National Geographic : 1998 Aug
NATIONAL GEOGRAPHIC Assignment * INDONESIA FIRES Breathless Reporting "Sometimes the smoke was too thick to see more than a few yards ahead," says writer Lew Simons, who covered Indonesia's fires with photographer Mike Yamashita. Mike-a volunteer fireman back home in New Jersey-brought the respirators he and Lew wore constantly. "It never occurred to me that we'd need masks," admits Lew. "But we couldn't have worked without them." A New Jersey native, Lew has spent three decades writing about Asia. While Tokyo bureau chief for Knight-Ridder News papers, he won a Pulitzer for his reporting on the Philippines. * NEW YORK'S CHINATOWN East Side Story He's written about subjects from Burma to the brain. But for Assistant Editor Joel Swerdlow, here with Fifth Precinct Deputy Inspector Thomas Chan, reporting on Chinatown was still a tough assignment. "A lot of people didn't want to talk," he says. "They worry about immigration officials and safety inspectors. Outsiders like me are trouble." Still, working with Chinese photographer Chien-Chi Chang eased Joel's way, as did the universal language of food. "Chinatown's res taurants are great," Joel says. "But sometimes, for a change, I'd take my Chinese friends a few blocks away for dinner in Little Italy." NATIONALGEOGRAPHIC(ISSN 0027-9358)IS PUBLISHEDMONTHLYBY THENATIONALGEOGRAPHICSOCIETY,114517THST.N.W.,WASHINGTON,D.C.20036-4688.$27.00A YEAR,$5.00A COPY. PERIODICALSPOSTAGEPAIDATWASHINGTON,D.C.,AND ELSEWHERE.POSTMASTER:SENDADDRESSCHANGESTONATIONALGEOGRAPHIC,PO.BOX63002,TAMPA,FLORIDA33663-3002.