Reporters on the Job

• HOSTILE TERRITORY: Journalists were warned, for their own safety, not to attend Sunday's memorial service in Hebron for an Israeli settler killed last week. And many did stay away. When reporter Ben Lynfield went to the settlement yesterday (page 7), the suspicion was still evident.

"The community has appointed certain members to talk to the press. And I did speak to one of their spokesmen," says Ben. "But I wanted to hear from others. I approached one settler and asked if I might ask him a couple of questions. 'No. I don't speak to the press,' he told me. Then I asked him for directions to the house of the rabbi who was a founder of the settlement. 'If I tell you, you'll make something up about me in the paper.' That's the level of suspicion and distrust - he wouldn't even give me directions. In a way, I can understand it. In all my years here, I've never seen a positive article in the local press about this settlement."

• INACCESSIBLE: Reporter Dan Murphy went through the motions of applying for an interview with Indonesian President Megawati Sukarnoputri (this page). But he didn't get one. "She rarely gives interviews, and she doesn't give press conferences. Recently, 10 top members of parliament were invited for their first official visit with the president. They went with great expectations, and many questions. Instead, Megawati delivered a five-minute speech, and they were told their time was up.

"She doesn't appear to want to be in a situation where she'll have to answer hostile or difficult questions in public," says Dan.

Well, that's not entirely true. "Last week, on the anniversary of her first year in office, she went to a children's theme park, and she did take questions from the 8-year-olds in attendance," says Dan.

David Clark Scott
World editor

Cultural snapshot
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