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Reporters on the Job

Where Were You? Staff writer Peter Ford spent Monday evening in the troubled Paris suburb of Grigny, where the community is engaged in their own patrols to stop vandalism. He began with a visit to the mosque during evening prayer, then he went out with Muslim teens doing their own street patrols. He spent the rest of the night visiting several schools and a cultural center before leaving around 1 a.m. In every location, Peter found himself the target of a multi-pronged criticism of press ethics that he sometimes found difficult to rebut.

"People were furious that journalists only visit places like Grigny when something bad happens, and then paint a negative picture of the place," he says. "They wanted to know where my colleagues and I had been for the past few years, when neighborhood groups have been working hard to keep the peace, but nobody thought it worthwhile to tell that story. And I didn't have a very convincing response."

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The imam of Grigny's mosque told Peter he was making a list of the inaccurate, misleading or insulting references to Grigny, and especially to its Muslim population, that he comes across in the media. It is a long list, he said.

Direct to Baghdad: Some things are changing for the better in Iraq, says staff writer Scott Peterson. For example, there are direct flights to Baghdad from somewhere other than Amman, Jordan.

When Scott started going to the Iraqi capital regularly in the late 1990s, the only way in was a long, 10- or 12-hour drive on the highway across the desert from Jordan, where Scott was based.

Later after the war, the insurgency made that highway too dangerous to travel, so journalists began to fly from Amman. But Scott was based in Moscow, so there was always a two-day "buffer" built-in on the way, to gather notes and contacts, and brace for the rigors and stress of working in Iraq.

Recently, Iraqi Airways has began operating direct flights between more and more cities in the Middle East, including Istanbul, Scott's new base.

"There is something surreal about waking up in the morning at home, and helping get the kids off to school, before hopping on a direct flight to Baghdad," says Scott. "It requires a different kind of mental twist."

David Clark Scott
World editor


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