April 09, 2021
Best of the States
Exclusive data analysis, reporting on child abuse reveal worrying pandemic trend, heartbreaking tale
A true multiformat team of AP journalists produced this Only on AP piece by tracking down data on child abuse from every state to reveal a worrying trend: Reports of abuse are down while signs of severity are up. The team complemented that dogged data work and hard news with the tragic story of one girl who fell through the cracks during the pandemic.
Acting on information sourced by video journalist Manuel Valdes, Seattle reporter Sally Ho coordinated the 50-state data survey and an ambitious analysis with data journalist Camille Fassett. Ho also read through hundreds of child abuse reports to find the case of 9-year-old Ava Lerario, killed by her father in a small Pennsylvania town. Ho worked with Philadelphia photojournalists Matt Rourke and Matt Slocum, and New York video journalist David Martin, to tell the story of about how the system failed Ava.
The team’s deeply reported package drew remarkably high reader engagement, and many news outlets localized the work using AP’s data distribution.
For exposing another disturbing inequality stemming from the pandemic, Ho and colleagues Valdes, Fassett, Rourke, Slocum and Martin share this week’s Best of the States award.