Sharp Words: Personal Web Site of David Sharp (Paris)


Election of Agence France Presse's Chief Executive Officer

A Candidacy to Defend the Company's 1957 Statutes, its Independence and Founding Principles, and the Interests of its Staff



Background: The Story So Far

  • 1956: Both houses of the French parliament unanimously adopt a law giving Agence France-Presse, a news agency reborn from the struggles that led to the country's liberation from German Occupation in 1944, an independent status, which comes into force in January 1957;
  • May 2007: Nicolas Sarkozy is elected president of France;
  • May 2008: A number of right wing French politicians, including a spokesman for M. Sarkozy's ruling UMP party, launch virulent attacks on AFP, questioning its reliability and in one case calling for its outright privatisation;
  • October 2008: The government officially announces that AFP CEO Pierre Louette is "mandated" to propose changes to the statutes which would notably "provide the agency with a stable shareholder base" and "boost its stature on the international and European levels". M. Louette, who has previously stated that there is absolutely no need to change AFP's statutes, immediately agrees to do so;
  • November 2008: AFP's trade unions unanimously agree to launch an online petition which notably rejects "any change which would have the effect of either turning AFP into a government agency, or handing it over either wholly or partially to private companies of any type and in whatever form";
  • March 2009: Pierre Louette publishes his proposals [Fr], which notably call for AFP to be transformed into a "national publicly-owned company". The unions denounce this [En] as a nationalisation which could easily open the door to a subsequent privatisation.
  • December 2009: French Culture Minister Frédéric Mitterrand announces the creation of a "group of experts" to study AFP's future. It is to be chaired by Henri Pigeat, president of the main Paris journalism school and a former CEO of the Agency;
  • February 2010: With his plan increasingly bogged down and the number of signatories of the "SOS-AFP" petition reaching 21,000, including many leading personalities and politicians, Pierre Louette abruptly announces his resignation, to move to a senior position at the partially privatised France Télécom company;
  • March 8: The AFP board calls for candidates to replace M. Louette, setting March 25th as the deadline.
  • Now read on...


Thursday March 18, 2010 : Statement by David Sharp, Journalist and Elected Member of the AFP Works Committee:


I have decided to apply for the job of AFP CEO in order to:

Below is the text of the letter I have delivered this day to the pre-selection committee set up by the AFP board:



For the attention of the pre-selection committee

Dear Madam, dear Sirs

I am writing to apply for the job of chief executive officer of Agence France-Presse.

I am doing so because I believe that a different path is both possible and necessary for AFP than the one laid out, at the request of the French government, by the outgoing CEO.

I am a British-born journalist, aged 62.

Since joining AFP in 1983 I have mainly worked as an editor on the Paris English Desk, in the Graphics and Multimedia Departments and in the General Documentation Service, the latter being my current post.

In 1995 AFP management put me in charge of an exploratory mission on the Internet, which led to my appointment as company webmaster within the then Multimedia Department, a post I occupied until 2000.

During those five years I carried out studies into the Internet and media, managed the Agency's institutional web site and took part in the creation of its first web products, notably the Internet Journal.

I am an elected member of the Works Committee and a member of the SUD-AFP trade union. In October 2008 I created the petition for the joint unions, and have managed the site since then. In July 2009 I also took part in the creation of the "Association to Defend the Independence of AFP" (ADIAFP).

The following are the main aims I will pursue and the proposals I will implement if the AFP Board of Governors decides to appoint me to the job of Chief Executive Officer:

AFP's Founding Statutes

The Agency's Missions

The Aims and Means Contract; Finance

Labour Relations

Changes to Products and Services

These then are my main proposals. On Thursday March 25th I propose to send you a somewhat longer document outlining my ideas for AFP. Please do not hesitate to contact me for any further information.

To promote wider debate on these proposals, I am taking the liberty of publicising the present text, both in the original French and in translation.


Yours sincerely

David Sharp


[Printable version PDF file, 100 Kb | Version française | Dossier complet en français (PDF, 840 ko)]