Isabelle Roughol – The J junkie

The tribulations of a young journalist and writer looking for work

Archive for the ‘Journos’ Category

Nick Kristof makes Cambodian visit

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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


Written by Isabelle Roughol

Saturday, 3 January, 2009 at 11:31

Hello, I’m Isabelle and I’m a plagiarist

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Thanks to Poynter, I found out about Jody Rosen’s discovery that her article (and many others’) had been grossly plagiarized by a Texas alt weekly. Articles under the Mark Williams byline in the Montgomery County Bulletin turned out to be mere collages of several other articles (not his work) in other publications. Rosen’s expose is quite edifying.

But there’s more revelation at the bottom of Rosen’s column (also pointed out by Poynter and Jeff Jarvis):

But perhaps the Bulletin is merely on-trend—or even ahead of its time. The Drudge Report, the Huffington Post, and Real Clear Politics have made names and money by sifting through RSS feeds; Tina Brown and Barry Diller are preparing the launch of their own news aggregator. Mike Ladyman and company may simply be bringing guerilla-style 21st-century content aggregation to 20th-century print media: publishing the Napster of newspapers.

Wow. Frankly, as a blogger I’m offended that the editorial work of linking and aggregating (and, by the way, sending traffic your way Jody) is compared to the gross practice of slapping one’s name on somebody else’s work and passing it as one’s own. Ouch. I expected this from The Associated Press, not from Slate.

That’s just one paragraph too many (that’s already angered at least one blogger) in an otherwise edifying exposé, which I will link to (er, plagiarize) here again. Just ‘coz.

Written by Isabelle Roughol

Thursday, 7 August, 2008 at 06:53

Posted in Ethics, Journos, Web 2.0

A Cambodian journalist is killed

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A Cambodian journalist and his son were killed over the weekend in Phnom Penh. Out of professional reserve, I don’t typically write about things my newspaper is covering. But I write about this because a/ I usually write about slain journalists, b/ I am a journalist in Cambodia so I’m obviously concerned, and c/ this one seems to have gone largely unnoticed outside of Cambodia.

Khim Sambor (also spelled Khim Sam Bo) and his son, Khat Sarinpheata, 21, were killed Friday evening in a drive-by shooting in downtown Phnom Penh. They were on their motorbike, and two men on another motorbike fired 5 shots at them, according to reporting by colleagues at the Daily. Khim Sambor died at the scene; and his son later at the hospital.

The investigation has not yet determined whether the murders were linked to Khim Sambor’s journalistic activities. It could have been a mere coincidence; shootings happen in Phnom Penh, increasingly these days. But the victims were not robbed or involved in a fender-bender (yes, those have prompted several shootings lately). The family said they did not know of any personal disputes that could have prompted the killings.

Khim Sambor was a journalist for the newspaper Moneaksekar Khmer, affiliated with the Sam Rainsy Party, the main opposition party here. (The press is highly politicized here, and most newspapers are linked to one party or another.) Khim Sambor had written articles about corruption in the government, and his newspaper has been in disputes with the ruling party. Most recently, Dam Sith, the editor of Moneaksekar and an SRP candidate in the July 27 general election, was charged with defamation and disinformation for printing comments by Sam Rainsy himself linking a government minister to the Khmer Rouge. Dam Sith was put in pretrial detention for a week. The charges have since been dropped.

Local and international NGOs and the opposition have linked the murders to the election season and Khim Sambor’s activism. The government has, too, condemned the murders, as well as foreign governments, and the US Embassy has offered the help of the FBI for the investigation. Elections are in two weeks; the campaign has been a bit tense, though not to the extent of past political turmoil in Cambodia. There have been a couple of killings and other non-lethal attacks of people both from the ruling party and the opposition, as well as threats; no murder has yet directly been linked to the victims’ political activities.

Being a journalist in Cambodia can be tough and frustrating (where isn’t journalism tough and frustrating?), but it’s typically not dangerous — certainly not fatal. This is a worrisome development. So please keep Khim Sambor in mind.

Written by Isabelle Roughol

Tuesday, 15 July, 2008 at 02:55

I’m a happy journalist, darn it!

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Tired of everyone blogging about, I had a moment of clarity and decided I should start an anti-AngryJournalist site. I typed up to see if it was available… and darn it, someone’s had the same idea 24 hours before I. None the matter, as long as people get to share their love of the trade. See it, share it, love it and rack up the numbers. Right now there’s 25 happy journalists and 1400+ angry ones. I don’t like those odds.

Written by Isabelle Roughol

Tuesday, 4 March, 2008 at 01:32

Posted in Journos

Attenborough retires (I’ve got a good 40 years to go)

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Pardon the interruption. A new issue of ¡Adelante! is hitting the stands in a few hours, so I’ve had a busy week at work. Adelante March 08 cover(See the pretty cover by designer Joanna Bajor.) The unseasonably warm weekend paired with the awesome True/False Film Festival haven’t helped me write either. Coming soon, a chat with infamous journalist Jason Leopold on his new venture, Background Briefing, when I find a second to write it up.

But for now, a video selection in honor of one of my ‘professional crushes,’ Sir David Attenborough, who announced his semi-retirement this weekend. He will still work on projects (like when he narrated Planet Earth) but won’t go on the field anymore. That means no more fighting for territory with giant woodpeckers.

For more interesting but not embeddable videos, check out the BBC Worldwide channel on YouTube.

Written by Isabelle Roughol

Monday, 3 March, 2008 at 04:09

A bad day calls for some random link-blogging

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I will not blog about the New York Times’ story on John McCain and his lobbyist friend. That’s right. Everyone and their mother has done it, and much better than I. I will, however, shamelessly plug McCain’s name here in an attempt to fool the Googly folks.

Item of note today: someone agrees with me. You might remember that I asked newspapers to stop shooting themselves in the foot by endorsing presidential candidates. (Jay Rosen rightly points out that the Times endorsed McCain while it was investigating his “ethical lapses,” and at the very least the publisher was in touch with both the editorial and the news sides.) Apparently, Time managing editor Rick Stengel is on my side.

French President Nicolas Sarkozy is going ahead with his reform of France’s external media, which I could blog about for hours. He just named famed journalist Christine Ockrent to director of the holding France Monde, which will regroup France’s international radio network RFI, trilingual cable news channel France 24 and francophone channel TV5Monde. Journalism unions were quick to point out that Ockrent is the wife of Bernard Kouchner, France’s foreign affairs minister. Ockrent defended her journalism credentials (I won’t deny they’re impressive) and said today on radio that she’s tired of being reduced to her “wife of” label. “Frankly, I find that unfair and humiliating,” Ockrent said. I couldn’t agree more, but she’s missing the point. Her new job puts France’s diplomacy and our international public media in the hands of the same couple. Can you say conflict of interest?

And lastly, think your job is threatened by bloggers, citizen journalists and the evil empire of Rupert Murdoch? Try fending off an insect invasion to save your paycheck.

Written by Isabelle Roughol

Friday, 22 February, 2008 at 05:39

“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