Reporters on the Job

IT'S ALL IN YOUR PERSPECTIVE: The Monitor's Danna Harman has reported from the Middle East and Africa. So she's had plenty of experience in looking at issues from others' point of view. Still, she was a bit taken aback at her own reaction when she sat down with an Egyptian family in their suburban Cairo home to watch news of the Iraq war on Al Jazeera, the Arab network (page 1).

"The family was lovely, and we were having a great time," Danna says. Then pictures came across the screen of dead US soldiers and prisoners of war. Danna watched as the family reacted "gleefully" to news that spurred a horrified response in her.

"I've been to Texas, and I've been to Kansas [where some of the POWs come from], and I know what their families must be feeling. I felt sad about the pictures, and these people's reaction to them - and what that said about the possibility for rebuilding relations after the war. This is such a fracturing event."

As she reports from Cairo, Danna has been struck by how people generally characterized Americans - negatively - and how she was treated as an individual. When she'd say she was an American, people immediately shushed her and said she was to report she was Finnish.

"They told me no one in Egypt speaks Finnish and so they couldn't test me on the language. Pleading Canadian citizenship was no good - everyone knows that ruse."

As for the family? "They invited me to come back. And they gave me a present: A CD of an imam explaining how the enemies of Islam will fall."

• TICKET TO RIDE: Reporter Phil Smucker and photographer Andy Nelson encountered their first bureaucratic hurdle Monday as unembedded reporters on the road to Baghdad (page 1).

"When we pulled into Marine division headquarters, north of Nasiriyah, we were detained for four hours and told we couldn't go north or south. The road south was loaded with incoming convoys, and the road north was too dangerous.

"Eventually, we linked up with a lieutenant colonel heading north, and with some heated persuasion, we convinced him to deliver us to the farthest point north of the US advance." The 30-mile trip took three hours. As a bonus, the two arrived not only safely - but just in time to file the story.

Amelia Newcomb
Deputy world editor

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