Reporters on the Job
• Half a Holiday: When he awoke on Monday morning, like many Frenchmen, staff writer Peter Ford was torn about how he would spend his day.
On the one hand, half his friends in Paris were taking Monday off, as they are accustomed to doing at Pentecost and he was tempted to join them. On the other, half his friends were working, and it seemed worth writing an article about the confusion.
In the end, he decided to "cut the pear in half," as the French say. He wrote his story, but did not cancel the lunch to which his wife had invited a friend. (The friend is a judge, and was not working: the Ministry of Justice took the day off, though the Ministry of the Interior, which runs the police, functioned as normal.)
At press time, having enjoyed his braised guinea fowl and the first cherries of the season, he was still debating with his conscience, and his editors, about how to spend the afternoon.
• Pack a Flak Jacket: Freelance reporter Nick Squires had two sobering reminders in East Timor about being prepared to cover a story where shooting is frequent. "When I arrived to go out on patrol with about 40 Kiwi [New Zealand] soldiers and five other journalists, I looked around and realized I was the only one without a bulletproof vest," says Nick. Although none of the foreign troops or journalists have been fired upon, he says, "I certainly felt exposed."
The second reminder came later in the day, when he drove past a concrete pillar in the Dili suburb of Becora. "I saw the small plaque marking where Sander Thoenes (a freelance reporter for the Financial Times and the Monitor) was fatally shot in 1999," says Nick. A colleague from the BBC loaned Nick a helmet and flak jacket for the rest of his stay in East Timor.
David Clark Scott