Reporters on the Job
• TAKE ME OUT TO THE BALL GAME: Covering China's 16th People's National Congress made the Monitor's Bob Marquand think - a bit wistfully - of the fast-talking and scorekeeping so characteristic of US political gatherings. "In the US, you feel that you are inside the stadium, you smell the popcorn and see who slides into home plate." Not so in Beijing, where China-watchers are waiting for word on a major transition in leadership (page 7). "You know that this important, deliberative process is going on, but you're standing outside the stadium (the Forbidden City) and you're trying to report based on an occasional noise from the crowd."
At one point, Bob saw what looked like a several well-dressed Communist Party "players" in a fashionable shopping area. He approached them to try to get an update on the game. "They shook their heads and politely waved me away." Bob left like a rejected autograph hound.
• DEFINING 'REMOTE': The Monitor's Danna Harman once had a long-cherished dream of traveling across Africa in a four-wheel drive vehicle. But 30 bone-jarring hours in a jeep listening to bad Zambian music have shattered that fantasy. To report today's story about Africa's debate over gene-modified corn (page 12), she and photographer Andy Nelson drove to a village on the edge of a Zambian swamp, near Angola. "I didn't appreciate the meaning of remote until that trip," says Danna ruefully.
The one man in the village who has made the journey to Johannesburg is now revered. "He took his 102-year-old mother to the big city to get false teeth. It took them a month to get there, and month to get back. Along the way, he gathered folk tales, rumors, and a few facts about the gene-modified corn debate. Now people come to his little store to seek out his hard-earned wisdom of the world beyond."
David Clark Scott