Reporters on the Job
SENSITIVITY TRAINING: Reporter Dan Murphy got a first-hand taste of the tension between the Muslims of Basilan and the Philippines military on his recent visit there (this page). After Dan was given a tour of one of the military camps being used to target the Abu Sayyaf, the commanding officer asked him what he was going to do next. Without thinking, Dan replied that since it was Friday, he'd probably find a mosque in town and interview some locals when prayers were over.
"Big mistake," Dan says. "Instead of dropping me at the ferry point when I left the base, they drove me and two other journalists straight to a mosque - with rifle-toting soldiers in tow."
Making matters worse, Dan says, the soldiers ignored the "road closed" signs that the mosque had put up to keep out noise during prayers, and rumbled straight up in their truck. "I don't think they did it to be mean, but they clearly had no understanding of how offensive that would be to the local community," Dan says, adding that he requested that they leave just as soon as they arrived.
MISSED OPPORTUNITY: The art of getting the story is being in the right place at the right time. Unfortunately, it is easy to be in the wrong place at the right time - especially in a war zone. Monitor correspondent Scott Baldauf still regrets that he missed a chance to meet - and interview - the charismatic Northern Alliance leader Ahmad Shah Masood (page 7). Traveling in Afghanistan with Monitor photographer Robert Harbison in early September, he had planned to fly to Northern Alliance territory on a UN relief plane on Sept. 13. "From the very beginning, our plans were thrown off by breaking news," says Scott. "On the day after we arrived in Kabul, the Taliban's trial of the Christian aid workers began. The next day, Masood was assassinated. Two days later, the World Trade Center was attacked, and on that night, the Northern Alliance launched a retaliatory rocket attack on Kabul's airport."
- Faye Bowers
Deputy world editor