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AFPTV journalist Pacôme Pabandji wins the Rory Peck Award for News
Pacôme Pabandji, an AFPTV video journalist from Central African Republic, on Wednesday won the prestigious Rory Peck Award for News.
It is the first time that a video journalist working for AFPTV has won the internationally-recognised award which each year honours the invaluable work of freelance cameramen and camerawomen around the world.
Two of the three finalists in the News category work for Agence France-Presse (AFP). Pacôme Pabandji was chosen for his extensive coverage of the brutal civil conflict in Central African Republic from September 2013 onwards. Nichole Sobecki was nominated for her exceptional images of the attack on the Westgate Mall in Nairobi in September 2013.
Pacôme Pabandji is only 23 years old. He grew up between Cameroon, where his mother is from, and the Central African Republic, the country of his father. After studying ITC in Yaounde, Pacôme finished a Bachelor's degree in Humanitarian law at the Université de Bangui in September 2013. Pacôme began freelancing for AFPTV the same month as the Central African Republic plunged into chaos and violence.
Despite extremely difficult working conditions and no previous experience of covering conflicts, Pacôme, with a nonpartisan approach and immense determination and courage, went out with his camera day after day to meet the different parties in the conflict. His images show the savagery of the conflict and extent of the humanitarian tragedy.
He also chose to continue working in Central African Republic despite repeated threats from armed men to himself and his family, including in their home, at the height of the conflict. This dedication was praised by judges.
“He achieved one of the most difficult things in journalism – to be an objective observer inside a civil war. He cast a dispassionate eye on a conflict that’s passionate and dangerous on all sides,” they said on nominating Pacôme as a finalist. "Some journalists can go to cover a story – then leave again. He can’t. The conviction he must have to keep going – to keep telling the story of his country – is admirable."
The nomination of both Pacôme Pabandji and Nichole Sobecki as Rory Peck finalists has also shone a light on the quality of AFP’s coverage from the African continent as a whole. Extending its television coverage is a priority for AFP and it now has video journalists located in some 30 African nations, covering a diverse range of topics from breaking news to stories on the economy, arts and culture, technology and sport.
AFP would also like to thank the Rory Peck Trust which was set up in 1995 in memory of freelance cameraman Rory Peck, who was killed in Moscow in 1993. It is the only organisation dedicated to the support, safety and welfare of freelance newsgatherers around the world. AFP Chairman Emmanuel Hoog praised the Trust saying: “It has worked for years to promote the work of freelancers, defend their working conditions, a task which is increasingly crucial as our profession has been tragically hit by an increase in arrests and murders.”
The Director of the Rory Peck Trust, Tina Carr, said: “This year’s Rory Peck Awards winners and finalists have produced work of the highest quality at a time when freelancers are being targeted and silenced more than ever – a testament to their sheer determination, skill and desire to bear witness and uncover untold stories. Without the work of freelancers, our understanding of the world suffers. They deserve our recognition, support and protection.”
To see the work of the Rory Peck finalists and their profiles, please go to the Rory Peck website http://www.rorypeckawards.org.
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AFP is a global news agency delivering fast, accurate, in-depth coverage of the events shaping our world from conflicts to politics, sports, entertainment and the latest breakthroughs in health, science and technology. With 2,260 journalists spread across almost every country, AFP covers the world 24 hours a day in six languages. AFP delivers the news in video, text, photos, multimedia and graphics to a wide range of customers including newspapers and magazines, radio and TV channels, web sites and portals, mobile operators, corporate clients as well as public institutions.