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Associated Press newswoman Karin Davies didn’t want her mother

April 28, 1997

CHICAGO (AP) _ Associated Press newswoman Karin Davies didn’t want her mother to know she was covering war-torn Africa, but reality caught up with her.

The truth came out after her photographer was wounded and a photo of her cradling the bloody man was printed in her hometown paper, The Seattle Times.

A friend called her mother to say a photograph of her daughter, at the time a London-based reporter, was in the paper.

``And my mother said, `Oh, at Wimbledon?‴ Davies said.

The anecdote brought a round of laughter Monday at a panel discussion with AP reporters held during the news cooperative’s annual meeting in Chicago.

Louis D. Boccardi, AP president and chief executive officer, moderated the discussion with AP reporters from around the world about recent developments in Washington politics, the Middle East and ethnic unrest in Africa.

In addition to the Nairobi-based Davies, the panel included AP vice president and special correspondent Walter R. Mears, Israel chief of bureau Nicolas Tatro, Washington, D.C., special assignment editor John Solomon and White House reporter Sonya Ross.

Davies also told the emotionally gripping story of being held last Halloween along with a photographer by government forces in Zaire and told to ``live your last moments. You’re going to die.″

They were freed hours later.

Tatro spoke of the fear of bombings he and his family must endure every day in Jerusalem. He recounted the story of his son asking whether a public bus his class was taking to the zoo would explode.

``I said with more assurance than I felt that it wouldn’t,″ Tatro said. ``It leaves everyone with a sense of insecurity about whether to go to the mall or whether to go out to a walk in a crowded place.″

Mears, who has traveled with seven presidents, said press access to the president has narrowed steadily over the years, thanks to an ``on-guard sense″ from politicians that comes from every word and action being recorded and dissected for public consumption.

Ross said first lady Hillary Rodham Clinton is far more accessible on trips than her husband.

``She comes back to the press quarters of the plane to commiserate over the day, to talk about some things that she may have on her mind, to see pictures that photographers took on the laptop,″ she said. ``He is on a larger plane; it’s more difficult for him to come back.″

Solomon noted that the White House has been unusually willing to turn over newsmaking documents related to the controversy over Democratic political fund-raising tactics. The strategy appears to be to release the documents before Republicans uncover them and to inundate Americans with so much information that they become less interested in the controversy, Solomon said.

Solomon predicted that Attorney General Janet Reno would continue to resist calls for an independent counsel to investigate campaign financing abuses, saying fund-raising laws are so ``riddled with loopholes″ that ``it may be very difficult to kick in the independent counsel law.″

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