• A $1,700 Press Card? To do his reporting for today's story about the Zimbabwe elections, staff writer Scott Baldauf entered Zimbabwe as a tourist. It's a move that carries a certain amount of risk of arrest, but is something that has become increasingly common for foreign journalists. Zimbabwe has not been granting visas to foreign correspondents.
Just before Scott left for Zimbabwe, the government announced that it would charge foreign journalists a whopping $1,700 fee for accreditation and said the accreditation process would be strenuous. He figured he'd give it a shot. Maybe the $1,700 price tag was negotiable.
"I tried multiple times to fax my accreditation form to the Zimbabwe government but the fax on the receiving end appeared to be turned off," he says.
Later it was reported that the Zimbabwe government has no intention of accrediting journalists who come from "hostile" Western countries such as the US and Britain, or journalists who have covered Iraq or Afghanistan.
Commenting on the flood of visa requests by journalists, Information Ministry spokesman George Charamba told Zimbabwe's state-owned newspaper Sunday Mail, "It is as if Zimbabwe is a war about to start."
Given the preelection tensions, Scott comments, "I hope that he was joking."
– David Clark Scott
SURVEY SAYS ...
• The Upside to a Weak Dollar: The US leapfrogged France, Britain, and other European countries as a cheaper place to do business. A study by KPMG, a consulting firm, shows that thanks to the weak dollar, the US moved to No. 3 on the list of most cost-efficient places around the world. Researchers compared 136 cities in 10 countries in North America, Europe, and Asia (except China). Mexico and Canada were No. 1 and No. 2, respectively, the Associated Press reported.