Monday 26 January 2015 - Eye witness
"On Saturday the 10th of January – on the eve of the historic unity march held in Paris after the Charlie Hebdo attacks – two suicide bombers blew themselves up in a café in the Jabal Mohsen quarter of Tripoli, in north Lebanon," writes AFP's Rita Daou. "The attack left nine people dead and 37 wounded. Late that night, still hard at work, I received a phone call from a journalist friend. 'What? Still working?' she exclaimed. 'Go to bed my dear. No one will use your story. Tomorrow is the Paris march. No one gives a hoot about Jabal Mohsen'."
(AFP Photo / Ibrahim Chalhoub)
Friday 23 January 2015 - Eye witness
"Writing a profile of Jacques Lhuillery is like walking down a winding road, with many forks. Starting from the man I knew and discovering, with each new friend I speak to, with each hilarious or moving anecdote, a new Jacques, another faraway land, another of his lives of which I knew nothing."
The head of AFP’s Japan bureau, who died of cancer aged 61, learned to speak Dutch while living in Saudi Arabia. He was the star of the annual Mardi Gras carnival in a small town in the south Netherlands, and he played petanque with an African head of state over drinks of ‘pastis’. Jacques was devastated by the murder in Ivory Coast of his friend and colleague Jean Helene, and was himself gravely injured in a fire at his home in Nigeria. But he never lost the rambunctious sense of humour, the actor’s talent and brazen nerve that seemed to open doors wherever he went.
(Photo: AFP /Georges Gobet)
Tuesday 20 January 2015 - Eye witness
As elite police hunted for the Charlie Hebdo suspects, AFP’s Sebastien Paquet and Reda Khoucha spent two days on their tracks - sleeping rough, surviving on service station sandwiches, and barely speaking to their families. So far so normal, for journalists assigned to cover one of the most dramatic stories to rock France in recent years. Except neither are journalists. Both were part of a six-man team of video technicians who worked round-the-clock – and well outside their usual brief - in the aftermath of the January 7 Islamist shooting at the satirical weekly.
Monday 19 January 2015 - Eye witness
Long-time Agence France-Presse correspondent Jacques Lhuillery, who has died aged 61, was one of the most entertaining, and prolific, contributors to the AFP blogs. After a string of tough postings that took him Iran to Nigeria via Ivory Coast and Lebanon, he found reason to marvel in everything he saw in his final AFP posting as Tokyo bureau chief. From the strange choreography of Tokyo metro workers, to the sounds and silences of the Japanese capital, or its bewildering complex recycling system. Whether sitting out an earthquake in a pseudo-Bavarian tavern, or pondering the likenesses between sumo wrestling and and corrida, here are his collected posts for the blog.
Friday 16 January 2015 - Decoding
"Each year, the country that hosts the UN's conference on climate change dishes out a wad of cash on a logo. The usual request to graphic designers is to provide something cosy. Something planetary. We-are-the-worldish. Whether all the hugginess works is another matter," writes AFP science, health and environment coordinator Richard Ingham. "Take the logo unveiled this week by France, where 195 countries are supposed to seal a historic pact in December. Is it a leaf nibbled by an ant? The Eiffel Tower, melting under a scorching Sun? Or a drop of biofuel, representing a greener, cleaner future?"
(AFP Photo / Jacques Demarthon)
Tuesday 13 January 2015 - Eye witness
Clinching a spot on board a helicopter, watching world leaders march under tight security, or melting into the heart of the crowd, AFP photographers Kenzo Tribouillard, Eric Baradat and Joel Saget share their experience of the historic January 11 unity march in Paris.
(AFP Photo / Kenzo Tribouillard)
Sunday 11 January 2015 - Eye witness
"As a journalist, I've covered some dramatic events in the past -- natural disasters in China come to mind or the conflict in Ukraine. But I never thought I'd see a bloodbath in Paris, my home city," writes AFP's Marianne Barriaux. "Why was I -- am I still -- so shaken by Friday's siege at the Porte de Vincennes in Paris?"
(AFP Photo / Eric Feferberg)
Thursday 8 January 2015 - Eye witness
"Charlie Hebdo’s cartoonists were not my friends. They were my first family in journalism, the one you can never fall out with," AFP's Karim Talbi, who started his career at satirical weekly, writes in tribute to his friends, murdered by Islamic extremists. "I would never be where I am today without the good old Wolinski, Cabu, Charb and Tignous."
(AFP Photo / Joel Saget)
Sunday 28 December 2014 - Behind the image
"This has been a tragic year for journalists," writes Kenzo Tribouillard. "But there were also moments of great joy and relief for the profession, and I was lucky enough to witness one of them. On April 20 at dawn, I headed to the Villacoublay military airport outside Paris to cover the homecoming of four French journalists, held captive in Syria for months."
(AFP Photo / Kenzo Tribouillard)
Friday 19 December 2014 - Eye witness
On a quiet Thursday in November, an AFP reporter in Bobigny, north Paris suburbs, receives a phone call from a flustered police officer, who dialed his number by mistake. «Hello, Jerome? Call back the fire brigade. We can’t find IT.” "IT, as we are about to find out, is the TIGER," writes Eve Szeftel, who spent two days in pursuit of the bloodthirsty beast -- under the amused eye of the world’s media.
(AFP / Julie Berdeaux)
Tuesday 21 October 2014 - Eye witness
Secretary of State John Kerry may be the champion-in-chief of American values abroad and who once ran to be US president, but who in his heart of hearts is constantly called back to Paris.
"Kerry's French roots run deep", writes AFP's State Department correspondent Jo Biddle. "His mother Rosemary Forbes was born in Paris in the 1920s and served as a nurse in the French capital during World War II (...) Once sneered at in America for being a fluent French speaker during his failed 2004 bid for the White House, the top US diplomat has been liberated in his new job, frequently chatting in French".
(AFP Photo / Brendan Smialowski)
Monday 6 October 2014 - Eye witness
Jean-Paul Sartre's "non" to the Nobel Prize in 1964 is one of the best-known incidents in the Nobel history. "First question to ask yourself when writing about a 50-year-old event: what happened exactly ?", explains AFP Stockholm correspondent Hugues Honoré. "In this particular case, when and how did the French existentialist philosopher learn he had won the Nobel ? When and how did he announce he refused it ?"
After tedious research, Hugues finds out that Sartre's refusal was an AFP scoop. A very young reporter, François de Closets, found the philosopher at a restaurant, respectfully waited for him and Simone de Beauvoir to finish their lunch, then broke the news.
Wednesday 16 July 2014 - Eye witness
What happens when too many journalists are trying to nab the same information at the same time? AFP's Roland de Courson gives an insight into the media scrum.
(AFP Photo/Joe Klamar)
Friday 13 June 2014 - Behind the image
London-based AFP photographer Leon Neal this month covered the 70th anniversary of the D-Day landings in Normandy. This is a version of his blog that first appeared on his personal site.
Tuesday 3 June 2014 - Decoding
More accustomed to covering riots, trials and drug stories in the Parisian suburbs than tracking VIPs, AFP reporters Estelle Emonet and Nathalie Alonso suddenly found themselves hunting for Kim Kardashian and Kanye West when speculation reached fever pitch that the celebrity couple would celebrate their wedding in France.
(Photo: AFP / Kenzo Tribouillard)
Wednesday 20 November 2013 - Behind the image
A young woman in northern Italy protesting the construction of a high–speed rail cutting through the French-Italian Alps kisses the Plexiglas visor of a policeman in full riot gear. The officer is immobilised just long enough for AFP photographer Marco Bertorello to capture the moment.
Friday 8 November 2013 - Eye witness
AFP photographer Philippe Desmazes recently completed an assignment embedded with the French army in remote northern Mali, where a war against Islamist insurgents continues. His visit to the desert coincided with the deaths of two colleagues from Radio France Internationale, who were killed in Kidal.
Monday 4 November 2013 - Eye witness
Ghislaine Dupont and Claude Verlon, two journalists with Radio France Internationale (RFI), were found dead Saturday after being kidnapped in Mali's troubled northeast. They were on their way to interview a spokesman for the Tuareg separatist group in the rebel stronghold of Kidal when they were abducted outside his home. AFP journalist Jean-Pierre Campagne, who knew Dupont well after covering the fall of Mobutu in Zaire in 1997, pays tribute to a slain colleague.
Saturday 19 October 2013 - Eye witness
AFP journalist Frederic Dumoulin wanted, in the worst possible way, to interview Catherine Deneuve. Indeed, he's been preparing for that moment for 20 years. So the French screen legend's impending 70th birthday seemed like the perfect occasion to finally do the deed. Here, the story of his quest.
Wednesday 4 September 2013 - Behind the image
When a “kill” increases life expectancy
The Internet has been abuzz, at least in France, ever since AFP transmitted this photo of French President Francois Hollande to clients on Tuesday, then quickly issued a “Mandatory Kill” order retracting it because it was deemed to be gratuitously unflattering to the president.
Immediately, AFP was accused of censorship and of having tried to suppress the photo on the direct order of the presidential office. This was not the case (otherwise we would not be republishing the image here.) Having said that, with the benefit of hindsight we see that the decision to retract the photo was clearly an error. AFP's Global News Director Philippe Massonnet describes what happened.