TAKE-HOMES FROM MEDIA GURU CELINE CLERY ON NEWS COVERAGE- REPORTING AND WRITNG- AND THE AFP.
BY HANNINGTON KINUTHIA
An exuberant and life-changing session took place in DAC 606 that brightened up an early gloomy Wednesday. Under the guidance of facilitator Ms. Wairimu Gitau, the freezing audience was warmed by the presence of the guest speaker, Celine Clery an expert in news coverage for more than a decade. A rejuvenated audience of distinguished learners had their pens ready to take note of the day’s lessons on video production in news coverage.
The French oracle of news coverage Celine Clery took center stage to familiarize all and sundry with the gospel. Her journey kicked off a decade ago when she was invited to work with Agence France-Presse (AFP) shortly before relocating to the Europe-Africa desk in London. Seven years now and still counting, the profile has been AFP’s video coordinator for the East Africa region based in Nairobi. Astonishingly, she supervises news coverage from 14 countries, and just not to be mistaken, her prolific nature has led to her reporting in nearly all of the region’s states! A distinguished student in the class of media reporting, she has numerous mind-blowing achievements, Celine has superbly engaged presidents and was a frontline reporter in Sierra Leone for the Ebola calamity and the migrant crisis in the Mediterranean. She is a living icon in the field of journalism- news coverage.
AFP is a French news agency that moves outside the country’s boundaries to propel happenings around the globe, inherent in 151 countries. Consisting of over 1000+ journalist, the news agency covers stories, package them, and market them to respective media houses even here in Kenya.
The main aim of AFP is video coverage from a human perspective. With a monopoly of unique ideas on the technicality of video coverage that is termed as Golden rules of AFP-Shooting, Editing, and Dope sheets, three key factors in a video coverage. These skills and techniques took learners’ breaths away undoubtedly. In video shooting, friends of the lens (photography enthusiasts) got new dawn of grace after being updated with excellence in taking shots. In shooting, context is key -images must tell, where we are, and what we are talking about. Interviews observe the rule of the thirds (not centered) upon only one interviewee, it is most advised to switch locations. Under editing, the best images come first on the timeline with image lengths of between 30 sec to 1min. The order of soundbites is a mirror image of why you are covering the story. Dope sheets. Here she keenly described how headlines describe the video, Leads must describe the content of the video as well as give relevant context.
A projected slideshow performance by Celine was an enlightener and the game changer to the dumbstruck and tongue-twisted learners who had their eyes glued to the projector screen in utter loathe to their thoughts that provided false beliefs to each self that they were ripe with content. A keen gaze into AFP (Agence France-Presse) notes threw off a keen but taciturn audience with how the agency gathers news from France and around the world with factors such as being timely, objectivity, factual, and credibility meticulously considered.
Celine insisted on the journalistic tasks in the newsroom and on the field while reporting. Professionalism is non-negotiable! In the event of interviewing high-profile individuals in society- Heads of states and government, Ambassadors, delegates- it is unprofessional to take selfie pictures with them (not unless requested by the interviewee to have an official photo) and post them on your social media accounts with catchy captions, blowing up the social spaces. According to her, she argued, that when in the field covering a story in whichever part of the world, as a reporter, it is expected of them to stop existing in their social media lives, remaining inanimate is of great relevance for the production of a masterpiece of a story without eliciting premonition to the audiences.
Ethics and codes of conduct for journalists! Knowing what to do is just as important as knowing what not to do. Biasness in the field could lead to disastrous outcomes, assassinations not an exception. She insisted on involving both sides of the party to avoid being one-sided in reporting or writing. Understanding the impact a story can bring -cold war and tensions- should educate oneself on whether to let the story go on air or to kill the story to serve a greater interest. There was plenty covered under codes of conduct -filming children, sexual victims, obscuring pictures and names, accountability, independence, acts of violence, and election reporting. Based on the approaching august polls, Celine argued out on the techniques of covering an election story. In France, on the day of voting, one is restricted to participate to cover a story on who a citizen is voting for. Increasingly unlike here in Kenya, we have witnessed reporters on field duty giving airtime to citizens to pronounce their preferred candidate, a challenge posed to the media.
In Celine’s words, development and pre-production make up 50% of your story. Consideration of the 5Ws+H rule is not an option in coverage. Drawing to the session’s commencement, a feature story from in attendance Celine Nyangere, a Masters’ student, done and posted on YouTube courtesy of Look Up Tv, with the title Young Hustle: A young spoken word artist, was projected, similarly, the class facilitator, Ms. Wairimu Gitau’s feature story with the title Idle no more, was also reviewed. Both feature stories a serious bone of contention to attendees.
Ultimately, the closing remarks from Celine emphasized the ability of journalists to be backpack-type of journalists. Being able to be multi-skilled is an upper hand when being in the field or searching for a job. Fact-checking just as one of the AFP objectives, should be an inherent value in media personnel, engaging with authorities also before filming a story and cross-checking your work before final submission. Notable smiles beamed the room upon departure.