Reporters on the Job

PLAYING COPS: The Monitor's Scott Peterson spent a day out on the streets of St. Petersburg with the druzhinniki, reporting and shooting photos

But one man vehemently objected to Scott's picture-taking. The patrols had stopped a passerby, "a Caucasian man - dark, with a moustache - who was pushing a dolly piled with three or four used cardboard boxes," Scott says. As the patrols checked the man's documents, Scott started snapping photos. "The man started screaming at the patrols and me, and waving his arms frantically," Scott says. The patrols explained that the man said he'd had his picture taken before, and that "nothing good ever came of it."

Property vs. politics: For today's story on the Syrian troop withdrawal from Beirut, reporter Nick Blanford wanted to lead his piece with dramatic reaction. He thought someone who had lived next door to the troops might provide the telling anecdote.

But he found two surprising retorts: One man didn't even realize the Syrian troops had left - he said they were so quiet and unassuming.

Next, Nick tramped around one house that sits next to the Syrian officers' headquarters. Before the Syrians arrived, the building was "a grandiose, seafront apartment building owned by a French woman," Nick says. "She became very upset when the Syrians moved in, because it meant she couldn't sell the building. It became increasingly rundown, and she eventually sold it to the American University in Beirut."

A man walking nearby told Nick that the best thing about the Syrians leaving had nothing to do with politics; the property prices would inevitably rise.

(c) Copyright 2001. The Christian Science Monitor

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