Reporters on the Job

LOW HANGING STORIES: The Monitor's Scott Peterson, based in Baghdad, was aware that a large US military operation had been launched on Sunday morning in northern Iraq. But he couldn't get there and back in time to file. Instead, Scott stumbled across a separate US military operation: a massive weapons search of homes in the south of the capital.

He left the hotel early Monday morning to photograph a "tank graveyard" of thousands of military and civilian vehicles destroyed in the war, dragged to the southern gates of Baghdad by US forces. He wanted to get there before the number of looters reached a dangerous critical mass, and to shoot in the early morning light. On the way there, he found today's story .

"I knew the US troops were up to something major," Scott says. "They had sealed off all entrances to entire neighborhoods, were searching cars - and then there was the telltale sign: helicopters, circling menacingly like birds of prey." In Iraq, he concludes, "stories spring eternal."

I TAKE A MEN'S SMALL: Reporter Rachel Van Dongen went to speak to the 10 mayors operating out of the governor's office in the Tolima Province. The mayors can't govern from their towns because the leftist guerrillas have issued a blanket death threat to all municipal leaders .

When Rachel got there, the national government had just sent the mayors a supply of bullet-proof vests. Two refused to wear the protection. "If you don't want it, I'll take one," Rachel quipped, only half-kidding. Later, as she traveled to visit one of the mayors still working in the countryside, it was the governor's press assistant's turn to joke. "I'm sitting between a mayor with a death threat hanging over him and a foreign journalist. I don't need this kind of escort," he told Rachel.

David Clark Scott
World editor

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