Reporters on the Job

A STORY ON EVERY CORNER: In a city as chaotic as Baghdad, the situation changes by the hour and you never know what you will find round the next bend in the road. For the Monitor's Peter Ford, that translates into a convenient reality: It does not matter if you wake up with no idea what story you will have to file to your editors in eight hours' time.

Peter had intended to write about unexploded ordnance on Monday, but could not find the unexploded cluster bombs rumored to be littering the Al Doura district. No matter: He happened to be outside the power station there when a man drove up to return looted goods. The reformed looter was acting on the orders of a local imam. So Peter drove to the nearest mosque and found another aspect of life in postwar Iraq to report.

REEDUCATION TAKES TIME: Contributor David Buchbinder went to Venezuela's state-run oil company recently to report on high-minded efforts to give its elite corporate culture a more populist flair (page 1). During his visit, not surprisingly, he was given a grand tour of the company's facilities. Then he and his hosts headed out to lunch at one of Caracas's finest restaurants.

It was a bit surprising to a reporter who expected something more on the lines of an arepa, a corn bun filled with meat or black beans that is Venezuela's answer to the tuna-fish sandwich. "It was the best meal I ever had in my life," says David, who dined with three company employees. The food, service, and atmosphere were without compare - but David found the VIP treatment at odds with the corporation's stated goals of helping the poor.

"I estimate the cost of lunch, depending on the prices on the spot market that day, at around three or four barrels of oil," he says.

Amelia Newcomb
Deputy world editor

Cultural snapshot
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