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Who are we?

The Observers is a collaborative site in four languages (French, English, Arabic and Persian) and a TV show on France 24 (with both a weekly and monthly edition). We cover international current affairs by using eyewitness accounts from "Observers" - that's to say people who are at the heart of an event. They send us photos and videos, which our team of professional journalists in Paris verify and contextualize.

How to become an observer

Anyone can contribute to The Observers! If you have photos or videos of an interesting or newsworthy event that you witnessed, or have firsthand knowledge of, contact our journalists. Send us your photos/videos, or links to photos/videos that are already online. Tell us the date and location they were made, what event they show, and what your connection is to the event. We can keep information about your identity confidential.

Devenir Observateur

Our Observers come from all over the world. They live in small villages and sprawling capitals. They are students, nurses, miners, activists, professors and any other profession you can imagine. They are your eyes across the globe.

How we work

The Observers site is a collaboration between our Observers and our team of journalists in Paris. We work in two different ways:

1. Our team of journalists finds amateur images on social networks and tries to contact the author or a person with firsthand knowledge of the events depicted. If we are able to verify their account and they agree to join our network, they become an Observer.

2. Our Observers send us information about events they have witnessed and documented via photo/video.

When we are sure of the authenticity of the information and any supporting documentation, we publish them in an online article. The article takes the form of an introduction written by one of our journalists, giving context and explaining who our Observers are and why their account is pertinent. That is followed by a first-person account from our Observer, taken from a telephone interview or an exchange via social media.

Fact-checking information

To fact-check information from our Observers - especially the first time they contribute - we use traditional journalistic methods.

The first time we come into contact with a potential Observer (either they approach us or we approach them), we treat them like any other news source. We ask for photo or video documentation; we question them closely about their access to the event and motivations for talking to us. We err on the side of caution.

We crosscheck the information they give us against other sources, including published reports, local journalists, experts, and pertinent governmental or nongovernmental agencies or other concerned parties.

Once an Observer has contributed, they become a trusted source we can turn to for future reports.

Verifying images

We use the following methodology to verify photos/videos sent in by our Observers, whether they say they took them themselves or found them online:

  • We try to contact the author of the image (if not our Observer).
  • We check to see whether the image has been previously posted elsewhere (Google Image search, InVID, Amnesty’s YouTube Dataviewer, etc).
  • We examine the image for signs of manipulation/tampering/photomontage.
  • We show the image to other Observers with firsthand knowledge of the issue/location.
  • We show the image to expert sources with knowledge of the issue/location.
  • We compare the image with published accounts of the same event.

Debunked

Our work with amateur contributors has made us experts at verifying images from nontraditional sources. Since 2014 our team of journalists put that expertise to use in a special section called “Debunked.” Our journalists analyze and verify photographs and videos that have been widely shared online, but that may have been faked, manipulated or taken out of context. We focus on issues of importance to the public interest, including claims by and against all interested parties. By “widely shared” we mean claims that have been shared sufficiently in a given community to have influence on the perception of that issue in the community. We explain our fact-checking methodology in each Debunked article, and we further share our expertise with the public, for instance in our detailed online photo/video verification guide

Funding, cooperation and partnerships

The France 24 Observers, as a department of France 24, is part of the France Medias Monde group, which is funded by the French state but editorially independent. The France 24 Observers adheres to France Medias Monde’s code of standards The France 24 Observers does not endorse political parties or candidates or programs, and our journalists do not actively engage in political or other forms of advocacy.

Our work with amateur images since 2007 has made us experts in image verification. We are committed to sharing our expertise with the public, with our fellow journalists, and with social networks where many of the images are published. In that aim we cooperate with the following organizations:

The International Fact-Checking Network (IFCN) is a unit of the US-based Poynter Institute. The IFCN promotes best practices in the fact-checking field and organizes exchanges among fact-checking organizations around the world via grants and other programs. In 2017, the IFCN financed an exchange between the Observers and Teyit.org in Ankara, Turkey. If any individual or organization believes the France 24 Observers are failing to observe the IFCN’s standards they should notify the IFCN.

Crosscheck is an association of French fact-checking organizations. It was launched as a project for France’s 2017 presidential election with support from First Draft News and the Google News Initiative

The Google News Initiative has financed annual fellowships for young journalists at the France 24 Observers since 2018. The GNI fellowships are currently for an eight-week period and organized in conjunction with the European Journalism Center

Facebook’s Third-Party Fact-Checking Program is designed to fight false information on Facebook and Instagram. The France 24 Observers have participated in the program since 2017. Along with other fact-checking organizations around the world, we help Facebook identify false information. If we or other fact-checkers identify a piece of content as false, Facebook lowers its incidence in users’ Newsfeeds and ensures that whenever the content appears it is accompanied by a link to our fact-checking article. Facebook contributes funding to our fact-checking activity.

Any outside funding listed we receive does not influence the findings of our reports. Participation in the Facebook program does not influence our selection of items to verify.

Corrections

If we receive pertinent information after the initial publication, we add it to the original article as an update or - if the new information invalidates our original information - as a correction. We are open about our sources and our methodology and publish information only when we are convinced that it is accurate on the basis of the information we have gathered. If we receive new information that changes our conclusions, it is our responsibility to alert our users by publishing any update or correction quickly, clearly and openly. Members of the public who have information relating to the accuracy of our reporting should send it to us! You can find our contact information here. We correct major inaccuracies – those that could change the principal findings of the report - in the opening section of the article concerned, in a paragraph marked “CORRECTION” with the date the correction was published. We correct inaccuracies that do not have a direct bearing on the principal findings of the report at the end of the article, also with a paragraph marked “CORRECTION.” We make our best effort to respond to senders of new information, though not all complaints justify a response.

Story suggestions

We welcome ideas for topics we should look into - including fake news and fraudulent images. We are unable to fact-check every claim that is sent to us; we focus on claims that have been widely circulated in a community and could have an impact on public well-being, and that are connected to current events and social topics that we cover regularly. We are interested in topics relating to human rights, governance, civil society, innovative social experiments, and the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals - especially those that involve amateur images. You can find our contact information here

Editorial team

Derek Thomson
Derek Thomson
Editor-in-Chief
Corentin Bainier
Corentin Bainier
Deputy editor
French
Alexandre Capron
Alexandre Capron
Journalist
French
Djamel Belayachi
Djamel Belayachi
Journalist
Arabic
Ershad Alijani
Ershad Alijani
Journalist
Farsi
Chloé Lauvergnier
Chloé Lauvergnier
Journalist
French
Maëva Poulet
Maëva Poulet
Journalist
French
Liselotte Mas
Liselotte Mas
Journalist
French
Fatma Ben Hamad
Fatma Ben Hamad
Journalist
Arabic

Derek Thomson, co-founded The Observers in 2007 and took over as editor-in-chief in September 2016. He presents the English versions of the weekly TV show and the monthly Observers Direct. He has worked in internet-TV convergence since the 1990s, notably at ABC News in the USA, where he produced the first regularly scheduled Webcast of a network news show, with Anderson Cooper in 1999. He joined France 24 at its launch in 2006 as head of new media, and created The Observers with Julien Pain as a way to use the internet to reach otherwise inaccessible amateur contributors. He previously worked as a producer for Reuters Television in Russia.

Corentin Bainier with The Observers since 2012, is a reporter and editor. He has worked with Observers from all the world’s continents, especially Africa, Northern Europe and the Balkans, often on issues related to the environment. He also works with numerous other media in print, Web, radio and TV, in France and overseas (Brazil, Morocco, Iceland, Norway). He is also a reporter for The Observers Direct, our monthly TV report.

Djamel Belayachi has been head of The Observers’ Arabic operations since May 2012. He covers the Middle East / North Africa region, focusing on themes such as migration, fake news and LGBT issues. He is bilingual French/Arabic.

Ershad Alijani est un journaliste spécialiste de l’Iran, de l’Afghanistan et des groupes chiites au Moyen-Orient. Il a rejoint les Observateurs en 2013 et pilote la version persanophone du site des Observateurs en partenariat avec RFI. Il a travaillé dans de nombreux médias en Iran comme le journal Shargh avant d’arriver en France en 2011. Spécialiste du factchecking, il est aussi contributeur régulier de BBC Persan et a collaboré avec de nombreuses chaînes de télévision françaises, par exemple France 5 pour la production d’un documentaire sur l’Iran.

Alexandre Capron a rejoint les Observateurs en 2012 et présente la version francophone de l’émission des Observateurs depuis 2016. Diplômé de Sciences Po Aix et du CFJ Paris, il est spécialisé sur les informations en images amateur en Afrique de l’Ouest. Depuis 2017, il est chargé de projet sur la question des « fausses informations » pour les Observateurs. Il est également responsable de la rubrique « Info-Intox », une pastille vidéo destinée à la lutte contre la désinformation sur internet.

Chloé Lauvergnier joined The Observers in October 2014. She focuses on Africa and Latin America. During her studies at the Institut d’Etudes Politiques in Grenoble, then CELSA in Paris, she worked in news organizations in Chile and Argentina, as well as at the NGO Reporters Sans Frontières. She regularly contributes to Athlétisme Magazine. Chloé speaks French, Spanish and English.

Maëva Poulet joined The Observers in December 2015. She focuses on Africa and the Portuguese-speaking world. After studying at CELSA in 2014-15, she had stints with the AFP in Lisbon, and at a local TV station in Bénin.

Liselotte Mas joined The Observers in December 2016 as an intern. She focuses on Europe, francophone Africa, and Turkey. During her studies at CELSA, she had stints at Le Soir in Brussels and the AFP’s Middle East desk in Cyprus. She has also worked for the participative press agency Citizenside/Newzulu.

Fatma Ben Hamad a rejoint l'édition arabophone des Observateurs en octobre 2019. Adepte du journalisme participatif et engagé, elle s'est longtemps intéressée aux luttes sociales et aux questions raciales avant de se tourner vers l'actualité internationale, notamment en Afrique du Nord, au Moyen Orient et dans le bassin méditerranéen. Avec un intérêt pour les populations autochtones, la communauté LGBT dans le Monde Arabe et les violences policières, elle contribue à des radios et des revues web franciliennes et tunisoises.

More information:

Showtimes:

Paris time
Saturdays at 10:15am and 4:45pm
Sundays at 1:21am, 8:52am, 1:15pm, and 8:45pm
Tuesdays at 5:45am
Wednesdays at 11:45pm
Thursdays at 10:22pm and 3.15pm

GMT
Saturdays at 8:15am and 2:45pm
Sundays at 11:21pm, 6:52am, 11:15am and 6:45pm
Tuesdays at 3:45am
Wednesdays at 9:45pm
Thursdays at 8:22am and 1:15pm

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