Ms. Ursula Hyzy speaks on AFP’s Globalized Multimedia

“I’ll start by explaining why I’ve chosen this title for this presentation, which is quite straight forward: ‘a truly global multimedia news agency.’ Each word counts. Why ‘truly?’ We are associated with friends. We are truly an international news agency in terms of clients on 5 continents. In terms of bureaus, we’re present in 150 countries, and there’s 80 nationalities in our company,” Ursula Hyzy began her presentation.

Hyzy represents the AFP, Agence France-Presse, as the Bureau Chief in Japan and gave a presentation on the company on March 14th at the Foreign Correspondents Club of Japan. She wished to share AFP’s success as one of the major world news agencies.

Coming back in 2015 after leaving Japan in 2005, Hyzy noticed some differences in Japanese work ethics.

“The first thing that comes to mind when you said 2005 is the aging. No, it’s true: the elderly people are working, and I can see that but I came back for only like 10 days in 2008. Coming back after 10 years is really something,” she explained her observation.

Since then, Hyzy felt that the AFP continued their growth in utilizing technology.

“Multimedia: not only because we are using photo, video graphics with our text, where we’re developing very strongly, but we’re present on social media. We’re innovating and finding new ways of telling stories. We have a blog,” she continued with her report on their company’s progress.

Not only does AFP utilize technology in order to take the lead in the news agency circle, writing for the organizations comes with its own benefits.

“Of course as a news agency our subscribers and readers are so different, and if we had opinionated news it would be unuseful and impossible to use… Opinionated information can be very useful as well but it’s the fact of being very vigorous and choosing the words, and when we work together it increases teamwork. We depend on each other. We have to proofread each other and when we do that… we are very careful about the way we say things and not be seen as biased. It’s a very interesting thing to work with,” Hyzy described working for the news agency.

Some examples of the organization’s presence globally includes a few intense areas.

“We are very present in war zones. As you can see here, we have some examples in Iraq. These are very recent pictures from the end of last week… being in such countries has a tremendous cost and few media flights can afford that,” she showed the press some pictures AFP journalists took of the war machinery present in those countries.

Although unique in accessibility, Hyzy emphasized the risk the employees face while working in those areas.

“We are very present in Syria as well… We have a strong connection there and stringers who work in very tough conditions. You can see in our blog, the one I was telling you about, that’s named Correspondence in English… it’s a way of telling a story in the 1st person so it’s much more personal with lots of pictures and videos. Sometimes it’s light subjects… but it’s usually heart wrenching stories, and you can read much more on the stories on our wires,” she spoke of the hardships the journalists endure.

AFP produces many stories like these. Uniquely, the organization also runs as an independent company.

“We do not have any commercial advertising. We do not have any capital… We’re independent in terms of what we say,” Hzyz described AFP’s management.

The organization holds a portion of power as a prominent news agency but it’s also ranked as the oldest.

“AFP is the oldest news agency of the 3 world news agencies. It’s been created by Mr. Havas in 1835 and it used be more for news from the stock exchange in Paris and London with using carrier pigeons,” she began a brief history on the company. The other 2 oldest agencies includes the Associated Press and the Reuters.

With simple beginnings, the organization known today didn’t arise until over 100 years later.

“AFP was created during the liberation of Paris on August 20th, 1944… An international news agency is not a new thing. We already had 46 over sea bureaus in 1957… We have a very specific statute. AFP is not a state company like some people think. It’s not a state company… It has a very unique statute that guarantees its independence… from any political or business interest. We have no capital, so it’s private,” Hzyz went into more detail.

After establishing the independent organization, noteworthy achievements continue to occur in the current century.

“We’re the first in providing high definition radio content, that’s pretty recent…Also I’ll tell you the priority is given to video, but the second priority is sports which for Japan is a very important thing because the Olympics are coming so we are committed to the Olympics and the rugby World Cup,” she discussed AFP’s main focus points.

Sports in Japan will need coverage but AFP feels prepared for the sporting events.

“We already have a very developed sports wire and sports service but we are specializing more and more in sports,” Hzyz assured the press.

Japanese events will receive AFP’s attention but one audience member felt curious how Hzyz thinks the current French election will turn out.

“In fact, it’s a very difficult situation with what’s going on, and my answer in this case is I don’t know who is going to win but… I say never say never, so we’ll see. Anything can happen as we’ve seen in the American election. That was quite a surprise to many people… It’s going to be very interesting anyway,” she summed up.

Although France’s future faces uncertainty, Hyzy remained confident in AFP’s success and the continuation of that along with strong relationships with other communities. Without the cooperation of government with AFP bureaus, their stories wouldn’t share the screens found around the world.

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