It started with a report that turned out to be false – that the Fujairah port in the United Arab Emirates was burning. That set off aggressive, yet cautious coverage by AP's staff in Dubai, Tehran and Baghdad, bringing facts and unique perspectives to the tense and escalating situation in the Persian Gulf, often well ahead of the competition.
When official word later came that four oil tankers had been damaged in a “sabotage” attack in the water off the UAE, Persian Gulf and Iran News Director Jon Gambrell reached out to sources who provided AP with satellite images. Gambrell knew from previous coverage of Iran’s satellite and missile launches that he needed to quickly secure satellite imagery of the tankers, ensuring that AP’s customers got the details. He also sent his own photos of oil shipping activity off the coast of the UAE.
As tensions between Iran, its neighbors and the United States ratcheted up, Gambrell and Mideast News Director Karin Laub leveraged AP’s resources in the country to report first that Iran had quadrupled its uranium enrichment. A story by New York Health and Science reporter Malcolm Ritter on the science of uranium enrichment complemented the piece.
In Tehran meanwhile, producer Mehdi Fattahi, reporter Nasser Karimi and photographer Vahid Salemi put together a video, photo and text piece on the mood of people on the streets of the capital that could not be matched by a major wire service competitor. The team, which included reporters Qassim Abdul-Zahra and Bassem Mroue in Baghdad, and Karimi in Tehran, was also first to report an FAA warning that Iran could misidentify commercial flights in the region.
While the team relied on a variety of resources to report and break news, its restraint in not prematurely reporting that Exxon Mobil had evacuated its staff in the region helped maintain the AP’s credibility.
Many hands worked together for AP’s success. Other important contributors to the coverage were Aya Batrawy, Malak Harb, Fay Abuelgasim, Amir Vahdat, Ebrahim Noroozi, Mohammad Nasiri, Mohsen Ganji and Saeed Sarmadi.
The teams were aggressive on reporting other developments, ensuring that clients had video and text coverage of tweets by President Donald Trump and Iranian officials, as well as closely monitoring the U.S. Department of Defense's DVIDS handout service.
Customers around the globe relied on AP’s coverage, with Al-Jazeera English breaking in to report the AP’s uranium scoop. Both video and text stories proved popular with customers on APNewsroom, on the app and AP’s website.
For smart judgment, planning and effective use of AP’s resources to break news and bring facts to a region on edge, Gambrell, Abdul-Zahra, Fattahi, Mroue, Karimi and Salemi win AP’s Best of the Week, with the support of their colleagues and contributors in the region.