Reporters on the job

• MALE RITES, FEMALE REPORTER: Your gender might be an issue, reporter Nicole Itano was warned by her South African guides.

She was planning to visit a school in the mountains for her story about traditional male rites of passage (page 7). But workers for a local emergency medical unit, who were monitoring the conditions at the school, told Nicole that a week earlier, teachers at the school had refused to let a woman reporter from a local TV station in, on the grounds that what happened there was not for female eyes.

When Nicole arrived, however, camp leaders weren't overtly against her presence. "They still tried to dissuade me by saying that the walk was really far and that as a woman, I might not make it," says Nicole. "Although I wasn't exactly dressed for climbing mountains, I wasn't about to let them use that as an excuse."

• DOLLAR DAZE: Reporter Arie Farnam didn't have to look any further than her own bank account to understand the implications of the fall of the US dollar (page 1).

"The enduring might of the dollar was one of those things we Americans just count on. My Czech husband and I were planning to build the foundations of our new house this fall. We put all our savings in dollars, believing that it was risky to put it in some local currency here in Eastern Europe. Last winter, when the dollar lost 15 percent of its value against the Czech koruna, I considered pulling out, but I thought it was just the aftereffects of Sept. 11 and that it would pass.

"Now, we have lost a full 25 percent of our savings over the past year. I'm not a financial genius, but I do know that our house will cost more to build. No doubt, we will survive somehow [perhaps with a raise from a generous editor?]. Russians and Argentines are surviving, and their currencies have done much worse than the dollar, so far," says Arie.

David Clark Scott
World editor

Cultural snapshot
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