The FRANCE 24 Observers team is celebrating its 10th anniversary this week. We invited four of our Observers to Paris to meet the team and be part of our special anniversary TV show. They came from the Democratic Republic of Congo, Guinea-Conakry, Brazil and Saudi Arabia. Here’s a behind-the-scenes tour of their visit…

For the past 10 years we have worked with 5,000 Observers from all over the world and have 100,000 people signed up to be Observers. This week the team at the Paris headquarters welcomed Charly Kasereka (DRC), Fatoumata Chérif (Guinea-Conakry), Guilherme Pimentel (Brazil) and Mohamed al-Saeedi (Saudi Arabia) to celebrate our birthday with us.

 

Wednesday, December 13

Guilherme Pimentel arrived in Paris a little bit earlier than the other Observers. He started his day at the shoot for our weekly TV show at a studio in the south of Paris.


Our journalist Maëva Poulet tweets: "At the filming of The Observers with Guilherme, who's come all the way over from Brazil for the 10th anniversary of the show!"


Our three other Observers arrived a few hours later. They headed out to meet some of the Observers' editorial team and Marie-Christine Saragosse, the president of FRANCE 24's parent company, the France Médias Monde media group.

From left to right: Fatoumata Chérif, Mohamed al-Saeedi, Alexandre Capron (journalist at The Observers), Guilherme Pimentel and Charly Kasereka in front of the France Médias Monde building.

"With the chief executive of Frances Médias Monde, who warmly welcomed us to the France 24 offices at our arrival for the 10th anniversary celebrations of The Observers", tweets our Observer from Guinea, Fatoumata.


 

"Ready for work!" says Charly.


"Our four Observers trying out the France Médias Monde staff canteen - freshly arrived from DRC, Brazil, Guinea and Saudi Arabia," tweets our journalist Liselotte Mas.
 

Table football - the obligatory post-meal game after lunch at work.

 

Thursday, December 14

After a fairly calm first day, now the Observers have to get going.

9:15: The FRANCE 24 editorial meeting

This is the daily editorial meeting for all three channels of FRANCE 24 – French, English and Arabic – to look at the day's news and plan our coverage. Our four Observers went to the meeting.



9:45: A tour around the FRANCE 24 office

TV studios, tech desks and open-space offices ... Derek Thomson, editor-in-chief of The Observers, gave our visitors a tour around the office.

Lights, camera...

Our Observers, with some members of the team, near the desks where we work.

 

10:30–13:00: Filming of a special show for the 10th anniversary of The Observers

We filmed a special edition of our weekly Observers TV show with our visting Observers. It will be broadcast on January 6, 2018.

Behind the scenes of our special edition show, filmed by FRANCE 24 journalist Claire Paccalin.

Mohamed al-Saeedi talks about how news spreads across social media. You can see the full interview on our special anniversary show on January 6.

 

13:00–16:00: Other parts of France Médias Monde 'borrow' our Obs for a bit...

At 13:45, our Observer Fatoumata Chérif and journalist Alexandre Capron appeared live on the French news channel of FRANCE 24. Fatoumata had this message for women everywhere: "The Observers is a chance to send out a strong message, to share what we do and to fight for our rights, so get involved!"
 

 

At 16:00, Guilherme Pimentel headed to the Portuguese-speaking channel of Radio France Internationale, where he was interviewed for the radio.


Guilherme Pimentel (in front, with a pass around his neck), with some of the team from RFI Brazil.

 

19:30: It's party time!

Marie-Christine Saragosse, president of France Médias Monde; Marc Saikali, the director of FRANCE 24; and Derek Thomson, editor-in-chief of The Observers, hosted a press conference in The Tank, a co-working space in the 11th arrondissement (district) of Paris.

Saragosse looked back at the very beginnings of The Observers, 10 years ago. "When the show was launched, we asked ourselves if we could really use amateur images in our stories – but to my knowledge, there has never been a factual mistake in The Observers."

Thomson added, "Now, as soon as something happens somewhere in the world, we get hundreds of messages via [messaging apps] WhatsApp and Telegram."

"#ObserversTurn10: hasn't it gone quickly – let's celebrate!"

"This evening, we celebrated 10 years of The Observers of France 24, with our Observers !" tweets Chloé Lauvergnier, a journalist at The Observers.


During the press conference, journalists from other media quizzed our Observers about their experiences working with the team in Paris. We also had the pleasure of welcoming Kubra Khademi, an Afghan Observer who now lives in Paris. We first wrote about Khademi when she got attention in 2015 for a stunt in which she walked around the streets of Kabul wearing armour to protest against sexual harassment and the patriarchal culture of the country.

Charly Kasereka describes how, after The Observers team came to Goma in DRC for a report, it helped to improve the situation for the mentally ill in the town.

Guilherme Pimentel co-founded DefeZap, a phone app that allows citizens to share videos of police violence in Rio de Janeiro. He explains how The Observers helped draw international attention to the initiative and helped make the project safer in the process.

From left to right: Marc Saikali, the director of FRANCE 24, Guilherme Pimentel, Fatoumata Chérif, Kubra Khademi, Charly Kasereka, Derek Thomson, France Médias Monde president Marie-Christine Saragosse and Mohamed al-Saeedi.

Other Observers were also at the party: Bolewa Sabouri, a French-Congolese Observer who set up dance workshops to help victims of seuxal violence in Kivu in the Democratic Republic of Congo; Chérif Lamine-Haïdara, a Malian who started the AfrikaSolar project, which develops eco-friendly solar lamps; Baba Alfa Umar, from the Malian NGO Kisal, which works on promoting human rights in the Sahel region; Fode Sanikayi Kouyate, from the Association of Bloggers in Guinea, who recently started a campaign to draw attention to the appalling state of the roads in the country; Fatoumata Binta Diallo, a Guinean blogger; and Solo Niaré, a blogger for site MondoBlog.


 

Turkish journalist Gülin Çavuş, from Turkish fact-checking site Teyit.org, was also at the party. Çavuş is based with The Observers team in Paris for two weeks while she works on a research project about fake news involving refugees, funded by a scholarship from the International Fact-Checking Network.


Who's that in the crowd? Julien Pain, who co-founded The Observers with Derek Thomson in 2007, returned to congratulate the team.

 

Friday, September 15


12:00–14:00: Masterclass at CELSA school of journalism

Our four Observers and journalists Corentin Bainier, Maëva Poulet and Sarra Grira went to give a masterclass on the role of amateur images in journalism in front of a class of master's degree students. Some of them interviewed our Observers after the workshop.

The beginning of the masterclass at Parisian journalism school CELSA.

A masterclass at CELSA, a journalism school in Paris, followed by a number of interviews with journalism students.

This journalist from France Culture took advantage of al-Saeedi's presence for an interview.


"Thank you to the @Observers for coming to see us at CELSA!"