Isabelle Roughol – The J junkie

The tribulations of a young journalist and writer looking for work

Archive for the ‘Photography’ Category

Happy New Year

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My best wishes to all for joy, lots of travel and other eye-opening experiences, and for you to always have fun in your journalism or whatever you do.

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Written by Isabelle Roughol

Thursday, 1 January, 2009 at 06:20

French newspaper Le Figaro gets caught altering photo… and doesn’t sound all that sorry

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[Update on Nov 22]

L’Express’ editor-in-chief Eric Mettout explains on his blog how and why his paper published the scoop on Le Figaro altering the minister’s photo. (French version at the link, excerpt translated by yours truly below. Molière reference impossible to translate.)

“It’s true it’s not North Kivu, this story. But it’s information, not as harmless as it looks, which says a lot about the collusion of media and [political] power — worse, on the conditioning of certain newspapers or journalists who now self-censor even before the Commander intervenes. It threatens us, too. The day when, God forbid, we slip up, to be called back to our senses this way will be painful but salutary.”

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Here’s one for the ethics textbooks that motivates me to revive this otherwise forgotten blog. Look at those two photos:

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The top one is the Wednesday Nov 19 front page of Le Figaro, one of France’s top daily newspapers. The bottom one is the original photo taken by François Bouchon for Le Figaro. Notice the gorgeous ring on the finger of our justice minister, Rachida Dati? (by Chaumet, white gold and diamonds, price tag: 15,600 euros, or about $19,500 in today’s super high dollar.) Notice how it’s disappeared on the front page?

Worse than the act of altering a news image (huge no-no, if you were wondering), is the totally unapologetic stance of the Figaro photo editor when interviewed by L’Express, a competing newspaper, which revealed the photo was doctored.

“We went to press under a tight deadline. We’re taking responsibility [for this]. We didn’t want that ring to be the object of a polemic, when the real topic is the judges’ petition. Rachida Dati has nothing to do with this.”

[For context, Le Figaro is right-leaning, as is the government, and people could have assumed the minister requested the ring be removed from the photo. Also, Dati isn’t very popular with France’s law professionals and they recently let it be known. And generally, French people don’t like to see a 20k piece of jewelry on their government officials in the middle of the worst crisis since the Great Depression.]

I’m appalled. If you don’t want the ring to be so apparent, choose one of the other gazillion photos on file of this highly mediatic, government official. (Believe me, I too care about the judges’ petition; half my family is in the legal professions.) Being on deadline might be an excuse for not taking the time to tone a photo; I really don’t see how it’s one for going the extra mile and altering a photo. And most of all, nothing —NOTHING— is an excuse for misleading readers.

I really don’t care what circumstances this was done under, because I can’t think of a single one that would make it ok. At this point, were I a Figaro reader, all I’d want is an apology. And I have yet to find one on Le Figaro’s Web site.

PS: Now the photo is all everyone’s talking about, and not the judges’ petition.

Written by Isabelle Roughol

Friday, 21 November, 2008 at 05:47

Posted in Ethics, France, Photography

Day of Change: Faces of America Abroad

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Obama supporters gathered in Phnom Penh to watch the presidential election and, later, celebrate. Even far away from the US, the emotion was palpable. I got to taking portraits of those people on the day they’ve been waiting for, some for years. (And then I couldn’t edit it down.)

Democrats Abroad watch party at the FCC, Phnom Penh, Cambodia

Democrats Abroad watch party at the FCC, Phnom Penh, Cambodia

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She was moved by John McCain's concession speech.

She was moved by John McCain's concession speech

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mother and son reaction to McCain winning Georgia.

This one just for fun: mother and son reaction to McCain winning Georgia.

Written by Isabelle Roughol

Wednesday, 5 November, 2008 at 09:13

This is why I haven’t been posting

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A fisherman's boat at Koh Tonsay, an island in the Gulf of Thailand where I was 2 weeks ago. (Photo copyright me)

A fisherman's boat at Koh Tonsay, an island on the Gulf of Thailand across from Kep, Cambodia, where I was two weeks ago. (© me)

Among other things: a bit of blogging fatigue frankly, we all go through it. And not much Internet connection. But a lot of exciting developments are happening, which I will write about soon.

Phnom Penh readers, look for me at BarCamp Phnom Penh, Sept 20 at the Cambodia-Japan Cooperation Center.

Written by Isabelle Roughol

Thursday, 11 September, 2008 at 04:31

I got schmapped: Should I be giving up content for free?

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I got an e-mail yesterday that both flattered and irritated me, and I’m still on the fence about it. Schmap.com, a site/software of interactive city maps for tourists, contacted me about using a photo of Montreal’s Bon Secours market, which I took this spring and posted on Flickr. One of the features on their map is user-contributed photos of landmarks. Of course, there’s no financial retribution but “many photographers are pleased to submit their photos, as Schmap Guides give their work recognition and wide exposure,” they say. Reminds me of all those unpaid internship offers where they told you working in their newsroom was a privilege and a “great learning experience.”

As the daughter of a freelance writer, I early on understood that content is worth money and businesses who ask writers and photographers to work for free are hogs. Every time you give up content, you bring down the rates for thousands of freelancers whose livelihood depends on people understanding there’s a monetary value attached to writing and photography. Pick one cause you believe in, my mom once told me, and write for them for free; the rest of them can open their wallets or ask someone else. Then I started writing myself, and I got it even more. But I also jumped on the citizen-journalism bandwagon, which is pretty much the same thing. In fact, it’s the one thing that’s always bothered me about it: we’re asking people to give up material that, especially in breaking news situations, could be worth thousands to them, exploiting the fact that they may not be familiar with media and rights.

But what’s the difference between Schmap’s query and my putting the photo on Flickr, geotagged for everyone to see when they look up Montreal? Maybe it’s that I’m getting a service in exchange from Flickr: they host my photos. I could, I guess, get a service from Schmap if I was visiting any of the cities they cover. Maybe, I’d feel more comfortable if Schmap was an open-source, non-profit, good-doing kind of an enterprise, but it sounds too commercial for me to willingly get robbed of my picture. I have till Sunday to give an answer. What do you think?

In the meantime, my vacation snapshot — which frankly isn’t worth a blog post — will get “wide exposure” right here.

Written by Isabelle Roughol

Wednesday, 16 July, 2008 at 09:33

Posted in Photography, Travel, Web 2.0

Photos from Phnom Penh

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You guys are bugging me so much for photos, I took a couple (literally a couple) on my way to work the other day, and I won’t wait for more before posting. It’s not much, but I caught this guy practicing the national pastime of napping during the hottest hours of the day, and I thought he was funny. (He collects recyclables for a living, and that’s his work cart he’s in.) So here’s a bone for you. More this weekend.

Photographer friends, do me a favor. Which of the two framings above works best? I know it’s not grand art, but I’m unsure without an editor.

Written by Isabelle Roughol

Wednesday, 25 June, 2008 at 07:28

Natural majesty of the rocky summits

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Welcome back to the old site. I am finally done with sorting and toning my photos from my family’s post-graduation trips to the Rocky Mountains. Here are a couple samples; more on my Flickr gallery.

I know it’s really Cambodia you were waiting for, but it’s monsoon season, and it seems my free time almost always coincides with torrential rains. I will get to it, I swear.

The evening sun reflects off a creek in the Arapaho National Wildlife Refuge.

The evening sun reflects off a creek in the Arapaho National Wildlife Refuge.

This tree, seen from the train on the ride up to the top of Pike's Peak, may not seem like much, but it's one of the oldest trees in America. It is more than 2,000 years old and started growing at the time Romans were building the Colysseum.

This tree, seen from the train on the ride up to the top of Pike’s Peak, may not seem like much, but it’s one of the oldest trees in America. It is more than 2,000 years old and started growing at the time Romans were building the Colysseum.

Georgetown's downtown area is reflected in the window of an antique shop. Georgetown is a nicely preserved old frontier town.

Georgetown’s downtown area is reflected in the window of an antique shop. Georgetown is a nicely preserved old frontier town. That’s my dad in the window.

Lost somewhere in North-eastern Colorado...

Lost somewhere in North-eastern Colorado…

The evening sun shines through clouds in a valley of Rocky Mountains National Park.

The evening sun shines through clouds in a valley of Rocky Mountains National Park.

The conductor announces the arrival of the Georgetown Loop train at the Silver Plume, Colo. station, and reminds schoolchildren to keep their hands in.

The conductor announces the arrival of the Georgetown Loop train at the Silver Plume, Colo. station, and reminds schoolchildren to keep their hands in.

Written by Isabelle Roughol

Saturday, 14 June, 2008 at 07:07