Reporters on the Job
• Undercover Migrant: As he was reporting today's piece about the lives of migrant factory workers in China (page 8), staff writer Robert Marquand made contact with a young person who regularly goes into the big cities of south China, posing as a migrant. As the undercover researcher described the migrants' work, Bob was reminded of John Howard Griffin, a white journalist who traveled the American South in the 1950s using cosmetics to look like an African American. He wrote about his experiences in the book "Black Like Me." Bob says that his "Migrant Like Me" researcher looked for "Help Wanted" signs outside the gates of Pearl River factories. Typically, the researcher would get a job interview, spending about an hour at each place. In one small factory, the writer saw more than 40 migrants packed in a crowded space, earning just 300 yuan ($40) a month - about half the wages elsewhere. The job interview would often end, however, when the writer turned down the vocational aptitude test - an exam to see if the writer could sew or assemble. After five challenging days of reporting in Fujian factory towns, Bob credits this researcher with providing valuable context for his story.
• Police Escort: Monitor staffer Scott Peterson says the Iraqi police couldn't have been more helpful - or noisier - in assisting him in getting photos for today's story (this page). "Traffic was heavy, but the police chief's car put its emergency lights on, and its ear-splitting siren - even though the car was stuck in the traffic." The noise didn't stop when Scott jumped out of his car to photograph the traffic cops trying to sort out the mess - by blowing on their whistles.
David Clark Scott