French news agency AFP has come under fire after withdrawing an unflattering picture of president Francois Hollande.
The picture (see below) was taken during Hollande’s visit to a school in Denain, northern France.
Agence France Presse (AFP) has denied it removed the photo – which showed Hollande with a silly smile and the words “today, it’s back to school” written in French on the blackboard behind him – on the orders of the presidential office.
AFP, in a blog post, said: “AFP was accused of censorship and of having tried to suppress the photo on the direct order of the presidential office. This was not the case.
“Having said that, with the benefit of hindsight we see that the decision to retract the photo was clearly an error.
“First of all, AFP has a rule not to transmit images that gratuitously ridicule people. The decision to publish each picture is based on its news or informational value. We never publish something purely for its shock value or to mock someone. Our photographers often catch public figures – at international conferences or waiting to give a speech, for instance – in unflattering but entirely human poses, such as with a finger in a nostril.
“But the editorial decision to retract the photo – while it seemed sound at the time – created more problems than it solved. In trying to “kill” the photo after it had already been transmitted, we actually drew more attention to it and fueled the suspicion that AFP had bowed to political pressure, thus causing some people to call into question the agency’s credibility.”
AFP, the oldest news agency in the world, was established as a state enterprise before in 1957 French parliament passed a law establishing its independence.
Top photo credit: screenshot of AFP photo service by 20minutes.fr