When AFP decided a few years ago to make a concentrated effort to expand its video offering, it faced a number of difficulties.
“Our departments used to work in parallel, and there was almost no collaboration,” says Henry Bouvier, head of video, AFP, France.
Mr Bouvier adds that there was the problem of reluctance from journalists: “ ‘I don’t want to become a Swiss knife,’ or ‘The quality of my photos will go down.’ We heard all of that. There were lots of arguments against AFP doing what we wanted to do.”
“We took a very prudent approach,” Mr Bouvier says. “Cultural change isn’t something that happens in months, it happens in years. We decided to go slowly, but we would prove to the newsroom that it was possible.”
AFP decided to use only volunteers and trained a number of journalists in Paris and Asia, he says. AFP also decided that doing video should not replace any journalist’s main job of getting text or photos.
Quality is the most important part of the project. He says AFP didn’t want to get into a situation where they could have been blocked by unions, etc. “So, the project is working. We’d rather have 300-400 doing it regularly and getting good results than to have 2000 doing it reluctantly and poorly. For us, it works quite well,” Mr Bouvier says.