Agence France Presse (AFP) is one of the three major news agencies in the world. The other two are Associated Press (AP) in the US and Reuters in Great Britain. Headquartered in Paris, AFP has reporters in all areas of the world where news develop regulary. They distribute their services (text, video, pictures,....) almost instantaneously.
Despite the plethora of news services, most news printed and broadcast throughout the world each day comes from these three largest agencies. They have established a variety of relationships with other agencies and with individual news media. Most of them purchase the news services of national or local agencies to supplement news gathered by their own staff representatives at key points.
Based in Paris, Agence France Presse transmits news in French, English, Arabic, Portuguese, Spanish, and German. It is a government-chartered pubic corporarion operating under a 1957 law but is officially a commercial business independent from the French government. But AFP, who is governed by a CEO, has a board comprising 15 members including three representatives of the French government. One of them is named by the Prime Minister.
Its charter states that Agence France-Presse ''is a multi-lingual, multi-cultural news agency whose mission is to provide accurate, balanced and impartial coverage of news wherever and whenever it happens in the world on a continuous basis.'' '' Be it in text, photo, video, graphics or any other format, AFP’s duty is to seek and publish the truth in an increasingly disrupted world of information.'' It adds: ''As guaranteed by its founding statute, AFP speaks with an independent voice free of political, commercial or ideological influence.''
Recently, AFP published on its Twitter and Facebook pages a map of the Middle East to illustrate the diplomatic crisis in the Gulf when Saudi Arabia and other Gulf countries severed ties with Qatar over its sponsoring of terror groups. These illustrations are often very useful to understand the context of an issue. The problem with this AFP map was that it menioned only the West Bank and Gaza but not.... Israel. Israel didn't exist for AFP.... It was wiped off a map on social media...
The Simon Wiesenthal Center took the issue immediately with a complaining letter to AFP's CEO Emmanuel Hoog.
In its response, the news agency apologized, speaking of a ''regrettable fault which was corrected as soon as it was noted.'' It explained that the error ''was due to the reuse of a map background used for a different subject (the division between Shiites and Sunnis in the Muslim world). ''Only the names of the countries directky concerned with this matter were inscribed.'' AFP made a parallel with a map of the Eurozone which doesn't mention the name of Switzerland.....
The Editor's Note: World news agencies have a big responsibility when it comes to distributing news, especially regarding a sensitive issue such as Israel , the Middle East and the Israeli-Palestinian conflict in particular. We all know that errors can be made in covering the news but we also know that there are several levels of editing and proofreading within the news agencIes... which should help minimize such errors. I personally know how AFP works and I commend its Director of Information for acknowledging a ''regrettable fault.''