Isabelle Roughol – The J junkie

The tribulations of a young journalist and writer looking for work

Archive for the ‘Innovation’ Category

Gorillaz signs innovative title sequence for BBC Sports

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You all know the BBC is currently my favorite thing in media. I love the innovative approach they take (case in point: myCBBC, a social network for kids, and Big Cats Live, a live multimedia project involving webcams in a Kenyan national park), while still remaining outstanding at traditional media. Bonus points for their stunning documentaries.

This time, BBC Sports has teamed up with Gorillaz—the not-really-a-band band headed by a guy from Blur and an animator— to create a title sequence and original score to the station’s Olympics coverage. It’s innovative, it’s beautiful, and it’s witty. It even makes me want to watch the Olympics. I will leave it to your interpretation to decide who the monsters are.

See it here. (I’m cursing the Guardian for not making their —rare— videos embeddable.)

Written by Isabelle Roughol

Thursday, 24 July, 2008 at 05:59

Posted in Innovation, Television

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Columbia Missourian delivered on breaking news explosion story, mixing old and new media

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As Ryan Sholin aptly pointed out the other day, in media-blogging it’s best not to do too much navel-gazing on your own news organization. But the Columbia Missourian, my alma mater of newspapers, covered breaking news yesterday in a way that I think is worthy of a post.

I put my reporter cap back on yesterday. Around 11.15 a.m., an explosion razed an entire house in the East Campus neighborhood of Columbia, Mo. In the explosion and the fire that ensued, Carl Sneed, 87, died, and his wife, Merna, 84, was gravely injured. A firefighter was also injured.

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It was just 3 blocks away from my house, which actually shook from the blast. I honestly first thought it was my roommate once again slamming doors, but the sirens of fire trucks and ambulances told me otherwise. I rushed over there, though to his great credit, my roommate, photographer Kuba Wuls, got there even sooner and got some very telling pictures.

I called the Missourian and what ensued was an awesome example of teamwork on a local breaking news story. Our friendly neighborhood citizen journalism team, led by Clyde Bentley, practically a neighbor of the Sneeds, right away put together a Flickr gallery and got information from neighbors. One such neighbor submitted pictures that helped us identify the hero of the day, a firefighter who pulled Merna Sneed from the fire. We had a breaking news burst very quickly on the Web site and many updates throughout the day. The full story at the end of the day and the many sidebars painted a much more complete picture than the competing paper’s. We sent news alerts via text messages. We had reporters and editors working on site, in the newsroom and at the hospital. Convergence reporters brought back video, Kuba brought back wonderful pictures, and I was equipped with my own camera, too. (See below my first ever published picture. The slideshow above is a mix of published and unpublished ones.) See the whole coverage at

Rescue workers wheel Merna Sneed to an ambulance that took her to University Hospital. She had severe burns over more than 30% of her body. ISABELLE ROUGHOL/MISSOURIAN

The most unusual thing that came out of that day’s coverage was an interesting twist on new media meets old media. Everyone in East Campus was asking questions all day. But East Campus is an odd neighborhood with a large student population and just as large a population of elderly people, who may not have the instinct (or even the Internet connection) to check the Web for more information. The Missourian’s Saturday edition being a weekly printed on Thursday nights, we had no way to get the news in print out to the people in time. (Note: We are also cursed with the Friday breaking news.) So we made one up. I use “we” loosely because I’m sure the credit goes to someone; I just wasn’t around when the idea came up so I couldn’t tell you who. Anyways, the Missourian had launched in partnership with the East Campus Neighborhood Association an email newsletter about the neighborhood. We revamped the idea for print. We designed a one-page, front-and-back newsletter with excerpts of our Web coverage, made 300 copies and 8 of us hit the streets, fixing the newsletter to doorknobs with rubber bands.

What really matters in this story is the tragedy of an old couple being stolen their right to a peaceful, quiet death. I’m usually wary about covering such tragedies because there is a fine line between serving the needs of your community and just plain preying on victims. I don’t mean to celebrate this day as an achievement in journalism, and I hope it’s not what this post sounds like. But in the end, I think we served our community right yesterday: when so many people were worried about what was going on and wanted to share who Mr. Sneed was, the Missourian delivered.

The work, of course, continued today. In no particular order and unfortunately not exhaustively, here are some of the people to be credited for these two days’ outstanding work: managing editor Reuben Stern, editor Katherine Reed, editor Clyde Bentley, assistant editor Katie Fretland, reporter Sean Sposito, reporter Matt Harris, news editor and Web site wizzard Jake Sherlock, photographer Kuba Wuls, photography director Rie Woodward, photo editing staff (don’t even know all your names, I’m so sorry), photographer Katie Barnes, editor Liz Heitzman, editor Jeanne Abbott, production chief Joy Mayer, convergence editor Mark Lewis, reporter Jonathon Braden, reporter Annie Harp, reporter Lauren Fredman, convergence editor Beth Androuais, convergence reporter Jenn Herseim, convergence editor Jennifer Leong, circulation yesmen Rob Weir and Bruce Moore, photographer Joshua A. Bickel, citizen journalist Jackie Kreigh … (Yes, we are a huge newsroom, and that helped.) Those are only the ones I personally saw work or whose credit I could find on the Web site. I know there are plenty more. I am both proud and humbled to be a part of this team.

Written by Isabelle Roughol

Sunday, 16 March, 2008 at 03:30

“You’re really here for the revolution,” or why J school grads like me are freakin’ excited

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I just got out of my capstone class, which, under the somewhat pompous heading of “Journalism and Democracy,” is actually pretty good at helping seniors figure out what on earth we’re going to do with the rest of our lives. I mention it because today Geneva Overholser spoke to us. She was inspiring and kept it simple, giving us 4 things to keep in mind as we start out careers. I’d like to share those with you.

  1. Keep an open mind.

  2. Today’s journalism doesn’t resemble what we thought we were getting into, even just four years ago when we applied to MU. Get used to it and get over it.

  3. Be wise.

  4. “Wise shall be the bearers of light” is our motto engraved on the historic J-school building. Never has it been more true than today.

  5. Be entrepreneurial.

  6. Thank God! I side with the partisans of more business skills being taught in J schools. How can we save our industry if we can’t figure out how to make money at it? But Geneva wasn’t just talking about that. Talking about new media, she essentially said, you can’t have every skill in the world but you must expose yourself to them, be ready to understand them. Coming from a pretty grand figure of old media, this one made me particularly happy. Maybe I shall invite her to Wired Journalists.

  7. Have passion.

  8. Amidst all the doom and gloom talk, we’re almost forgetting that we got into this because we cannot possibly imagine doing anything else. With her 40 years’ experience, Geneva said she had never seen a more exciting time for journalism worldwide. And with my 2 years’ experience, I couldn’t agree more. “You’re really here for the revolution,” she said. “It’s gonna take your passion.”

With all that inspiring talk, I finally figured out my senior project, but more on this another time. If you want to read more from Geneva, download her Manifesto for Change. See her talk about it below (bless Berkeley for publishing their lectures online, even if the photography could be better.)

Written by Isabelle Roughol

Monday, 18 February, 2008 at 19:38

Everyblock has launched

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… as of a few minutes ago. Go check it out, I sure am. Full report later today.

(Update) Nice aggregation of user-generated content (Flickr, craigslist), straight news (local papers) and public records. Tons of public records. Nice possibilities for residents and journalists alike, as far as mining data. Still some progress to do on Web 2.0 features: the site needs more interactivity, more embeddable widgets and the possibility for users to suggest more hyperlocal sources of content (starting with blogs). But a great start overall. I just wish there was a Columbia, Mo. site so I could really judge how much more it brings to the table compared to your average news coverage.

Written by Isabelle Roughol

Wednesday, 23 January, 2008 at 21:44

Posted in Innovation, Web 2.0

I want to work for the BBC, or why Planet Earth rocks my world

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Planet Earth snow leopard In a time when we keep being told that no corporation is willing to shell out the money it takes to do quality journalism, I am appeased by the idea that a broadcasting company, albeit public, would invest in a three-year chase through the Himalayas to get about seven minutes of footage of a snow leopard. Read the rest of this entry »

Written by Isabelle Roughol

Tuesday, 10 July, 2007 at 23:24

On being… a journalist in 2015

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Brief post to share a couple videos with you. First, the funniest On Being I’ve seen so far. The Web site isn’t really compatible with direct linking, but go to the archives and look for Andrew Kaufteil. I assure you it’s worth it.

Second, an update on the infamous Epic 2014 video, now named Epic… 2015.

It’s already wrong on a couple developments (the wifiPod, haha). I’m not big on apocalyptic predictions, but this is still insightful. And the neighborhood communal live podcast at the end is pretty cool if you ask me.

Written by Isabelle Roughol

Friday, 6 July, 2007 at 17:11

Newspaper is a state of mind.

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You people warm my heart. Just as I was on a day of intense journalistic discouragement, I checked my blog stats and found 29 views just today, about three times my average. (I’m just starting here.) I don’t know what brought this on, but keep it coming.

Speaking of journalistic discouragement, I think I upset a couple old-timers in the newsroom today. I explained to them that I hadn’t particularly noticed the teaser to the Sunday paper on the front page because, although I browse the print product to see what it looks like (and, let’s face it, see my name in print), I am unabashedly part of this new generation who only reads news online. I got stares. Me, a newspaper journalist, taking part in the downfall of the industry? I believe it’s time I explain my newspaper philosophy.

Newspaper is a state of mind. Newspaper is NOT cheap paper and runny ink. Read the rest of this entry »

Written by Isabelle Roughol

Friday, 6 July, 2007 at 01:50