Reporters on the Job
• Ice Cream with the Boys: When staff writer Tom A. Peter set out to report today's story about the Sons of Iraq (SOI) movement, he visited a number of SOI checkpoints with a US military patrol in Baghdad. "Several American soldiers had told me that a lot of the SOI members were pretty young, as young as 15 or 16 years old," says Tom.
Although he's seen many youths doing a lot of traditionally adult jobs as a reporter in the Middle East, Tom says it was still surprising to see teenagers at checkpoints. "It shouldn't have been all that shocking since even the British Army allows 16 year olds to enlist (in the US, it's 17). But it's still somewhat disconcerting to see a raggedy-looking teenager, too young to drive in the US, with an AK-47 slung over his shoulder directing traffic and apparently chasing Al Qaeda out of Iraq," he says.
At one checkpoint, some of the SOI bought Tom and the US soldiers ice cream. And one young SOI member, apparently into body building, put on a flexing show and asked Tom to photograph it in the hopes that the picture might help find him an American wife.
• Not Going to Beijing: One of the perils of Olympic reporting is that it's almost impossible to guess who will make the Olympic team before the trials happen. Staff writer Mark Sappenfield went to the US training facilities in Colorado Springs in May to gather interviews with athletes. But the wrestling trials weren't until mid-June.
"Two of the Greco-Roman wrestlers I interviewed at some length (who were on the US world championship team) were defeated at trials. Some of the wrestlers I interviewed spoke with awe about a two-time world championship medalist, admiring his skill and promise. He also didn't make the US team," says Mark. "It's a reminder to talk to as many people as possible, because you have no idea who will be going to Beijing."
– David Clark Scott