Reporters on the Job

NO MORE WRINKLES: Having grown up in the United States, reporter Nicole Itano was used to hauling her clothes to the laundromat and shaking out the wrinkles as best she could. But when she first moved to South Africa at the beginning of the year, the apartment she rented came with a maid. Asking around, Nicole discovered that it's common for domestic servants to insist on staying with one property, even as renters and homeowners come and go. Once a week, a woman named Agnus came to wash and iron her laundry, mop her floors, and change her sheets. It was a luxury that took a little getting used to.

"I think she thought I was quite the eccentric American when I made her breakfast the first time she arrived," says Nicole.

In doing research for her story about a government proposal to set a minimum wage for domestic workers, she learned she was paying far above the going rate (this page). "But she's worth every cent," says Nicole. "I've never lived in such a spotless apartment."

UNDER YOUR NOSE: Talking to your taxi driver is a reporter's oldest trick. But the Monitor's Scott Baldauf had been so busy talking to Muslim clerics, political scientists, and experts on Sufism that he simply forgot to try. "Finally, after I had asked to be taken to one Sufi shrine after another in Kashmir, my driver Bashir Ahmed Babloo piped up. "You are doing a story on Sufis?" he asked. "They helped me find my brother." Bashir's story became a key piece of today's article (this page). "Sometimes the best sources really are right under your nose," says Scott.


PIRATES ON THE WEB: "Snatch," a gangster movie, is the most pirated film on the Internet. The film was downloaded onto a million computers worldwide in June, according to Mediaforce, an anti-piracy research company. Also in the top 10 of Web-pirated movies: "Lara Croft: Tomb Raider," "Shrek," and "Pearl Harbor."

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