Reporters on the Job
• So Close, So Far: One of the "secrets" of covering the Israeli-Palestinian conflict is that its geography is quite compact. One foreign correspondent dubbed it the ideal "working mother's" war zone. You can drop your child off in Israeli day care, do a half-day of reporting in the West Bank, and be back by mid-afternoon to pick up your child. Reporter Ben Lynfield notes that Thursday's story about nonviolent protests in the Palestinian town of Biddu (page 5) was close to his house in Jerusalem.
"The distance between the first and third world is often only about 10 to 15 minutes," says Ben. "Reporters here move between two very different worlds that seldom have contact with one another. After covering the mournful protests in Biddu, I drove back to the celebrations and fireworks of Israel's independence day in about 15 minutes."
• Gone Source Hunting: Staff writer Scott Peterson put on his best detective hat to track down the Soviet officer who "saved the world" with his 1983 decision not to fire Russian nuclear weapons (page 7). No one in Russia's veterans' department could - or would - help him. One suspicious bureaucrat refused because "maybe you want to kill him."
The San Francisco-based Association of World Citizens had also written a letter to The Moscow Times, trying to find Lt. Col. Stanislav Petrov to give him their Distinguished World Citizen Award. Scott searched the Internet, and found a few references to Colonel Petrov, dating back to 1999. One mentioned that he lived on a certain floor in a small apartment, in a town outside of Moscow; another named a particular street. Enough information to go tracking.
But when Scott and his interpreter arrived, they found a street full of apartment buildings. They tried one entryway after another, climbing the stairs to the right floor. No one had even heard of him. Then finally, they came across a veteran who thought he recognized the name. He checked with another local vet. He pointed them to a building. No one answered the door buzzer. But Scott managed to get inside, climbed the stairs, and knocked. There was the colonel.
Scott has since passed along the contact information to the group in San Francisco so that Petrov can be awarded his peace prize.
David Clark Scott