Reporters on the job

NO-NAME SUPPORTERS: In a small way, the Monitor's Cameron Barr came to understand the strangeness of the Iranian political system this weekend, during one of his voice-of-the-people interviews (page 7). "This guy happened to be a civil servant, and was an unabashed supporter of President Mohamad Khatami," says Cameron. He understood the president's limitations and was supportive of his intentions. But the civil servant wouldn't give Cameron his name. "Wow, I thought, that's the first time I've ever talked to a government official who had nothing but good things to say about his president and still didn't want his name in the paper. And that's when it sank in that only part of the power in Iran is in the hands of the president. The people who can do bad things to you - the security forces, the paramilitary groups, etc. - report to someone else."

WAITING FOR A VERDICT: If there's any glamour in covering a genocide trial, the Monitor's Peter Ford was having trouble seeing it as the clock wound past midnight in Brussels (page 1). "It took more than 12 hours for the jury to reach a verdict. I didn't want to lose my seat in the courtroom. So, I read the rather lengthy text of the allegations, and lots of magazines." But Belgian jurors don't have it much better. "Once the deliberations begin, it's rare for the court to allow jurors to take a break," says Peter. "In this case, they sent in food and cots." Peter settled for a snooze in a stiff-backed chair.

THIS IS NOT LAS VEGAS: Today's story from South Africa gave reporter Nicole Itano a whole new appreciation for traditional weddings (page 1). Six months before tying the knot, she says, there's a traditional engagement party, known as the mahlabiso. The two families meet to slaughter and dine on goat. And she notes, "If you do it according to tradition, all the negotiations and ceremonies take about 1 1/2 years to complete."

(c) Copyright 2001. The Christian Science Monitor

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