AP staffers are often called the “Marines of journalism.” First in, last out.
Our small team in New Zealand of Mark Baker and Nick Perry showed what that looks like as they responded to horrific mass shootings at two mosques. Their swift response securing early, definitive images and witness accounts laid the foundation for the AP’s dominant, agenda-setting coverage of the tragedy in the hours and days that followed.
Baker, the Southeast Asia photo editor known widely as “Crusty,” lives in Christchurch, the town where the attack happened. He heard radio reports of a possible shooting at a mosque and quickly alerted Perry, the Wellington correspondent, to get words on the wire. Baker headed immediately to the scene, where his early images of survivors became the definitive shots of a tragedy that unfolded while much of the world was asleep. He handed his iPhone to witnesses, so Perry could interview them while he kept shooting. When he got his phone back, he started filming video, including a crucial interview with a former mosque president who gave an account of the shooter and the tragedy that unfolded.
Baker’s photos fronted the New York Times website and were surprisingly used by the New Zealand Herald, and received heavy use among customers across the world: The Washington Post, The Guardian, The Wall Street Journal, El Pais, the Los Angeles Times and UAE’s The National all went with AP.
Back in Wellington, Perry aggressively filed on breaking developments while video producer Moussa Moussa in Sydney, Australia, juggled additional video from New Zealand broadcasters. Perry eventually went to Christchurch, where he scored another major win for AP by interviewing an Afghan refugee who would be hailed as a hero for confronting the gunman, likely preventing more deaths. The New York Times and CNN later matched Perry’s story, while a correspondent from another major outlet sheepishly asked Perry for the man’s contact details.
Asia quickly deployed reinforcements, with cross-format teams ensuring AP kept up its advantage on the ground while colleagues from afar kept the story fresh as Asia slept.
For their quick response that showcased AP’s fundamental advantage when news breaks across the world, Baker and Perry share AP’s Best of the Week award.