Reporters on the Job

Nicky Loh/Reuters
In Taipei, demonstrators shaved their heads Wednesday to show opposition to a referendum on March 22 that asks voters whether the island should seek UN membership under the name 'Taiwan.'

Hard Act to Follow: Other foreign journalists had visited the Tasaru Girls Rescue Center in Kenya before staff writer Scott Baldauf arrived to write about this small refuge intended to protect girls from the practice of female circumcision. The girls had willingly talked with them, but not Scott. They felt betrayed and belittled when they found out the article by a recent journalist had included comments from a local politician who was in favor of the deeply rooted cultural practice.

"So I had to be very careful in how I approached this, so as not to make them feel as if I was setting them up in order to knock them down," says Scott.

Although he discovered significant local criticism of the group supporting the girls, which is seen by some as undermining cultural traditions, he had to strike a delicate balance in his conversations with both sides.

Sounds of War: Staff writer Ilene Prusher says that covering the Palestinian-Israeli conflict requires that she keep up on missile types (see story).

"A reporter should know the difference between a Qassam rocket, which is home-grown and can travel about 7 to 8 kilometers, and an imported Grad missile, which is similar to the Katyusha rocket of Hizbullah fame, and can travel distances of about 17 kilometers," she says.

Reporters also need to interpret the sounds of war. For example, she says, "people in Israel often mistake sonic booms for a missile attack. These booms are caused by an Israeli military plane flying at a speed that breaks the sound barrier; many Palestinians charge that it's done to rattle people, and having been in Gaza during a series of sonic booms, it can indeed be terrifying – one is likely to think a building next door has just been hit and is about to collapse."

David Clark Scott

World editor

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