Years of source work combined with diligent planning allowed the AP to get the jump, then stay ahead on one of the week’s biggest stories, the bankruptcy filing of the Boy Scouts of America.
David Crary heard from his legal sources that something big was coming for the Boy Scouts of America, which was besieged by sexual abuse lawsuits: a bankruptcy filing.
Weeks before the paperwork was filed in Delaware, the New York-based national writer, who has been covering the organization for 20 years, set into motion plans to ensure the AP was well-covered. Crary has broken news on the Scouts beat before. He’s written about former Scouts opening up about abuse they suffered in the organization and about the organization’s path to the bankruptcy.
With his advanced knowledge, Crary worked up sharply written prep that nailed the gravity of the filing and the reasons behind it. The filing came out late on a holiday, while Crary was on a reporting trip in Brownsville, Texas. Thanks to the preparedness, the story was rapidly filed to members and updated several times after midnight. One-thousand context-filled words were on the wire within eight minutes of the late-night alert, positioning AP for the day ahead.
Salt Lake City supervisory correspondent Brady McCombs spent the next day gathering reaction from Scouts, local councils and attorneys, spinning it into an engaging follow. That story included material from Delaware, where correspondent Randall Chase attended the Scouts' first hearing in bankruptcy court. Reporters around the country also pitched in, with video journalist John Mone, reporter Michael Rubinkam in Pennsylvania and East Region news associate Sophia Eppolito finding valuable voices for the story.
The play was big: The first-day story was No. 1 on the AP News app, with more than 180,000 page views. It was used on member sites more than 1,200 times, and had millions of shares, likes and posts on social media. The follow-up story had more than 60,000 views on AP News and was the site’s second-most-engaged story of the day.
For their careful planning and flawless execution of coverage of the Scouts bankruptcy, Crary, McCombs and Chase win this week’s Best of the States award.