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« The year was marked by a boom in interactive graphics »

What have been the major developments in 2017 in AFP graphics?

In terms of innovation, the year was undoubtedly marked by a boom in interactive graphics. We have launched the product commercially and our production has been up to the challenge. We covered a set of elections that shook 2017 -- notably in France and Germany -- with interactive graphics that worked very well. Our goal now is the Football World Cup in Russia. We are preparing a preview package of interactive graphics on several different aspects of the competition.

Is your production just based in Paris?

Not any more. In 2017, we also started production in Berlin and Hong Kong. The idea is to have content from regional centres on world news events or sometimes more local. In Paris, we liaise with the regional centres and produce all sorts of graphics, from brief pieces to more in-depth stories.

October 31, 2017 – Geneva, Switzerland – Pinpointing and counting migrants who died or went missing in the world in 2017, according to the IOM. © Simon MALFATTO, Sabrina BLANCHARD / AFP

And some of this production has been especially innovative?

One of our flagship projects, a web-documentary called "Stray Bullets", which we produced with the Rio bureau, certainly made waves. It was an interactive graphic with photo and video produced from a database compiled by Amnesty International in Brazil. We wanted to give a voice to victims caught in the crossfire between police and drug-dealers in the favelas. This very successful product served as an advert for AFP's interactive graphics production. The work on the interface was done in Paris. We designed the interactive module before inputting the data.

How is this product sold?

All our interactive graphics at the moment are in an interactive catalogue. This is an add-on product included in our overall package. Therefore, clients can see all our interactive production very quickly on various types of screen and digital platforms. All our interactive graphics are responsive and can therefore be viewed on a mobile device.

What is going on with fixed graphics?

In fixed graphics, we have started to include data visualisation regularly in our production. These graphics are compiled using very large databases, which can come from outside the Agency. This visual content is created using semi-automatic software that allows us to, for example, position thousands of locations on a map using data visualisation.

Is your service involved in the AFPData project?

AFPData comes under the umbrella of the Graphics and Innovation Service. The project is moving forward quickly. We have now designed a platform to host AFP databases. We are now moving onto the operational phase of the project by designing the interface. This section of the project is bringing together data journalists from the Graphics Department and the Multimedia Archives Department.

Has this contributed to the development of data journalism at AFP?

Our different ways of using the data have contributed to the development of data journalism at AFP. So has the work of registering the databases we already have at AFP, which we have done with the help of all departments. All that goes hand-in-hand with an ambitious programme to train people in data journalism, involving long sessions of 10 or so days and distance-learning sessions for journalists abroad. In total, more than 100 journalists have been trained in data journalism since 2017.

Alain Bommenel

Alain Bommenel

Head of the Graphics and Innovation Service Manager