Journalists from half a dozen AP teams came together to tell George Floyd’s story in all formats, capturing moments of his life from Houston to Minneapolis.
The story of George Floyd’s death will be told in history books and recognized as a universal catalyst to overhaul policing, his name a chant for those demanding change.
But his life – from a start in Houston’s Cuney Homes public housing to his death in Minneapolis, where he hoped to start a new chapter – wasn’t lived in a spotlight.
Turning to people who knew Floyd throughout his life, journalists from across the AP set out to tell his story:
– Luis Andres Henao, a reporter with AP’s religion team, spoke to pastors and others who knew Floyd from Christian outreach in Cuney Homes, and also reached the teacher who recalled Floyd mentoring her students.
– Juan Lozano, Houston-based reporter, spent time in Cuney, talking to people who grew up alongside Floyd, or who knew him as an adult in Houston.
– Nomaan Merchant, also in Houston, worked the phones and pulled court papers on Floyd.
– Race and ethnicity writer Aaron Morrison fed reporting from those who encountered Floyd in Minneapolis.
– John Mone, Houston-based video journalist, found people throughout Houston who knew him well, and contributed to the text story while also capturing Floyd’s life in video, enhanced by existing footage of Floyd’s own words and action on the football field.
– Adam Geller, from the global enterprise team, tracked down people who knew Floyd at the two colleges he attended and through basketball, as well as in Minneapolis, while sifting through social media posts by Floyd and those who knew him.
Reporters in the field were challenged by the fact that sources were receiving multiple interview requests and were most comfortable speaking about Floyd in fond, but vague terms. They gently pressed their subjects for more detail.
In Houston, meanwhile, photographer David Philip made photos around the neighborhood where Floyd grew up, and in Minneapolis, Baltimore-based Julio Cortez contributed photos of friends, and places where Floyd worked. The images were striking – an unexpected yet fitting way to reveal the character of someone who has died, through his absence.
Geller wove all the reporting into a rich narrative. The resulting profile told the man’s story, including brief turns as a rapper, football player and bouncer, time in prison and days spent trying to help mentor kids to avoid his mistakes.
The package had four minutes of engagement on AP News, and tens of thousands of pageviews, staying near the top of the most-read stories on the site for a week. It was a uniquely AP collaboration between Texas, Minnesota, the race and ethnicity and religion teams, photo and video staffs and the enterprise team.
For persistent, collaborative and creative storytelling that goes to the heart of the tragedy that unfolded in Minneapolis, the multiformat team of Luis Andres Henao, Juan Lozano, Nomaan Merchant, Adam Geller, John Mone, David Phillip and Aaron Morrison shares this week’s Best of the States award.