Reporters on the Job

COME ON OVER: There are few "embedded" journalists traveling with the US military in Iraq these days, says the Monitor's Scott Peterson. But he is on the military's press list - one of many e-mail lists that alert journalists in Iraq to events of the UN, the provisional authority, and relief workers.

One 3rd Infantry Division press officer in Fallujah was especially persistent: "You're welcome to come see what's happening in Fallujah firsthand, stay a day or overnight," the press release read.

"I don't think I have ever received such an invite from soldiers who thought they had a good story to tell, but felt isolated in their outpost," Scott says. He arrived, was swiftly issued a temporary "embedded" pass, and found himself working all night and the next day, on patrol, to see it all firsthand.

FEATHERS IN THEIR CAPS: The village in Cameroon, where Andreas Tzortzis reported Monday's story on traditional healers helping to fight AIDS, is remote. So Andreas wasn't surprised that he and US medical student Joe Becker were the main attraction on their visit. What startled him was how quickly he gained the star status that Joe already had.

"The first time Joe went, they gave him a traditional robe and a cap. Joe had one feather for his cap and was hoping to get another," Andreas says.

"At the end of our visit, they had this ceremony and gave me a cap - an honor. I didn't expect a feather as well. But they wanted us to stay, so they gave us a feather - sort of like handing out candy to kids. I got a feather before my time. Joe was pretty jealous - though he did get another feather, a red one, this time."

One healer made sure Andreas understood the moment. "He gave it to me, put his hand on my shoulder, and asked me solemnly if I knew how lucky I was."

Amelia Newcomb
Deputy world editor

Cultural snapshot
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