Feb. 05, 2021
Best of the Week
With sourcing, preparedness, AP breaks news on death of pioneering actress Cicely Tyson
AP national writer Hillel Italie took a call Thursday evening from a longtime source with an unexpected tip: Groundbreaking actress Cicely Tyson, known for her roles playing strong, fiercely dignified Black women, was dead.
Italie set off to get the news on the wire quickly, while also alerting colleagues. That included entertainment writer Mark Kennedy who had met Tyson years earlier. Kennedy had decided that when the time came, the AP obituary would have to capture the breadth and achievement of her life and career. And he had prepared just that.
The AP story moved at least 15 minutes before other outlets, earning more than 265,000 page views and front page headlines.
Celebrity obituaries are intensely competitive; Italie and Kennedy kept AP well in front, through source work, commitment and solid preparation. For that, they win AP’s Best of the Week award.