To call 2012 a year of crisis, especially for national and regional print media, would be an understatement.
Structural reorganisations have been followed by the shuttering of publications. The world’s largest news agencies have been hard hit. Against this challenging backdrop, AFP is doing better than just surviving. Through careful management, the agency is laying the foundation for a successful future: we have balanced our books, protected jobs, and continue to innovate, both in content and sales. It is a path we intend to continue pursuing in 2013. This annual report details the initiatives we have launched as part of a strategy, first elaborated in 2011, on how best to meet our partners’ ever-expanding and diverse needs. It is a proactive, long-term approach that means establishing an open-ended dialogue with our clients, creating new products, and setting up state-of-the-art multimedia facilities for production and broadcasting. These should reach their full potential this year.
Throughout this process, we have focused on core priorities: developing video, expanding our sports offer and increasing coverage in Arabic. Events in Syria are only the latest – but, alas, unlikely the last – confirmation that bolstering our strength in this part of the world is the right choice. We have built up our online and mobile offers, and boosted our presence on social networks.
These are not idle boasts or empty claims, but simple facts. Thanks to our network – and above all, our global staff – AFP turned in an outstanding performance in 2012. Highlights include the worldwide scoop on the death of serial killer Mohamed Merah, and a Pulitzer Prize for Afghan photojournalist Massoud Hossaini. We established several new media partnerships, and finalised a copyright agreement between AFP, its journalist unions, and the Civil Society of Multimedia Authors. Last year also saw a record number of clients, in France and abroad. And this is just the beginning.
Here’s wishing you an interesting and enlightening read!
In September 2012, Phil Chetwynd, the former editor-in-chief for the Asia-Pacific region, was appointed AFP’s global editor-in-chief, based in Paris. He replaced Florence Biedermann, who became director for Europe- Africa. Last year also saw new appointments to five of the agency’s six regional editor-in-chief positions.
Our coverage of major events in 2012 was often outstanding – and always comprehensive. We continued ramping up our video production and reaffirmed our position as world leader in sport news. AFP scored several major scoops and won numerous prizes, including a Pulitzer.
The agency blazed a new trail in its coverage of the French presidential election, and again showed that international news agencies are irreplaceable – as long as they can evolve, listen to their clients’ needs and create new products. With a new editor-in-chief, AFP should continue along the path of professionalism and innovation in 2013.
Against the backdrop of an economic crisis that has hit the media hard, AFP faces numerous challenges. It must innovate even more, be bold, creative, reorganise itself and rethink content. It must also make the best use of new technologies and improve communication with its clients – for whom the agency must be both a content provider and a partner.
These are all jobs for the new editor-in-chief to tackle in 2013. The highest priority, of course, remains quality. We are focused on a single goal: Intelligently thinking through and strategising coverage – not just managing it. We must be entirely accountable for our daily choices: cover less, but cover better.
To remain competitive, AFP must explain the world in an informative, clear, and contextualised way. It must rapidly deliver news to clients, along with the means to understand and analyse what is taking place.
We need to surprise more, in both content and form. AFP can and must set itself apart from numerous news providers that have neither the capacity nor the credibility to play the crucial dual role of producer and verifier of global news. This includes building coverage that is more visual, with photos, videos, and graphics that drive the news. We will also emphasise on-the-ground journalism, new formats, the greater use of data and an increased social network presence.
Additionally, we aim to produce carefully considered, state-of-the-art multimedia work that can be used on our new client-delivery platform, to be launched in 2013.