Reporters on the Job

• DIFFERENT RECEPTIONS: While working on today's story about supporters of Zimbabwe's President Robert Mugabe (page 7), Nicole Itano was struck by the different attitudes of voters. "At the Mugabe rallies, his supporters didn't seem happy to be there. There was no cheering. Whereas at the rallies for [Morgan] Tsvangirai, people were shouting slogans, raising their hands in the MDC salute. There was a feeling of excitement," says Nicole.

She also noticed the difference in attitudes toward foreign reporters. "The MDC people come up and thank us for being here. They say that these rallies couldn't be held without international intervention." But when Nicole visited a health clinic, where a group of women were holding a rally for Mugabe supporters, they were met by a man who tried to stop them from entering. When she showed her press credentials, she was allowed to pass. But moments later, the party official told Nicole that she couldn't interview any of the women because they didn't speak English. "I knew this wasn't true, because I'd been chatting informally with some of them. In fact, one woman he wouldn't let us talk to had a PhD in international marketing from a British university."

• FORTRESS LIFE: For today's story about the Occidental Petroleum pipeline in Colombia (this page), reporter Martin Hodgson visited the company's fortified compound - which has been the target of truck bombs and mortar attacks. Employees live in Bogotá and are flown in by helicopter for one- or two-week shifts. The guide who showed Martin the plant had been kidnapped once by rebels, and was rescued after a dramatic raid and gunfight by police.

"On the bright side, once in their compound in Arauca, Colombia, employees get all the amenities of a resort: pools, cantinas, gyms, tennis courts. They just can't leave. One guy said, 'It looks great, but we are locked up here.' "

David Clark Scott
World editor

Cultural snapshot

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