Reporters on the Job

BRIDGE OVER THE RIVER IBAR: Reporter Arie Farnam says that working in the Kosovo city of Mitrovica is still a nerve-racking proposition, especially if you want to get both sides of the story (this page). There is a bridge across the Ibar River right in the middle of town, but only UN vehicles are allowed to use it. People may walk across, but few ever do, saying they are afraid they would be hurt or killed on the other side. Their fear is at least somewhat justified by the gangs of thugs known as "bridge watchers" sitting in cafes with a clear view of the bridge on either side.

Nonetheless, "I did a lot of walking across the bridge alone," says Arie. "I had two interpreters in Mitrovica, one named Doni and one named Bani. Doni is Albanian and Bani is Serb. They were both friendly enough, but neither of them would even go near the bridge with me.

"My mobile phone, connected to the wider Kosovo-Albanian network, worked on the fringes of Serb enclaves such as northern Mitrovica. But I couldn't buy credit on the north (Serb) side of the bridge. At one point, Bani and I ran out of credit on the phone, trying to set up meetings with Serb leaders. He was astounded when I left him sitting in the cafe with the Serb bridge-watchers, and made my lonely way across the bridge, bought the credit, and returned to glares from the thugs and a nervous-looking Bani."

THINGS THAT GO BOOM: Dan Murphy was on his satellite phone in Baghdad talking to an editor in Boston about Iraqi attitudes (page 1) when he heard a huge explosion Monday. "It was the loudest explosion I've ever heard, including a car- bomb attack in Jakarta that blew the windows out of my house," says Dan. He investigated and found that "a guy was melting down bullet and bomb casings for the copper, which they sell for about $1 a kilo (2.2 lbs.)," he adds. "The bomb he was melting down went off."

David Clark Scott
World editor

Cultural snapshot

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