Reporters on the Job

Code of Silence: For staff writer Scott Peterson, one of the most difficult parts of reporting the Shiite Rising series (see story) was finding a Hizbullah family with fighters willing to speak openly.

Scott returned to the Lebanese village of Ait al-Shaab, which he had visited just after last summer's war, to track down a tale that he had heard: There were two Hizbullah fighters, a father and son, engaged in hand-to-hand combat with the Israelis. The son was shot dead by Israeli soldiers. Then the father killed the Israelis.

But Scott found the father's house empty. Neighbors pointed him to an auto repair shop. "I knew it was the place, because hanging over the bay of the garage was a huge Hizbullah martyr's poster with a picture of the boy on it," says Scott. But the father refused to speak to a Western reporter.

Dejected, Scott and his translator returned to the village to take photographs of the martyr's wall and asked about the families whose names appeared there. No one wanted to talk.

"Finally, by chance, someone said their neighbor had been martyred," recalls Scott. They were ushered to a home and began to hear about those who had died. But any question about Hizbullah was met with the reply: "We are not allowed to say anything about the fighting or our fighters, without authorization."

– David Clark Scott
World editor

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