French journalist Michele Leridon, who broke glass ceilings to become the first woman appointed director of global news for Agence France-Presse, has died suddenly at the age of 62, it has been announced Tuesday.
Leridon spent nearly 40 years at the agency before becoming a member of the Conseil Supérieur de l’Audiovisuel (CSA) which oversees French television and radio.
“Woman of conviction, Michèle Leridon was a great journalist, unanimously respected for her rich experience and her great intellectual rigor”, declared the CSA in a press release.
A cause of death was not given.
Leridon joined AFP in 1981 and has held numerous positions in Europe and Africa.
She covered conflicts in Sierra Leone and Liberia in the 1990s and later became the first woman to oversee all of AFP’s coverage of Africa.
After several other senior management positions and a stint as an office manager in Rome, she was appointed Global News Director in 2014, becoming the first woman to hold the first editorial post since the inception of the AFP in 1944.
“Michele taught me a lot when I arrived at AFP, when she was director of Global News,” said CEO Fabrice Fries.
“She embodied the human values that I love at the Agency: empathy, curiosity about everything, integrity, judgment and a sense of humor. She was an extraordinary person, who loved life. “
During her tenure, she lobbied for better representation of women in AFP content, while leading the rapid expansion of her video and fact-checking services.
“We are all shocked and devastated by the sudden loss of Michele,” added Phil Chetwynd, who succeeded Leridon as chief information officer.
“She was not only an outstanding journalist, but also a courageous AFP editorial manager who was greatly admired for her honesty and integrity. It was an absolute pleasure to work alongside him. “
“She was the standard-bearer of a generation of women who fought to break the glass ceiling in positions of responsibility”, added the former CEO of AFP, Emmanuel Hoog, who appointed to the first post.
Leridon, who was also an administrative member of Reporters Without Borders for several years, left AFP in early 2019 to join the CSA, a small group of experts who guide the electronic media.
She played a major role in shaping the ASC’s approach to online platforms and social media and was expected to hold this position until 2025.
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