Correspondent / behind the news

Behind the image

An editor at work at AFP's Middle East and North Africa photo desk in Nicosia (AFP Photo / Florian Choblet)
AFP Photo / Florian Choblet

Editing images of ‘hell’, in close-up

The photo and video editors in Nicosia, AFP's headquarters for the Middle East and North Africa, have to face a daily flood of unbearable images. It is their job to pore over the images from Syria, from Iraq, Gaza, Libya and other regional hotspots, and decide whether or not to publish them. It is their job to take in, for hours at a stretch each day, images of mutilated bodies, of wounded children screaming in pain, and -- more recently -- of hostages being beheaded.

Much of this ultra-violent imagery is unfit for publication under the criteria that AFP sets itself, and will end up in the bin. But not without inflicting a kind of repetitive shock to the journalists who have viewed it.

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Above the fold

In Hong Kong, echoes of Berlin

Thursday 2 October 2014 - Decoding

Des milliers de jeunes Berlinois de l'Est escaladent le mur près de la porte de Brandebourg, le 11 novembre 1989 (AFP / Gérard Malie)

"There are of course plenty of reasons to say Berlin in 1989 and Hong Kong in 2014 are not comparable, yet they share intriguing similarities", writes Richard Ingham, who covered for AFP the fall of the Berlin Wall in 1989 and the handback of Hong Kong to China in 1997. "Enclaves, by the quirk of history that made them, are usually special places with a specific identity, often owing more loyalty to themselves than to the country that lays claim to them."

(AFP Photo / Gérard Malie)

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Covering cricket at the highest level

Tuesday 30 September 2014 - Eye witness

Cricketers play on September 26, 2014 on the ice-covered crater of the Kilimanjaro mountain, Tanzania (AFP Photo / Peter Martell)

Nairobi-based reporter Peter Martell covers a cricket game in the crater of the Kilimanjaro mountain, and breaks the record for the highest AFP story sent.

(AFP Photo / Peter Martell)

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Climate change: The 'Oh Shit!' moment

Monday 22 September 2014 - Debriefing


Marlowe Hood was a senior science and environment correspondent for AFP from 2007 to 2012. As world leaders gather in New York to confront the threat of climate change, he contemplates just how bad things might be. (A version of this post was first published in July.)

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Back to the future in Scotland

Monday 22 September 2014 - Eye witness

The Saltire, the flag of Scotland flies above the Union flag near the historic border between Scotland and England in August 2014 (AFP Photo / Andy Buchanan)

From Quebec to Edimburg with a stop in Juba : AFP Islamabad-based reporter Guillaume Lavallée has witnessed three independence referendums.

"For people who have a country of their own, independence movements can seem inward-looking, all the more so in a globalised era", he writes. "But if you do not feel you belong to a country, independence may feel crucial to affirming who you are, taking hold of your destiny and making your voice heard in the world. Two takes on the same word: nationalism."

(AFP Photo / Andy Buchanan)

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Covering the "Islamic State"

Wednesday 17 September 2014 - Decoding

An image grab taken from a video released by the Islamic State (IS) on September 2, 2014 shows a masked militant holding a knife as he speaks to the camera ibefore beheading US reporter Steven Sotloff (AFP Photo / HO / Site Intelligence Group)

Faced with the kidnap and murder of journalists in Syria, Iraq and Africa, and the flood of horrific propaganda images spewed out by the "Islamic State" group and its offshoots, it is time to reaffirm some ethical and editorial groundrules.

Our challenge is to strike a balance between our duty to inform the public, the need to keep our reporters safe, our concern for the dignity of victims being paraded by extremists, and the need to avoid being used as a vehicle for hateful, ultraviolent propaganda.

AFP's Global News Director Michèle Léridon explains what the events of recent months have changed in the work environment of a global news agency such as AFP, and how we have responded.

(AFP Photo / HO / Site Intelligence Group)

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Letters from a mass murderer

Wednesday 10 September 2014 - Eye witness

This picture taken on September 5, 2014 shows the signature under a letter by Norwegian right-wing extremist Anders Behring Breivik addressed to AFP journalist Pierre-Henry Deshayes at the AFP office in Oslo (AFP Photo / Pierre-Henry Deshayes)

"Over the course of one year, I have received three letters from Anders Behring Breivik", writes AFP's correspondent in Oslo Pierre Henry-Deshayes. "A quick glance at the envelope is enough to identify the sender. The neat, clean handwriting in block letters is impossible to mistake for anyone else’s. It makes my blood freeze."

Then comes a fundamental question: Should AFP disseminate the contents or not? Obviously, in this type of situation journalists run the risk of being used and abused. On the other hand, people want to know how peaceful Norway could give rise to such a monster. They want to know what that monster is made of.

(AFP Photo / Pierre-Henry Deshayes)

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In bed with Ebola

Wednesday 3 September 2014 - Eye witness

An MSF medical worker checks their protective clothing in a mirror at an MSF facility in Kailahun, on August 15, 2014 (AFP Photo / Carl de Souza)

"At 4:00am in an Ebola hot zone -- when you feel flushed, a little run-down and itchy from the prickly rash developing on your ankle -- paranoia can creep in. Did that kid touch me on the arm? Did that old guy who was spitting everywhere look sick? Did I touch my face before washing my hands after that interview? Is this a headache coming on? Is this a fever?"

Dakar-based reporter Frankie Taggart reports from Kailahun, in Eastern Sierra Leone, one of the worst-hit zones in an epidemic which has killed more than 1,500 people across west Africa.

(AFP Photo / Carl de Souza)

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Afghanistan: Another man in a man's world

Tuesday 19 August 2014 -

Afghan women ride in the back of a taxi in a street in Kandahar on September 16, 2013. (AFP Photo/Siddiqullah Alizai)

Hong Kong-based AFP editor Anuj Chopra recently returned from a reporting mission to Afghanistan. In a heavily male-dominated culture, one of his biggest challenges was trying to find women to talk to for his stories.

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