Reporters on the Job

Shiite or Sunni? Baghdad has been a violent place for more than two years now, but when correspondent Jill Carroll returned in August, she noticed that people were more afraid than before, and most of that was based on tensions between Shiites and Sunnis.

As a result, Jill and her interpreter now call each other by Shiite names when working in a Shiite neighborhood. "The same in Sunni areas, in case we are overheard. The ethnic and religious background of our drivers and interpreters matter much more now to the people we interview," says Jill.

"One time we were picking up a Sunni man my interpreter knows who was going to take us to meet his family. After arriving at the house, he pulled my interpreter aside, gestured toward our driver and whispered 'who is this guy? You know, Sunni or Shiite?' He was reassured to be told our driver is Sunni."

But Jill has seen that fear melt. "I talked to a Sunni and Shiite from Dora for today's story while they were in the same room. They had different fears but described the same violence, and knew the same people that had been killed. When the interviews were done, they left together chatting, and then exchanged phone numbers."

Just One More: When Laura Winter arrived at the Pakistani town closest to the epicenter of Saturday's quake, she asked a group of about 10 men what had happened. "We decided a tour of the first man's wrecked home would be a more efficient way to start answering the question. As I stood there in the garden surrounded by his homeless family, another man insisted I go and see what had been his home.

Again and again the scene was repeated as the daylight faded. It was difficult for Laura to leave. "With so much pain and loss before me, I did not want to appear insensitive. Refusing to see someone's home while viewing others' seemed more than just impolite."

David Clark Scott
World editor

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