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Top 5 'behind the news' stories of the year from AFP

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Top 5 'behind the news' stories of the year from AFP

"I was traumatized by what I'd seen for weeks," journalist Aminu Abubakar wrote of his experience covering one of many Boko Haram attacks in Nigeria, which killed 800 people.

"To write 'I' at AFP means to break a taboo, it goes against all style rules we have had in place for the past 70 years," Roland De Courson, who founded the blog in 2012, said in an interview with blogger Tonio Libero. But using the first-person voice gives these valuable stories exactly the personal touch needed to create a better understanding of the work of AFP's correspondents. 

Yana Dlugy, who coordinates the English version of the blog, says most journalists within the news agency like contributing to the blog because it offers a different type of writing. "For people who are creative, and journalists tend to be creative types, it's a nice way to express themselves," she told the World Editors Forum.

The blog gets roughly 160,000 unique monthly visitors. It is mostly read by people in the media: journalists, journalism students, policy makers and NGOs, but it also draws interest from the general public, De Courson said in a telephone interview. 

The five most-read stories on Correspondent this year:

1. War in Piece
It's hard not to be touched by the words of Aris Messinis, an Athens-based photographer who covered the story of migrants arriving by boat in Lesbos this summer. He was marked by the babies he saw, one of whom he had to carry as it was left alone dead on the shore. Many times he dropped his camera to help people. Unlike in a war zone, there is no danger for journalists, which makes the situation ever more painful, he adds. "The human pain is the same as in a war, but just knowing that you are not in a war zone makes it much more emotional". 

2. A journey to the unknown on the Balkan migrant route
The second-most read post was a diary written by Serene Assir, a Paris-based AFP-journalist, who teamed up with photographer Aris Messinis and video journalist Celine Jankowiak, to follow migrants on their journey to Germany, traveling from Greece through Macedonia, Serbia and Hungary. "It is a journey fraught with danger, where the best and worst of humanity comes to the fore," she wrote.

3. Lives cut short
Only two days after the Paris attacks, AFP decided to create an interactive database with biographical information on the victims 'so the death toll does not just consist of a number and so that each victim has a face'. To find these personal details, AFP-journalists searched on social networks and in regional newspapers, they called employers and mayors of the victim's towns, but rarely contacted family directly: “It’s not the moment to disturb them,” said Juliette Michel, one of the journalists in the team.

4. From streets of fear in Mogadishu to "Paradise in Paris"
Mohamed Abdiwahab, a Mogadishu-born photojournalist, works in Somalia, a country that ranks 172 out of 180 on the World Press Freedom index. Abdiwahab was the first Somali journalist to have his work featured at the International Festival of Photojournalism in France. His trip to Europe was "like 14 days of paradise," he wrote, "I've never known anything but chaos, fighting, famine, attacks, bloodbaths. So you can imagine what it felt like to walk in the streets of Paris for the first time!" 

5. Returning to Gaza
"A year ago cameramen and photographers crowded onto rooftops in Gaza trying to capture images of an air strike or a rocket fired toward Israel," writes Andre Bernardi, a video-journalist who returned to Gazathis summer. Although the echo of explosions and the sound of drones have stopped, 'the war is still in people's minds'. Nevertheless, everyday life seems to have taken over: "I still recall every spot where I saw a dead body. Today the area is full of children playing."

Author

Ingrid Cobben

Date

2015-12-23 08:02

Author information

The World Editors Forum is the organisation within the World Association of Newspapers devoted to newspaper editors worldwide. The Editors Weblog (www.editorsweblog.org), launched in January 2004, is a WEF initiative designed to facilitate the diffusion of information relevant to newspapers and their editors.


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