Reporters on the Job
• Freelance Economics: If you're a freelance journalist, you pinch your pennies, or pesos, as the case may be. Correspondent Kelly Hearn, for example, needed to get from his home in Buenos Aires to the Argentine border with Uruguay for today's story about a pulp mill dispute.
He took a three-hour bus ride that got him most of the way. But instead of taking a taxi to the border town of Gualeguaychú, he tried to hitchhike. "I carried a sign saying, 'No al las papeleras,' hoping a paper mill protester would pick me up, and I'd get an interview out of the ride," says Kelly. He was told that as many as 400 protesters a day shuttle back and forth with supplies for those manning the border blockade, and at night, when they get off work, the ranks swell to more than 1,000.
Alas, the protesters weren't picking up strangers. Kelly hired a taxi.
But he fared better after interviewing the Argentine protesters. He decided to cross the border to get the Uruguayan perspective. "The paper mill protesters didn't mind me crossing the blockade, but it was going to cost 100 pesos to get a cab on the Uruguay side to come pick me up. Fortunately, the Argentine customs agents offered to give me a ride in their bus - and they didn't charge me the 12 pesos border-crossing fee!"
• Thai Rumors: On Friday, there were rumors circulating in Bangkok that Thailand's prime minister might resign or call elections. Correspondent Simon Montlake called the prime minister's office and was told "the PM was busy all day with economic matters." But a few hours later, the rumor mill was proven right. Simon was at a doctor's appointment when the PM's office called back to say the rumors had substance. Simon's doctor said the reason Thais were upset with their PM was that his company had sold sensitive national assets to foreigners.
David Clark Scott