Strong sourcing on the federal prisons beat led to a major scoop on the Derek Chauvin stabbing, putting AP ahead of all other news organizations for nearly an hour and becoming the most-read news story on APNews.com for the week, with nearly 1 million page views.
It started with a call from a longtime source to law enforcement reporter Michael Sisak, alerting him that yet another high-profile inmate had been attacked in a federal prison. Derek Chauvin, the Minneapolis police officer convicted of murdering George Floyd, had been stabbed at the Federal Correctional Institution in Tucson, Arizona. Sisak, whose reporting has exposed myriad issues in the federal prison system, quickly worked to gather additional details and fleshed out a story providing key context about prior incidents at the prison and security and staffing concerns that preceded the attack.
When he received the tip, Sisak reached out to law enforcement editor Mike Balsamo, and the two began calling additional sources for additional details. At the same time, Sisak began preparing a story with the information he had and important background about systemic issues in the federal prison system, many of which have been exposed by AP reporting.
The Bureau of Prisons confirmed an inmate had been attacked at the prison but would not provide any other information. Sisak went back to the source and learned additional details, including that Chauvin had been stabbed by another inmate and was seriously injured. AP’s news alert moved to the wire at 8:53 p.m., with a 750-word story moving less than a minute later.
AP’s news alert echoed around the world, with nearly every major news organization in the U.S. crediting the AP for the scoop. It took nearly an hour for any other news organization to match the AP’s reporting, and NBC News, ABC and CNN credited the AP on air. Reuters also attributed the news to the AP in their reporting.
The story immediately rocketed on social platforms and generated outside media interviews from several news organizations.
For incredible source work in the federal prisons that led to a major scoop on Derek Chauvin being stabbed in an Arizona prison, law enforcement reporter Mike Sisak is this week’s Best of the Week — Second Winner.