May 14, 2021

Resolute AP crew in Chad, where not a single shot has been administered, highlights vaccine inequity

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In Chad to cover the sudden death of the country’s longtime president, the AP team of West Africa Bureau Chief Krista Larson, Nigeria-based video journalist Lekan Oyekanmi and photographer Sunday Alamba decided to look at the COVID situation in a country that has yet to administer its first shot. Political unrest made the assignment far more challenging, with police on the hunt for journalists. Alamba and Oyekanmi had already been detained for eight hours and warned not to venture out into the street again.

After days of prodding, the team was granted just a brief interview with medical staff in a hospital conference room. But the all-formats crew pressed the case to see the COVID ward for themselves, eventually winning access. Accounts of bravery and deprivation among overwhelmed medical staff, and the images shot by Alamba and Oyekanmi, speak volumes, highlighting a deep global inequity despite promises by wealthy nations to help vaccinate the world.

For intrepid coverage in the harshest of reporting environments, Larson, Alamba and Oyekanmi win AP’s Best of the Week award.

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Featured Honorable Mention

Creative storytelling brings new life to spectacle of cicadas

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teamed up, using creativity, tenacity and multiformat collaboration to bring a fresh perspective to a widely covered natural phenomenon happening every 17 years.
Borenstein, an AP science writer, had done cicada stories before and knew the timing would be tricky. The bugs emerge only when the temperature is right, usually in mid-May. He and Ritzell, an animator and video journalist on the Health and Science team, began hours of Zoom interviews with bug scientists in mid-March.
Meanwhile, Washington-based photographer Carolyn Kaster made it her mission to document the bugs she called “beautifully weird.” She had first encountered the Brood X cicadas 17 years ago in Pennsylvania and knew they would be a challenging subject — if she could find them. Kaster reached out to an EPA scientist and photographed undergraduate students who were sticking thermometers into the ground to find the places where cicadas would soon be emerging. She found some nymphs that she photographed as they matured, and for a week she went out every night looking for mature bugs and their telltale red eyes.
Adding a key element, Health & Science video journalist Kathy Young and Ritzel produced an animated video explainer on the life cycle of cicadas. The animation, guest-narrated by Allen Breed, was built around the colorful soundbites of a University of Maryland entomologist describing the cicadas’ life cycle.
The team’s all-formats package was timed perfectly, just as the bugs were starting to emerge in some places. Borenstein and Kaster followed up several days later with an illustrated FAQ explainer on cicadas.
The package created buzz on social media and was among the week’s most-viewed stories on AP News, while the animation and the newsroom video were used globally, including South Korea and India among others.
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