Reporters on the Job

ON THE RUN: The Monitor's Ilene Prusher was interviewing students outside the Indonesian presidential palace for today's story (this page), when suddenly a mob of hundreds of protesters was racing toward her. "I saw my interpreter, Yosef, get knocked over and nearly trampled. I immediately lost sight of him and wasn't sure if he had run away or was on the ground. I ran a few steps farther and hid behind a big tree as this mob of young men ran past."

What triggered the stampede was fear. "Some of the protesters had thrown bottles towards the police, and everyone else thought the incident was going to flare into a major clash. It didn't. But when panic takes over, people are so interested in fleeing that they don't care that they're knocking other people down. Yosef survived with just a scrape on the wrist, but it was a horrible few minutes."

Later, Ilene ran into some photographers who had covered the demonstrations in 1998 that brought down the government of Suharto. They advised her that if clashes broke out, she should be sure to be on the side of the police, and not on the student side. But that's always easier said than done. "It's the students I wanted to interview, so how can you get to talk to them without walking among them and possibly putting yourself in the line of fire?" says Ilene.

When she got back to her hotel, a notice from the US Embassy had been slipped under her hotel door. It read, in part: "We urge all Americans to keep a low profile and avoid unnecessary travel on the streets of Jakarta. In particular, areas of possible confrontation, such as the presidential palace...."

RETRO REPORTING: Nicole Itano went to the opening day of testimony by Dr. Wouter Basson, who's on trial in South Africa (page 1). "The wood-panel courtroom felt like a scene from the past, from the apartheid era," says Nicole. "It was very Afrikaans." Everyone in the courtroom - the red-robed judge, the black-robed lawyers, and audience - was white and spoke Afrikaans. The only person of color was a police inspector.

- David Clark Scott, World Editor

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