Reporters on the Job

Careful in Nuevo Laredo: As a journalist writing about death threats to journalists, staff writer Sara Miller Llana had a certain amount of trepidation showing up in Nuevo Laredo, Mexico (see story).

"When I arrived I wondered if I should tell the taxi driver my profession, but it didn't come up. Colleagues urged me not to go to the El Mañana newspaper office, which had been attacked a little more than a year earlier. But one thing that remains true for me in this job is that a place always seems scarier before you get there," says Sara. "That was true in the aftermath of hurricane Katrina, or in the favelas in Rio, or most places I've been. Once you arrive you realize that while threats are real, the possibility that something would actually happen is more of an anomaly than the norm."

When she arrived at El Mañana, she expected massive security, or to be told to leave. But they were quite open. "You could sense the stress the journalists there are under, though," she says. "As a local paper, their bread-and-butter is local news, and drugs is arguably their biggest local story. Doing this story made me realize that as a foreign journalist, don't face the same threat. As a source said in my piece, it's the local investigative stories on corruption that are angering drug groups."

Expect the Expected? A few weeks before Monday's election in Egypt (see story), foreign reporters in Cairo started getting calls from the government's State Information Service: "Could you please come down for a briefing on the new electoral laws? Will you definitely be there?"

Staff writer Dan Murphy was surprised by the unusual persistence. "I was called several times to confirm my presence. "At the briefing, several Egyptian officials said they'd been doing a bad job communicating with the press, and they thought Egypt's political changes were being unfairly criticized. Dan remained skeptical but left expecting Monday's vote to be better run than elections past. It wasn't.

– David Clark Scott
World editor

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