Reporters on the Job

The Death of a Colleague: Reporting on the death of anyone can be difficult. Thursday, as correspondent Nicholas Blanford arrived home, a neighbor ran up to ask if he'd heard the news: Samir Kassir, a friend and colleague, had been killed in a car bombing (this page). "He was a very prominent, well-respected and well-liked journalist here. I'm deeply stunned and deeply upset at his death. Some reporters were in tears at the scene of the bombing and news anchors on television have also been teary-eyed," says Nick.

"I was in contact with Samir quite regularly and had quoted him several times in recent months for the Monitor. When I returned from the scene of the car bombing, I checked some of his comments in past Monitor articles. One of them was particularly chilling in light of his death," says Nick.

In the April 27 article "With Syria out, Lebanon clout grows" written the day the last Syrian troops left, Nick had asked Samir if he thought there were any Syrian intelligence agents still operating in Lebanon undercover. He replied that it no longer mattered if there were because they were essentially powerless. "He told me, 'They can't detain people, they can't torture people, they can't kidnap people. They could do some sabotage but nothing more.' "

More pressure ? Staff writer Robert Marquand writes today about the arrest of a Hong Kong journalist on espionage charges (page 1). Bob notes that either because of greater awareness or an actual increase in instances, journalists are reporting more harassment. For example, the Chinese assistant to a correspondent in Beijing was invited by security officials to coffee, and asked what stories the reporter was working on. Two journalists who investigated riots in the countryside were prevented by police from phoning their editors or traveling further - by keeping them in a restaurant incommunicado. The Chinese assistant to an Italian journalist was recently beaten in a market where he was taking notes about knock-off products.

David Clark Scott
World editor

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