Agence France-Presse

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Agence France-Presse
State-owned enterprise
Industry News media
Founded 1835 (1835)
Headquarters Paris, France
Area served
Worldwide
Key people
Fabrice Fries
(President and CEO)
Products Wire service
Number of employees
2,260[1]
Website AFP.com

Agence France-Presse (AFP) is an international news agency headquartered in Paris, France. Founded in 1835 as Agence Havas, it is the world's oldest news agency, and is the third largest news agency in the modern world after the Associated Press (AP) and Reuters.

AFP has regional offices in Nicosia, Montevideo, Hong Kong, and Washington, D.C., and news bureaux in 150 countries. AFP transmits in French, English, Arabic, Portuguese, Spanish, and German.

History[edit]

Agence France-Presse has its origins in the Agence Havas, founded in 1835 in Paris by Charles-Louis Havas, making it the world's oldest news service.[2][3] The agency pioneered the collection and dissemination of news as a commodity,[2] and had established itself as a fully global concern by the late 19th century.[4] Two Havas employees, Paul Julius Reuter and Bernhard Wolff, set up their own news agencies in London and Berlin respectively.[2]

In 1940, when German forces occupied France during World War II, the news agency was taken over by the authorities and renamed "Office français d'information" (French Information Office); only the private advertising company retained the name Havas.[5] On August 20, 1944, as Allied forces moved on Paris, a group of journalists in the French Resistance seized the offices of the FIO and issued the first news dispatch from the liberated city under the name of Agence France-Presse.

Established as a state enterprise, AFP devoted the post-war years to developing its network of international correspondents. One of them was the first Western journalist to report the death of the Soviet leader Joseph Stalin on March 6, 1953. AFP was keen to shake off its semi-official status, and on January 10, 1957, the French Parliament passed a law establishing its independence. Since that date, the proportion of the agency's revenues generated by subscriptions from government departments has steadily declined. Such subscriptions represented 115 million Euros in 2011.[6]

In 1982, the agency began to decentralize its editorial decision-making by setting up the first of its five autonomous regional centres, in Hong Kong, then a British Crown colony. Each region has its own budget, administrative director and chief editor. In September 2007, the AFP Foundation was launched to promote higher standards of journalism worldwide.

The Mitrokhin Archive identified six agents and two confidential KGB contacts inside Agence France-Presse who were used in Soviet operations in France.[7]

In 1991, AFP set up a joint venture with Extel to create a financial news service, AFX News.[8] It was sold in 2006 to Thomson Financial.[9]

In October 2008, the Government of France announced moves to change AFP's status, including the involvement of outside investors. On November 27 of that year, the main trade unions represented in the company's home base of France – the CGT, Force Ouvrière, Syndicat national des journalistes,[10] Union syndicale des journalistes CFDT[11] and SUD, launched an online petition to oppose what they saw as an attempt to privatise the agency.

On December 10, 2009, the French Culture Minister Frédéric Mitterrand announced that he was setting up a Committee of Experts under former AFP CEO Henri Pigeat to study plans for the agency's future status.[12] On February 24, 2010, Pierre Louette unexpectedly announced his intention to resign as CEO by the end of March, and move to a job with France Télécom.

The current CEO and chairman is Fabrice Fries (fr) and the Global News Director is Michèle Léridon.[13]

In the 21st century, AFP ranks as the world's third largest news agency, behind the Associated Press (AP) and Reuters.[14]

Statutes[edit]

AFP headquarters in Paris.

AFP is a state-owned enterprise[15] operating under a 1957 law,[16] but is officially a commercial business independent of the French government. AFP is administered by a CEO and a board comprising 15 members:

The mission of AFP is defined in its statute:[16]

  • Agence France-Presse may under no circumstances take account of influences or considerations liable to compromise the exactitude or the objectivity of the information it provides; it may under no circumstances fall under the control, either de facto or de jure, of any ideological, political or economic grouping;
  • Agence France-Presse must, to the full extent that its resources permit, develop and enhance its organisation so as to provide French and foreign users with exact, impartial and trustworthy information on a regular and uninterrupted basis;
  • Agence France-Presse must, to the full extent that its resources permit, ensure the existence of a network of facilities giving it the status of a worldwide information service.

The board elects the CEO for a renewable term of three years. The AFP also has a council charged with ensuring that the agency operates according to its statutes, which mandate absolute independence and neutrality. Editorially, AFP is governed by a network of senior journalists.

The primary client of AFP is the French government, which purchases subscriptions for its various services. In practice, those subscriptions are an indirect subsidy to AFP. The statutes of the agency prohibit direct government subsidies.

Copyright violation[edit]

In November 2013, AFP and Getty Images were ordered to pay $1.2 million compensation to freelance photojournalist Daniel Morel for using his images posted on Twitter related to the 2010 Haiti earthquake without his permission, in violation of copyright and Twitter's terms of service.[17][18]

Investments[edit]

Notable investments include:

  • AFP GmbH:

AFP GmbH is the subsidiary of AFP in Germany, producing German-language services for local press, internet and corporate clients.

  • SID:

Sport-Informations-Dienst (SID) is producing a German-language sports service.

  • Citizenside:

In 2007, AFP purchased a 34% stake in Scooplive, a citizen news photo and video agency online. Established in France in 2006, Scooplive was renamed Citizenside after this investment, but AFP soon sold its shares to news aggregator Newzulu.[19]

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ Delcambre, Alexis (July 11, 2015). "La grève à l'AFP se poursuit ("AFP strike goes on")". Le Monde. Retrieved July 13, 2015.
  2. ^ a b c Toal, Gerard (2014). Thrift, Nigel; Tickell, Adam; Woolgar, Steve; Rupp, William H., eds. Globalization in Practice. Oxford: Oxford University Press. p. 199. ISBN 0199212627.
  3. ^ James F. Broderick; Darren W. Miller (2007). Consider the Source: A Critical Guide to 100 Prominent News and Information Sites on the Web. Information Today, Inc. p. 1. ISBN 0-910965-77-3.
  4. ^ Kuhn, Raymond. The Media In Contemporary France. New York: McGraw-Hill Education. p. 3. ISBN 0335236227.
  5. ^ L'Office Français d'Information (1940–1944) (in French) Revue d'histoire de la Deuxième Guerre mondiale n°101, January 1976
  6. ^ "N° 3806 tome VII – Avis de M. Michel Françaix sur le projet de loi de finances pour 2012 (n°3775)". Retrieved January 19, 2016.
  7. ^ Andrew, Christopher, Vasili Mitrokhin (2000). The Sword and the Shield: The Mitrokhin Archive and the Secret History of the KGB. Basic Books. ISBN 0-465-00312-5. p. 169-171
  8. ^ AFP and Financial Wires Encroach on Original Market : Reuters News: Clients Defect. By Erik Ipsen, Published: February 13, 1992 nytimes.com
  9. ^ Thomson Financial acquires AFX. Publication: Information World Review Publish date: July 10, 2006, highbeam.com
  10. ^ "Bienvenue sur le site du SNJ". Retrieved January 19, 2016.
  11. ^ "Actualités". Retrieved January 19, 2016.
  12. ^ "December 2009: Government Sets up Committee to Study Agency's Future". Retrieved January 19, 2016.
  13. ^ "AFP: Michèle Léridon appointed Global News Director". AFP (Press release). June 23, 2014. Retrieved January 13, 2015.
  14. ^ McPhail, Thomas L. (2009). Global Communication: Theories, Stakeholders, and Trends. Oxford: John Wiley & Sons. p. 184. ISBN 1405150106.
  15. ^ "Agence France-Presse - Company Profile, Information, Business Description, History, Background Information on Agence France-Presse". Reference for Business.
  16. ^ a b "Full Text of AFP's Statutes in English". Agence France-Presse. June 12, 2017. Retrieved October 22, 2018.
  17. ^ Ax, Joseph (November 22, 2013). "Photographer wins $1.2 million from companies that took pictures off Twitter". Reuters. Retrieved November 25, 2013.
  18. ^ Laurent, Olivier (November 24, 2013). "Getty Images disappointed at $1.2m Morel verdict". British Journal of Photography. Incisive Media. Archived from the original on November 26, 2013. Retrieved November 25, 2013.
  19. ^ Aubert, Aurélie; Nicey, Jérémie (2017). Allan, Stuart, ed. Photojournalism and Citizen Journalism: Co-operation, Collaboration and Connectivity. New York: Taylor & Francis. p. 238. ISBN 1351813455.

External links[edit]