Reporters on the Job

• HOLED UP: In reporting on the deadlock between Zimbabwe's farmers and the government (this page), Nicole Itano experienced some of the tensions firsthand. She spent a day and a half with a farm family who had been barricaded inside their home by about 20 laborers demanding severance pay in case their bosses are forced to leave the country. "The workers had locked the gate around the house, and they were singing, chanting, dancing and beating drums," Nicole says.

Still, she and a colleague managed to slip out through a side gate. "But we plowed into a pile of corn cobs," Nicole recounts. "One of the cobs damaged our car, and about 9 miles down the road, we broke down." A passing motorist came to their aid.

"I never felt frightened," says Nicole. "We were never under any direct threat from the workers – they just wanted to keep everyone in the farmhouse" she says. "But once we got past the gate, they just waved at us."

• BUTLER BEAT While reporting on the training of those who serve the rich and famous (page 1), Danna Harman was struck by some similarities between butler training and her own recent training for hostile environments, which teaches journalists how to behave in difficult situations they might encounter on the job. "We spent the week talking through the possible scenarios – what to do when someone lobs a grenade at you, or if you are kidnapped at gunpoint. After completing the course, I set out to do the butler story by attending butler school. It, too, featured groups of men and women talking through these daunting scenarios and then doing role play to see how one would deal with them," Danna says. "Of course, the magnitude of the problems at hand was far different, but the theme of 'be prepared, no matter what' gave me a feeling of déjà vu."

– Margaret Henry

Europe editor

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