Reporters on the Job

BETTER TO BE A PERSONAL TRAINER: The Monitor's Danna Harman was assisted in reporting today's story (page 7) by a local Ethiopian journalist she met in Addis Ababa. He took her around town to the little backroom operations of local newspapers.

Danna kept asking the reporters and editors, "Why do you go on when there is no profit and there are all kinds of laws against what you are doing?" They all responded the same way: "Because we have hope." But she says, her interpreter couldn't nail down what they meant by that. "Did they have hope of changing the world with their prose, or were they simply hoping to turn a profit, or were they hoping that something better would come along?

"I kept asking my friend Dagnachew to get to the bottom of this for me. But he would say, mysteriously, that they meant all of those hopes at the same time."

And a final word about being a journalist in Ethiopia. Apparently, journalists are considered the lowest of the low, says Danna. "There is one top journalist here who moonlights as a private gym instructor. When asked what his profession is, he immediately says, 'gym instructor,' never a 'journalist.' "

AFRAID TO TALK : William Boston found his reporting trip to the Finsbury Park area of London met with suspicion (page 1). "On the street, furtive eyes would follow me, yet always avoid direct contact. The patrons at the Cafe Salaam all stood up and left when I entered and started asking about the police investigation at the nearby mosque."

"People were very afraid of being lumped together with terrorists. From their perspective, I imagine that it must be like the McCarthyism of the 1950s. On the other hand, London is on edge. In the tube, every time the train stopped, someone mentioned a terrorist attack."

David Clark Scott
World editor

Cultural snapshot
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