Reporters on the Job

Unwelcome Attention: Staff writer Peter Ford had just arrived in the Paris suburb of Clichy-sous-Bois on Wednesday evening when he was approached by another journalist. "Excuse me, but when do the riots begin?" he was asked. This ghoulish approach has earned reporters a good deal of enmity in the Paris suburbs hit by violence on recent nights. Two TV vans have been burned. Residents have complained that French television has not explained why the violence broke out. "Outside a mosque I spotted a couple of youths in hooded sweatshirts who might be interview candidates," says Peter, "so I approached them. But when I got close, I noticed one of them was holding a film cassette, and that a television cameraman was driving away from the scene fast. The young man had clearly just 'confiscated' the cameraman's film. I surmised that my questions might not be welcome. I went to talk to the mosque's president instead."

Outside the Beltway: One of the benefits for a Washington-based writer in getting outside the country is to be reminded of just how the rest of the world sees the US. "America's burden is to be the only superpower, and there's a widely held view that whatever is wrong with the world must be the fault of the US," says staff writer Howard LaFranchi, in Argentina to cover President Bush's visit. In reporting today's story, Howard chatted with a newspaper vendor in Buenos Aires. "As I said goodbye, José ended our conversation with a curious line: 'Have a good time and a safe return, but please don't castigate us further.'

"Many Argentines blame the US for an economic collapse they endured in 2002. But José's odd goodbye and his other comments reflect the perception that Bush has unlimited power and is mostly using it to the world's detriment," says Howard.

David Clark Scott
World editor

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