Isabelle Roughol – The J junkie

The tribulations of a young journalist and writer looking for work

Nick Kristof makes Cambodian visit

with 2 comments

I had the privilege to meet New York Times columnist Nicholas Kristof this past weekend, as he was inaugurating the school he and his family donated in Prey Veng province. (Full disclosure: the school building program is part of an NGO chaired by my boss.)

Kristof has reached this blessed stage where he actually gets paid to write his opinion and doesn’t have to check his every word for potential bias. I don’t know a single journalist who hasn’t, at least once, envied this position.

Kristof and NYT video journalist Kassie Bracken interview Cambodian schoolkids

Kristof and NYT video journalist Kassie Bracken interview Cambodian schoolkids

Meeting him reminded me of this point I’ve so often made in private conversations, and that I now feel should be made publicly (albeit not very eloquently because I’m still recovering from New Year’s Eve). I often feel that journalists (maybe myself included, unvoluntarily) have been so hurt by accusations of bias, are so afraid of their stories appearing one-sided, that they’re afraid of saying things as they are. Calling a cat “a cat” as we say in France. As someone commented on Kristof’s blog (I can’t find it now), the New York Times won’t even call water-boarding torture, resorting instead to an easy out (“which many consider to be torture”). Case in point.

Kristof photographs a Cambodian kid in Prey Veng province

Kristof photographs a Cambodian kid in Prey Veng province

So reading Nick Kristof’s columns is a breath of fresh air, even if I do sometimes agree with the critics and suspect that his political opinions and advocacy objectives can occasionally warp his reporting behind the columns. I like to read someone who calls the evils of the world what they are, even if, sure, nuance here and there could help. After all, his job is somewhere between journalism and advocacy so he gets to. And someone’s got to. So meeting him was a pleasure and an honor, and I couldn’t resist getting a photo together. (I managed to resist with a room full or rock stars last month so that’s high praise.)

Kristof and I in Phnom Penh. Ignore the bad hair and generally exhausted face; only in movies does the foreign correspondent look hot after getting up at 5 am and working all day under the unforgiving Cambodian sun

Kristof and I in Phnom Penh. Ignore the bad hair and generally exhausted face; only in movies does the foreign correspondent look hot after getting up at 5 am and working all day under the unforgiving Cambodian sun

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Written by Isabelle Roughol

Saturday, 3 January, 2009 at 11:31

2 Responses

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  1. I’m envious that you had the opportunity to meet Kristof.

    I agree with that some journalists are too slow to be human and “call a cat “a cat.”

    While I’m sure he occasionally cherry picks stats to support his case, so do most journalists.

    Ryan Gladstone

    Saturday, 10 January, 2009 at 01:01

  2. Oh, Frenchie, you look hot too, like in the movies…

    Jero Torpedo

    Wednesday, 18 March, 2009 at 20:36


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