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French news agency AFP appoints first foreigner to top editorial job as Brit journalist named global news director

Agence France-Presse has appointed a British journalist as its global news director – the first time a foreign national has been given the 184-year-old French news agency’s top editorial job.

Phil Chetwynd takes over the role from Michele Leridon, who was the first woman to lead the agency’s news department. He is currently editor-in-chief of AFP, overseeing its daily news output.

Chetwynd, who grew up in the UK and South Africa, breaks a line of French news directors at AFP since it was founded in 1835 as Agence Havas.

He joined the agency in 1996 after finishing a post-grad in journalism at the University of Cardiff and three years working on UK regional newspapers.

During his time at AFP, Chetwynd has reported from some 20 countries, including the US in the aftermath of the 9/11 attacks in 2001, Afghanistan and North Korea.

Between 2002 and 2012 he was based in Hong Kong, first as news editor then chief editor for the Asia-Pacific region, where he helped set up AFP’s first multimedia integrated newsroom and played a “major role” in launching the video service in Asia, according to a spokesperson.

Chetwynd has been based at the agency’s headquarters in Paris since 2012, where he has played a “key role in the multimedia transformation of the agency”, AFP said.

Picture: Lucas Barioulet / AFP

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