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Why AFP is Raising Money for RPT

Why AFP is Raising Money for RPT

As 19 AFP London staff go through weeks of agonising training for their Tough Mudder challenge on 30th April, Bureau Chief Florence Biedermann explains why she's joining them.

When I arrived at the Rory Peck Awards ceremony last November, I was not prepared for what awaited me. I thought it would be one of those ceremonies where everybody wears a fixed smile and congratulates and professes love for everyone, living in a utopian world of happiness, with some glitterati and stars of journalism present who are used to being in the limelight.

But instead it was a pleasant shock: because of the professionalism, because of the intensity, the earnestness, the emotion, the dignity of it all. Seasoned women reporters were presenting the work of freelance cameramen and camerawomen from around the world, each one of them filming what is wrong in the hope that things will change for the better. The noblest part of this profession - genuine people talking about wars, conflicts, all the atrocities on this earth in a sober, moving way.

I thought I would spend a relaxing evening watching short documentaries. Boy, was I wrong! Instead I was plunged into an intense world of agony, and despair, through a series of clips from the finalists' news footage and films. The quality of the images and the intensity of the situations reflected the quality of the camera operators who shot them to show the rest of the world what was going on – humiliation, violence, war, sexual exploitation… Freelancers reporting from Gaza, Syria, Iraq, Pakistan, Philippines, Ukraine… remarkable human stories, incredibly strong pictures. I felt proud to be a journalist and to share these moments with those brave colleagues.

International media outlets, including Agence France-Presse, are relying more and more on freelance stringers to report in difficult countries: Syria, Burundi… Freelancers are the ones who most of the time know the place better, take risks that other people will not take to get amazing pictures.  And that is why they are so vulnerable and must be helped and protected.

As an international agency with a global network, Agence France-Presse is present in all the dangerous parts of the world. And one of our main worries is how to protect the journalists we are employing. We provide them with security training in every part of the world, and supply them with material like protective jackets and helmets. And we do not buy images taken in situations we deem as too dangerous to be an AFP assignment. Our aim is to discourage freelancers to take too many risks.

This is a policy that we have been developing actively for years. And the same concern is at the heart of the Rory Peck Trust, with which we share the same values.

That is the reason why the AFP London team decided to take up another kind of challenge - a Tough Mudder race - to raise funds for the Trust and its remarkable work with freelance journalists around the world. 
Please support Florence and the AFP London team through their Virgin Money Giving fundraising page.

Check the RPT website, Twitter and Facebook feeds for updates on training and fundraising as they prepare for the big day!  

Image: AFP freelancer Yahya Hassouna speaking at the Rory Peck Awards with Olivier Sarbil

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