Isabelle Roughol – The J junkie

The tribulations of a young journalist and writer looking for work

Got questions for Placebo and other MTV Exit artists?

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On Saturday, I get to interview all the artists of the MTV Exit concert in Angkor Wat: that’s Placebo, The Click Five, Duncan Sheik, Kate Miller-Heidke and Pou Khlaing.

I like to get people’s input when preparing long-standing interviews, so if you have questions for those guys, let me know and I’ll work them in if they fit.

Note: I can think of plenty to ask Placebo, but I frankly don’t know the other guys so well. So do especially share if you’re familiar with Click Five, Duncan Sheik, Kate Miller-Heidke or Pou Khlaing.


Written by Isabelle Roughol

Tuesday, 2 December, 2008 at 22:40

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.”


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



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





She was moved by John McCain's concession speech.

She was moved by John McCain's concession speech



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

Have questions for the Thai and Cambodian Foreign Affairs ministers?

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The Thai Foreign Affairs minister, Sompong Amornvivat, arrives in Phnom Penh on Monday morning and will hold a news conference with his Cambodian couterpart, Hor Namhong, about the border dispute and military standoff. I will be there. I see the blogosphere is teeming with debates about the situation. What questions would you like to ask of the ministers? Post them in comments by Monday 9 am and I’ll do my best to ask them/include them in my reporting.

Written by Isabelle Roughol

Saturday, 11 October, 2008 at 23:03

A day with Vann Molyvann

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Vann Molyvann (Pardon the poor photo, I was too busy taking notes.)

Vann Molyvann (Pardon the poor photo, I was too busy taking notes.)

There are days — many if you’re lucky — when being a journalist is more than a job, more than the only thing you can picture yourself doing: it’s a privilege. Sunday was a day like that.

I spent a good chunk of the day discovering parts of Phnom Penh I had not yet seen — and another, the Foreign Language Institute, where I was just the day before without fully appreciating it — with Vann Molyvann, the leader of an architecture movement in the 1950s and 1960s that truly built modern Cambodia under the direction of now-retired King Norodom Sihanouk.

As far as tour guides go, he’s definitely as good as it gets. I always find fascinating to meet people who have seen moments in history I have only read about in textbooks. Maybe one day, I’ll be an old woman who can say she’s seen 9/11, Bill Clinton and Vann Molyvann. In the meantime, I just feel privileged talking to them and brushing past history.

For the full story, pick up today’s Cambodia Daily.

Written by Isabelle Roughol

Monday, 22 September, 2008 at 02:28

Posted in Cambodia, My stories

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

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