Reporters on the Job
• Pay Per View in Africa: Mike Crawley wasn't always a fan of British soccer, but found that becoming one goes with living in Africa. "Most people don't own TVs here, but they'll find a way to watch British soccer teams. I was in an aid agency Saturday afternoon, for example, and the entire staff was watching England play Wales on the agency's television," says Mike.
He says it's hard for North Americans to appreciate the depth of soccer mania. On Saturday and Sunday afternoons, the garage-size movie theaters - which show action videos or Nigerian films on most nights - become venues for watching English Premier League matches. "For about 25 cents, you can sit on wooden benches in a small, hot room with 100 other fans. They yell at the TV and wear their team shirts," he says.
"Africans who succeed as international soccer players are heroes. They are looked at with respect, because they've succeeded outside the country and earned a lot of money. In that sense, George Weah [candidate for president of Liberia] has a huge edge (see story). George played for Chelsea, as well as for teams in France and Italy."
• Coverage of Hu? While sitting in her hotel room in Santiago, Chile, staff writer Danna Harman has been flipping between CNN in Spanish, and the English-language version. "The Spanish version is headlined with a growing stream of photo opportunities of China's President Hu - strolling the Copacabana, shaking hands, etc. (see story). Meanwhile, over on the English-language CNN, there is not even a mention of Hu's two-week visit to Latin America. The focus is reconstituting the Bush Cabinet, Iraq, and pardoning the Thanksgiving turkey."
• Terrorist Safe Houses: Staff writer Scott Peterson had a sense of déjà vu when he visited a suspected Abu Musab al-Zarqawi safe house in Fallujah Thursday (see story). It looked like Kabul, Afghanistan, in November 2001, after the fall of the Taliban.
"Back then, journalists arrived at the Al Qaeda safe houses before the US military or intelligence had a chance to get there," Scott recalls. Inside, they found Al Qaeda training manuals and invaluable intelligence on the group.
Thursday, too, Scott found ledgers marked with thumbprints from people who received cash or food. He saw computer disks and tangles of detonators and wire that pointed to do-it-yourself bomb-building. "The similarities were real," Scott says. "And my hair stood on end both times."
David Clark Scott