Reporters on the Job

Press Pass: Driving around Haiti's capital of Port-au-Prince with paper marked "international press" taped to the windshield gets you in just about anywhere, says staff writer Howard LaFranchi. "I was surprised when we drove up to the back gate of the prime minister's residence, where there was to be a press conference, and the Haitian guard took one look at the 'press' sign and opened wide the gates. Four Marine armored personnel carriers were stationed on the property with big guns fixed atop and manned, but here the windshield placard worked like 'open sesame.' Apparently, they don't worry about car bombs or terrorists dressed as reporters (rather slovenly, that is)," says Howard.

The sign was even an effective laissez-passer for the streets of a city under a state of emergency when Howard and his colleagues wanted to get to a restaurant late, during curfew.

But the international press signs held no sway in the terrible slums that begin just blocks from the US Embassy. "A group of us wanted to interview some Aristide supporters, but as we headed into the neighborhood people started to motion to us to leave," he says. "Up ahead we could see some street-fighting going on, and we heard shots. We then saw an armored Suburban from the US Embassy approach, only to turn around and speed back to the Embassy. We decided that if US officials couldn't go in, the international press wasn't going to try, either."

Patience Pays: It was the end of a long day for reporter Nick Blanford, after accompanying US soldiers on three separate patrols. But it had been a relatively quiet day. "I was on a rooftop with the troops scanning the streets in their night vision goggles. I was drifting off to sleep, about 15 minutes from going home, when suddenly 'RPG Man' struck - and I had the lead of my story (this page)," says Nick.

David Clark Scott
World editor

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