The Paris suburb of Nanterre was at the heart of violent protests after a French policeman killed a 17-year-old at a traffic stop, and AP journalists in Paris worked around the clock to document the unrest and its aftermath.
Photographer Christophe Ena was among the first on the scene, taking AP’s first photos and video of flames in Nanterre on the first night and alerting our customers — and competitors — of the gravity of the story. He and a photographer from the European Pressphoto Agency were the only international journalists on the scene at the time and worked together to ensure each other’s safety as tensions rose around them.
Ena was joined on subsequent nights by freelance photographers Aurelien Morissard and Lewis Joly, all three of them heading into the heart of the unrest despite dangerous conditions.
Cara Anna, arriving from Nairobi, was among just a few journalists to cover the boy’s funeral and discreetly filmed a brief video of the cemetery where people were gathering to mourn. It was the only footage published of the event, but also respected the organizers’ request not to have cameras at the funeral itself.
And amid the crush of breaking news, chief correspondent John Leicester painstakingly collected names of towns targeted by violence and worked with interactives to produce an exclusive map showing how quickly the unrest had spread across France.
On a highly competitive story and facing other media with much greater resources, AP’s coverage drew global attention. AP videos drew more than 11,000 hits over the first three days of rioting alone. The top videos used by AP customers over the weekend were all from France unrest. Over the course of several days, stories about the violence were among AP’s top five most-used text stories, according to Newswhip and AP Newsroom.
AP’s work from the start of the unrest was cited in French coverage of how the rest of the world was viewing the violence. The diversity of voices in AP’s coverage also stood out from French and most other media. Amid volleys of tear gas and mounting tensions at a march to honor the victim, Alex Turnbull and Jeff Schaeffer notably persuaded mothers in the underprivileged neighborhood to speak on camera, along with an antiracism campaigner who spelled out why this killing touched such a nerve.
For sensitive, honest work in unpredictable, often hostile conditions to show a part of France tourists see rarely and understand even less, Ena and Anna earn this week’s first citation for Best of the Week.