Reporters on the Job

Urdu, Please: Staff writer Scott Baldauf went to visit a journalist in Srinagar, in Indian-administered Kashmir, to learn more about a call that journalist had received claiming that there was a new Al Qaeda-linked group in the area. While he was talking to the journalist, the phone rang. "It was the spokesman for Hizbul Mujahideen, the largest Kashmir-based militant group fighting India in the state. Next thing I knew, I was asked if I'd like to talk to him."

Scott found himself trying to hold a political conversation in a mix of Urdu and English. "We quickly came to the conclusion that we should involve someone else because misquotes can cause trouble. So I handed the phone to my colleague." Scott says that, despite communication challenges, the caller was professional and friendly.

Finding Sources: Reporting in the Czech Republic seems to begin and end at the pub, Jeff White has noted. "On hot days, it's a great place to find someone," he says. In his case, he found Vladimir. "Within minutes, he offered to take us to the area that the US was scouting as a potential missile base. As we took off, he worried that his bike might be stolen. And when we returned, his bike was in fact gone. I felt really responsible and tried to apologize."

Later, Jeff saw Vladimir at another pub and talked with him and others for two hours. "At the end, I felt I should offer to pick up the tab, which led to many toasts of friendship. Then, as I left, Vladimir slapped me on my back, and pointed to a red bike. Turns out a friend of his had hidden it as a joke."

Amelia Newcomb
Deputy world editor

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