Reporters on the Job
• Bring Your Own Water: Covering a disaster like the tsunami often requires more planning than the normal story assignment. Where to sleep and what to eat, for example, must be considered. Nachammai Raman's story today about three faiths working together in Nagapattinam, India (page 11), required her to haul her own food and water. "I'd been warned that there wasn't much food, and the water may not be safe. So, I carried a backpack with my own water and food. I brought a kind of rice dumpling and rice with tamarind, which is acidic so acts as a natural preservative," she says.
When she arrived, she stopped by the offices of a local aid organization. Even there, "they were getting through the day on nothing but cookies. Of course, I felt guilty that I hadn't brought more food," Nachammai says.
During her 8-1/2 hour bus ride, mostly along the coastal highway from Madras (also known as Chennai), she noted that there was white dust on the road. "After burying the dead, the roads were covered with bleaching powder to disinfect them," she notes.
She didn't stay overnight because all the hotels were packed with locals made homeless. She reported all day, then took an overnight bus back to Madras. Similarly, many of the government officials and aid workers are not staying in coastal towns. They've moved their operations inland.
• Persistence Pays: Correspondent Ben Lynfield wasn't making much progress on today's story about Israeli officers going into Israeli high schools (this page). After more than a week of delays, "I began to suspect this subject was something the authorities would prefer not be covered," says Ben.
It was easy to get critics of the program but the crucial input from those organizing the program was missing.
When the students protested last Tuesday, Ben saw that as a good news peg, and called the Israeli army spokesman for comment. This time, he was told it would be another two weeks before the officer in charge of the program would be available.
"That's a long time the world of daily journalism and definitely too long to hold the article. I told them I had a deadline the following morning, submitted a list of questions, and asked that they answer them even without the interview with Zeev Sharony, the officer in charge. A few hours later, Maj. Moshik Aviv, another officer in charge of the program called me, and he patiently answered all my questions."
David Clark Scott