Paris (AFP)

Respected figure of Agence France-Presse (AFP), Michèle Léridon, who engaged the agency in the fight against disinformation and fought for a better representation of women in the media, died suddenly on Monday, announced the CSA, which she had integrated two years ago.

"Woman of convictions, Michèle Léridon was a great journalist unanimously recognized", in particular for "her rich experience and her great intellectual rigor", underlined in a press release the Superior council of audio-visual, regulator of the French television and radio , recalling "its commitment to freedom of expression and freedom of information" which will have guided its course.

"Michèle taught me a lot when I arrived at AFP, when she was news director there. For me, she embodied the human values ​​that I love at the Agency: empathy, curiosity for everything, rectitude. , weighting of judgment and sense of humor ", reacted the CEO of the press agency, Fabrice Fries, hailing" a wonderful person, in love with life ".

"We are all shocked and devastated by the sudden disappearance of Michele", testified Phil Chetwynd, who succeeded him in the direction of the information, evoking "not only a remarkable journalist, but also a courageous chief of the drafting of the 'AFP, much admired for its honesty and integrity.

Former AFP CEO Emmanuel Hoog, who had appointed her director of information in 2014, praised "her intellectual elegance" and "her sense of the general interest".

"She carried high the torch of AFP and the job of agency," he said, recalling in particular her commitments in favor of ethics and her "love" of journalism.

A graduate in economics and from the Journalists' Training Center (CFJ), Michèle Léridon began her career as a journalist in the written press, before joining AFP in 1981, where she worked in particular in the media section, then accomplished missions in West Africa.

- Feminist struggles -

She then founded the Cities-Banlieues section, before being appointed deputy director of the Abidjan office.

In this capacity, she covered in particular the conflicts in Liberia and Sierra Leone (1996-1999).

Always posed, with a frank look under her brown hair, she then went on to positions of responsibility, successively becoming deputy editor-in-chief Europe Africa, head of the social information service, then editor-in-chief, and director of the Rome office.

In the summer of 2014, she was appointed director of information, thus reaching the highest editorial post at the agency.

The first woman to hold these positions, Michèle Léridon notably contributed to the development of AFP's video activities and acted in all circumstances to reaffirm the essential dimension of ethics in the work of the teams, in particular through the establishment of 'an ethical charter.

It was under his aegis that AFP became the first major press agency to resolutely engage in the hunt for "fake news", a major turning point in the history of the agency founded in 1944.

She was also a pioneer in several feminist struggles.

Inside the agency, "she was the standard-bearer of a generation of women who fought to break the glass ceiling in positions of responsibility", at a time when the highest positions were held systematically by men, recalls Emmanuel Hoog.

She also launched measures in favor of a better representation of women in the information disseminated by AFP, by pushing the editorial staff to fight against sexist stereotypes.

She was also a director of Reporters Without Borders (RSF) for several years.

In early 2019, she joined the CSA, appointed on the proposal of the President of the National Assembly Richard Ferrand.

Responsible in particular "for the ethics of programs and political pluralism, she had ensured the follow-up of several polls", but also played "a major role in the expansion of the Council's missions with regard to platforms" and social networks, in particular as regards the fight against infox, "thus contributing to the transformation of an institution which it will have marked of its imprint", summarized the CSA.

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