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AFP loses an iconic figure in Michèle Léridon
It is with shock and infinite sadness that AFP staff in France and the world over learned of the death of Michèle Léridon, 62, a former AFP Global News Director and a figure universally respected at the Agency.
Before being appointed in 2019 to the French broadcasting authority (Conseil Supérieur de l’Audiovisuel), Michèle spent 37 years at the Agency, where she embodied its key values: professional rigour and attention to others.
“Michèle taught me a huge amount on my arrival at AFP, when she was Global News Director. She exemplified the human values I love at the Agency: empathy, curiosity about everything, integrity, judgement and a sense of humour. She was an extraordinary person, who loved life,” said AFP Chairman Fabrice Fries.
"We are all shocked and devastated by the sudden loss of Michèle. She was not only an outstanding journalist, but also a courageous leader of the AFP newsroom who was greatly admired for her honesty and integrity. It was an absolute pleasure to work alongside her," said Phil Chetwynd, who succeeded her in 2019.
Driven by an unquenchable intellectual curiosity, Michèle spent her professional life breaking new ground. As a reporter, she pioneered our suburban reporting beat. As the first woman to be appointed Global Editorial Manager, she launched two AFP recruitment scholarships still seen as a benchmark today. She was as passionate about social issues in France as African news – she was the Agency’s first Africa chief editor on returning from a posting in West Africa.
Appointed Global News Director in 2014 by then-Chairman Emmanuel Hoog – again the first woman in this post – Michèle put video at the heart of AFP newsrooms and, along with then central editor-in-chief Phil Chetwynd, made AFP the first agency to launch a determined battle against misinformation.
Ever the trailblazer, she fought for women to be more equally represented in leadership roles at the Agency, and battled against the clichéd portrayal of women in the press. While she had many strong beliefs, her feminism was probably one of the few she allowed herself to express in public.
Michèle leaves a partner – whom she met in Rome while she was bureau chief there – and three children, including an AFP journalist. The Agency shares wholeheartedly in their grief.