Reporters on the Job

VISITING A LADY MONK: As a British journalist, Simon Montlake initially thought there would be parallels between the story about a female monk in Thailand (page 7), and the furor over the ordination of women as bishops in the Anglican church more than decade ago. "There were some parallels but the context is different in Thailand. It's not a crisis, it's not the same," he says.

Still, he found meeting the only female head of a Buddhist temple in Thailand "fascinating." "She's the third generation of women in her family to choose this path. She is a mother of two and was a theology scholar before becoming a Buddhist monk. Because her mother and grandmother also were monks, she was familiar with the challenges.

"As a Western journalist, it was tempting to paint her as this lone figure fighting for freedom against a conservative male institution, but she didn't characterize it that way. She said her discussions with the Buddhist elders on the ordination of women were 'full of kindness.' "

SECURITY FIRST: With nearly 30 years of dictatorship peeling away, stories abound in Baghdad these days (page 1), says correspondent Scott Peterson. But getting to the stories is getting harder. American troops now occupy the Palestine Hotel, where Scott and many other journalists live. A few days ago, US forces loosely controlled entrances. Then, they put down razor-wire at the entrances; a day later journalists at the hotel could enter and exit only at certain points. By Wednesday, the perimeter had extended 100 yards in every direction, causing chaos - and hours of delay - as journalists tried to find their Iraqi interpreters and drivers.

"Now we all have to line up for pat-down searches, and enter the entire complex at only one point," Scott says. He understands why the troops moved in; the Palestine Hotel wasn't looted. But "I wish the security procedures for reporters weren't so time-consuming."

David Clark Scott
World editor

Cultural snapshot
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