by his refrigerator-box home and brought him a chocolate cake. "Everybody should have something special on their birthday," she says.

SOCCER STAMPEDE: Reporter Nicole Itano says the soccer tragedy in Ghana last week (this page) brought back all the memories of a similar event on April 11 in South Africa. She was having dinner with a radio reporter, who got a phone call to go to the Ellis Park stadium. "I've covered murders and accidents in New Orleans for The Times-Picayune, but that didn't prepare me for this," she says. The scale of the tragedy and the tensions were much greater. "It was a very emotional scene, with friends and family standing around victims and accusing the police of causing their deaths by spraying tear gas." Nicole says initially there were reports that a fight started in the stands after a goal was scored. It wasn't until the next day that it became clear what had actually happened. "A goal was scored. But the stampede was caused by the people outside the stadium who pushed to get in."

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