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Kiss across the barricades

Wednesday 20 November 2013 - Behind the image

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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.

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Searching for insurgents in northern Mali

Friday 8 November 2013 - Eye witness

A French troop participates in Operation Hydra in the north of Mali, patrolling near a the village of Bamba. October 30, 2103. (AFP Photo / Philippe Desmazes)

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.

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Dining with Ghislaine Dupont, a legend of French radio

Monday 4 November 2013 - Eye witness

Portraits of the journalists Ghislaine Dupont and Claude Verlon, killed in Mali, outside the RFI headquarters. The sign reads: "RFI and all French media are in mourning.

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.

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The quest: an interview with Catherine Deneuve

Saturday 19 October 2013 - Eye witness

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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.

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When a “kill” increases life expectancy

Wednesday 4 September 2013 - Behind the image

The Mandatory Kill order for the photo.

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.

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Duping and doping in the Tour de France

Saturday 6 July 2013 - Eye witness

AFP Photo

This year’s Tour de France, currently winding its way across the country, is the 100th in the event’s history. AFP’s cycling writer Jean Montois has covered the last 30 races -- never missing a single stage. Here he looks back at what perhaps will come to be known as the Tour's darkest hour, the era of doping.

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Time trial: 30 years covering the Tour de France

Thursday 27 June 2013 - Eye witness

The 18th stage of the 1983 Tour de France. AFP Photo

This year’s Tour de France, which begins June 29 on the French island of Corsica, is the event’s 100th race. AFP’s cycling writer Jean Montois has covered the last 30 of these –- never missing a single stage. He’s had a front-row view of the Tour's biggest stories, including a tragic accident and the doping scandals that continue to dog the event to this day.

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Cannes: Game of Badges

Tuesday 14 May 2013 - Debriefing

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Journalists do a lot of waiting in Cannes. Until we rush frantically like someone trying to catch the last train to Salvation. Then we wait some more. And that’s the way it is during the world’s most glam film festival: bouts of downtime punctuated by adrenaline-pumping excitement of the highest caliber. Anne Chaon, AFP's cinema correspondent until earlier this year, looks back on what it's like to cover Cannes.

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Armstrong: The Bernie Madoff of sport

Monday 6 May 2013 - Behind the image

A stencil graffiti depicting cyclist Lance Armstron - in a Tour de France yellow jersey - attached to an IV drip is pictured on the side of a building on January 23, 2013 in Los Angeles, California.
AFP Photo/Kevork Djansezian/Getty Images

Armstrong: The Bernie Madoff of sport


"Armstrong cheated the Tour de France, the fans, the media, all those who believed his performances were for real and, worst of all, he betrayed his sport." So writes former Tour de France director Jean-Marie Leblanc in a new book, published this week, on the event he oversaw from 1989 to 2005. "He will go down as the Bernard Madoff of sport."

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A harmonic interview with Ozawa

Wednesday 24 April 2013 - Eye witness

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AFP’s Tokyo bureau chief Jacques Lhuillery heads to the French ambassador’s home to meet famed Japanese conductor Seiji Ozawa, who is returning to the musical scene after a long absence to fight cancer. (AFP Photo/Yoshikazu Tsuno)

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In Mali, French president can do no wrong

Monday 15 April 2013 - Eye witness

A portrait of French President Francois Hollande is seen in a market stall selling brushes at a street market in Bamako on March 6, 2013.

French President Francois Hollande is under fire for a tax-fraud scandal and a moribund economy, but there is at least one place he can turn to for steadfast support: Mali. AFP’s Stephane Jourdain finds a wave of pro-French fervor in the former French colony, where French troops are leading a military offensive against Islamist rebels who less than a year ago controlled half of the country. (AFP Photo/John MacDougall)

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France haunted by unsolved murder of family

Sunday 7 April 2013 - Eye witness

Picture taken on April 14, 2012 in Nantes, France shows messages stuck on the door of the Dupont de Ligonnes family's house on the first anniversary of the murders of family members, discovered at their house on April 21, 2011.

Two years ago Agnes Dupont de Logonnes and her four children, aged 13 to 20, were killed – shots to the body and head -- and then buried on the family property in Nantes, western France. The quintuple murder, still unsolved, has haunted the country ever since. Correspondent Alexandra Turcat, who covered the story for AFP, looks back. (AFP Photo/Jean-Sebastien Evard)

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Femen gets a kick in the pants (but not on Facebook)

Thursday 4 April 2013 - Behind the image

A man kicks a topless activist of the Ukrainian feminist movement Femen as she raises her fist to protest against Islamists in front of the Great Mosque of Paris on April 3, 2013 in Paris.
AFP Photo/Fred Dufour

Femen gets a kick in the pants (but not on Facebook)


Rarely a week goes by without a Femen protest somewhere in world. Originating in Ukraine five years ago, the expanding network of feminist activists bare their breasts – often inscribed with slogans – to champion women’s rights or decry corruption and what they see as repressive religious institutions and dogma. This week, the Grand Mosque of Paris was on their hit list. The AFP photo above circulated widely on the Internet, generating a lot of 'shares' and comments on AFP's French-language Facebook page. Until, that is, Facebook yanked it. 

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France’s prison of shame gets a facelift

Tuesday 26 March 2013 - Eye witness

A warden touches his keys on March 6, 2013 in the Baumettes prison in Marseille.

Infested with rats and beset with chronic violence, the Baumettes prison in the southern port city of Marseille leapt onto France’s front pages in December after a shocking government report -- complete with photos -- was made public. AFP correspondent Wafaa Essalhi and AFP photographer Anne-Christine Poujoulat got a first-hand view. (AFP Photo/Anne-Christine Poujoulat)


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Desert patrol: Tracking Islamists in Mali

Wednesday 20 March 2013 - Behind the image

This picture taken on March 15, 2013 shows French soldiers patrolling in the Adrar of the Ifoghas mountains.
AFP Photo/K. Tribouillard

Desert patrol: Tracking Islamists in Mali


"Scorching heat from above (the sun) and below (stones); black rocks so jagged they rip the military apparel on the soldiers with whom I am embedded; soot-like sand so invasive it sears my eyes and jams their guns; an enemy – never visible, always nearby – hell-bent on carrying out a holy war." This is how AFP photographer Kenzo Tribouillard describes the mountainous region along the Mali-Algeria border where he followed French troops tracking Islamist fighters. Here are his photos, and his report. 

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The movie maker and the manuscript

Thursday 14 March 2013 - Eye witness

Photo of Tay Garnett's star on Hollywood Blvd.

Tay Garnett. The name may not ring a bell, but you've surely seen at least one of the dozens of movies he made during Hollywood's golden age. "The Postman Always Rings Twice", perhaps? During a five-decade career, Garnett worked with Dietrich, Harlow, Heywood, Monroe, Bogart, Gable, Taylor, Mitchum and dozens of other single-name stars. And as a swan song, he compiled testimonials from the 20th century's greatest directors in a book as remarkable for what's between the covers as its back-story. (Photo/Tiela Garnett)

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Photography + ? = Journalism

Friday 1 March 2013 - Behind the image

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AFP Photo/Josep Lago

Photography + ? = Journalism


Photojournalists will sometimes say of a picture that it is more ‘photography’ than ‘journalism’, by which they mean, it seems, that the image has an inherent, stand-alone quality even when shorn of a specific news context. In other words, it’s just a good pic. So what is it, exactly, that determines when a photo becomes journalism? (AFP Photo/Josep Lago)

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Hipstamatic: too hip for photojournalism?

Friday 22 February 2013 - Behind the image

A picture taken with an iPhone using Hipstamatic shows Iraqi youth standing next to a Chevrolet Corvette from the 1970s during the Friday motor show in Baghdad's district of Al-Jadriya on February 8, 2013.
AFP Photo/Patrick Baz

Hipstamatic: too hip for photojournalism?


A tsunami of digital technology has reconfigured the news media landscape in more ways than one, eroding once solid firewalls between professionals and citizens, blogs and newspapers, fact and opinion. Boundaries have shifted in photojournalism too, with smart phones and digital apps moving from the margins toward the heart of the profession. What’s a news agency to do?   

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Cued by US, France’s pro-lifers shift tactics

Thursday 21 February 2013 - Decoding

Screenshot of French abortion information website www.ecouteivg.org.

Stumbling across websites in French on the highly-charged subject of abortion that seemed to be neutral but were anything but led AFP reporters Julie Charpentrat and Isabelle Tourne to dig deeper into the increasingly sophisticated tactics of France’s anti-abortion activists, who have clearly taken a page from the playbook of their US counterparts. 

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Unmasking a controversy in Mali

Tuesday 22 January 2013 - Behind the image

A French soldier wearing a skeleton mask stands next to a an armoured vehicle in a street in Niono, on January 20, 2013.

Unmasking a controversy in Mali


This image captured by AFP photographer Issouf Sanogo in Mali quickly caused a stir in the French army, with top brass condemning the masked soldier’s behaviour as “unacceptable.” But the story behind the striking image, taken as French and Malian troops headed toward Mali’s Islamist-held north in a bid to regain control of the immense desert area, is rather more banal than the photograph might suggest.

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