Reporters on the Job
ACCESS DENIED: Sometimes one of the most difficult parts of reporting is following in the footsteps of a colleague who has angered sources. Correspondent Scott Peterson was reminded of this while trying to arrange a visit to military bases that house US forces in Saudi Arabia (this page). Scott had visited the Prince Sultan Airbase in 1997. On this trip, the Saudi Ministry of Defense gladly approved another visit. But aware of greater sensitivities in the aftermath of 9/11, Scott made his initial request for a visit through the US central command in Tampa, Fla. But the US military public affairs officer in Saudi Arabia told Scott that "The generals do not think that this is a good opportunity at this time."
Scott then tried to visit the Eskan Village, near Riyadh. The US public affairs officer there sounded more hopeful about a visit and he described their work there in glowing terms. But again, Scott was denied access. "The US top brass were still livid because their mission had been misrepresented by the most recent visiting journalists, who portrayed conditions on the base as too luxurious," he says.
A DIFFERENT PERSPECTIVE: The Monitor's Howard LaFranchi was walking to an appointment in Colombia's capital city on a street that has recently been turned into a pleasant pedestrian walkway with cascading pools. "I started thinking, too, of Bogotá's new rapid-transit system, and the Gold Museum, one of my favorite museums in the world. I was feeling very positive about what Colombians were accomplishing in the midst of a civil war."
And then, a woman passing by brought him back to earth. "She asked why I was walking on such 'dangerous streets' alone. She thought I was a naive tourist. I thanked her for her concern, reassured her that I knew the city well, and told her what I'd been thinking. Her whole demeanor changed."