Â• WALK THIS WAY: The Monitor's Scott Baldauf has walked through enough battlefields to keep his eyes peeled for landmines or unexploded ordnance. But while working on today's story about a drought in southern India (page 8), Scott learned about another hazard.
"I'm following a farmer out into the rice paddies, walking along a narrow ridge of dirt between two flooded fields," says Scott. "Our goal is to talk to a group of farmworkers who are busily planting rice stalks. But first we must climb up and over a small mound of dirt that appears to be an animal dwelling. Following the farmer on top of the mound, I ask him if this is the home of rats. 'Nope,' the farmer replies, walking on. 'Cobras.'
"At this point, my life turns into a Buster Keaton movie. I begin to lose my balance, flapping my arms as if atop some precipice. 'Watch your step,' the farmer says, helpfully. When we reach the farmworkers, they are all smiling."
Â• GASP: A REPORTER! To report the story about Israelis coping with the loss of children to a suicide bombing (page 1), the Monitor's Ilene Prusher needed more than a day. The retreat she writes about lasted for three days. She needed at least two, and she was right. "The first day I was working with a photographer and everyone was just arriving. It was too soon for people to open up. The second day made a big difference in the quality of the story," she says.
One indication came during a therapy session with several families. "One of the participants said, 'Maybe we should ask the reporter,' and a couple of people gasped: 'There's a reporter here?' Apparently some had not been notified of my presence. But later one of them complimented me. 'You were so unobtrusive that I thought you were one of the therapists, not a member of the media.' "
David Clark Scott