As Rohde discovered a
growing body of disturbing evidence -- bones, blood and the testimony of survivors
of mass executions -- Bowers was an engaged listener, lending him the psychological
support reporters often need under such pressure.
Bowers arrived at her position through an unlikely path.
She previously served as a social worker, and once owned a flower shop
in Arizona. She came to The Monitor in 1988 as an executive assistant
to the editor. Occasionally, she would write sports features for the
paper, mainly about baseball and tennis games, because it allowed her
to spend time with her then-teenage son. But she found international
journalism contagious, and began to study international affairs part-time,
receiving her bachelors degree from Boston University. In 1991 she began
editing in the foreign news department. She began writing on national
security and social issues in 1995.
Christian Science Monitor is a Boston-based daily with a circulation of about 80,000, mainly by mail
subscription. It receives support from the Christian Science Church, but does
not promote it. Its readership is national, highly educated, and with a strong
interest in social issues. Because most readers receive the paper a day after
publication, Monitor stories tend to focus on trends and analysis.
With less pressure to
cover spot news, Bowers could afford to give Rohde three weeks to look for
"I always go for the story
that nobody else is covering," she said. "We were thrilled to keep on it.
We had a responsibility to cover all that was happening and David was on it."
Once a reporter is on
the trail of an investigation in a remote location, an editor can be drafted
into a multiplicity of roles, ranging from strategist to research assistant.
Bowers located and faxed Rohde the copy of the satellite map that led him
to the gravesites in Serb-controlled territory the first time. She was also
the first person to share the results. Rohde called her from a public phone,
saying: "'Save a place on the front page, Faye. I have a femur,'" she recalls.
"I never had doubts. I felt that David had really nailed it."
Bowers' friendship with
Rohde made it easier for her to trust his findings in the field. But it may
also have heightened her worry and concern for his safety. The Serbs had officially
forbidden Rohde to re-enter the territory under their control. Believing that
Bowers would disapprove of him returning, Rohde took advantage of the six-hour
time difference between Belgrade and Boston and e-mailed her a message. He
described where he was going, what he was doing, and asked her to call his
friend if he did not return by a certain time. The e-mail
was dated Sunday evening. Bowers read it at 6:30 a.m. Monday morning.
Bowers had been puzzled
by Rohde's uncommunicative behavior before he left. "I thought David was mad
at me," said Bowers. "But, I knew how important it was for him to tell the
story, so I am not surprised he went."
By Monday, with no word
from Rohde, Bowers had a difficult task: to inform his family that he was
missing. She called Rohde's brother, who told the rest of the family. They
all arrived at the newspaper's office to discuss his situation.
Five days passed and there
was no word from Rohde. Bowers said she slept only two hours a night until
it was confirmed that he was missing -- an eternity of 120 hours.
By Friday, Bowers, Clay Jones (the Monitor's foreign editor),
and Rohde's family went to Dayton, Ohio, where peace talks were underway.
They lobbied the officials to do everything possible to secure Rohde's
safe release. Through a twist of fate, the journalist had become the
story, and the editor had become his advocate in yet another sense.