Reporters on the Job
• Ask an Editor: Reporters have many techniques for finding the characters for a story. In Wednesday's piece about South Africa's growing black middle class, staff writer Abraham McLaughlin was tipped off about Willy (page 1), by the Africa editor, David Hauck. "On his first trip to South Africa, Dave went with Willy on a tour of Soweto. Ever since, Willy's been the tour guide we suggest to visitors. He's gregarious, knowledgeable, and has a deep voice like the guy in the '80s 7-Up commercials (Ah, a, a, 7-Up!)"
But Abe adds, there's no ethical conflict. "Willy's never offered - and we've never asked for - a discount on tour prices either for us or visiting guests."
Recently, Abe sent some friends out with one of Willy's employees - and they had a wretched time. "The employee, Chris, was rude and was also taking people on tours using Willy's vans without Willy's knowledge. Willy later discovered this and fired him," says Abe. "During our interviews, he bemoaned the lack of good employees. 'They look good from afar, but when they're working for you, they take advantage of you or take your money or worse,' he said. He told me that there are millions of people without jobs. But it's really hard to find good employees willing to work hard."
Ah, the burdens of management.
• Boston of the East: Staff writer Scott Baldauf considered taking a driving course for Wednesday's story on rising traffic accidents worldwide (page 7). But he worried that he would get a skewed view of the instruction. "Often Indians are more polite to foreigners than to fellow Indians," he says. Had he taken the course, it would have been his first time behind the wheel in Delhi. "I've never driven here, and I never plan to. I've driven in Afghanistan. I have no problem driving in a war zone, but not Delhi."
A friend of his who just moved to India told Scott, "I grew up in Boston; this is nothing."
David Clark Scott