Best of the AP

Best of the Week - First Winner May 17, 2024

AP discovers torture, the rape of girls and the deliberate capsizing of a boat of Rohingya refugees

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When the boat of about 140 Rohingya refugees fleeing violence in Bangladesh and Myanmar capsized off Indonesia, killing 67 people, the media focused on the rescued and the dead. No one understood why or how the boat capsized. Kristen Gelineau, AP’s Sydney-based global investigations reporter, suspected something had gone very wrong; there were no reports of storms or engine problems. She received tips from two sources that there might have been sexual assaults on board the boat and the captain may have deliberately sunk it. She wanted answers from the survivors themselves.

With Gelineau providing direction from Sydney, Jakarta-based reporter Edna Tarigan flew to Indonesia’s Aceh province to team up with freelance photographer Reza Saifullah, who had photographed the rescue.

The Rohingya are challenging to interview due to their extreme levels of trauma, and the lone survivor of the captain’s sexual assaults was no exception. The 12-year-old girl shared her vital, exclusive account of the horrors on that boat. Over a shaky Zoom connection, a Rohingya translator dialed into the interviews.

The team guaranteed those who wanted anonymity that AP would protect their privacy, and those who were reluctant to be photographed by a man eventually came to trust Saifullah and that his photographs would respect that agreement if that was their wish.

For bringing AP readers the first and only account of the trauma suffered by this group of Rohingya refugees, the reporting by Gelineau, Tarigan and Saifullah is this week’s Best of the Week — First Winner.

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Best of the Week - Second Winner May 17, 2024

AP offers comprehensive and competitive coverage of devastating flooding in Southern Brazil

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After the skies dumped enough rain to fill the airport and bus station of one of Brazil’s largest cities with water, the devastation was widespread. The challenge of telling the world about the floods was just beginning.

With Brazil’s southern state of Rio Grande do Sul completely flooded, AP journalists deployed to a neighboring state and drove six hours to reach the affected area. What they found was a scenario of complete devastation and extremely limited mobility. In spite of that, they were able to reveal the scope of the tragedy that many had been slow to understand.

The team, whose work was supplemented by others reporting remotely and sourcing user-generated content, showed how hundreds of thousands of people were forced from their homes, many of them into shelters, with poor people disproportionately affected. They reported on the fake news spread by political propagandists to undermine rescue efforts. They told the tales of people working to reunite pet owners with thousands of lost pets and chronicled the rescue of a horse stranded on a rooftop that became a symbol of hope for a battered region.

The work was strong across all formats, from a suite of video offerings to nearly a dozen text stories and more than 150 photos.

For delivering a strong cross-format package of offerings despite logistical challenges, the team of Lucas Dumphreys, Mauricio Savarese, Andre Penner, Tatiana Pollastri, Leo LaValle, Gabriela Sá, Carlos Macedo and Eleonore Hughes are this week’s Best of the Week — Second Winner.

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