When gunfire breaks out, AP responds, whether in the United States, which is suffering an epidemic of mass shootings, or in Serbia, where there were hardly any mass shootings — until last week.
In Cleveland, Texas, a man gunned down five people in a house after they complained about him firing a gun and disturbing a sleeping baby. Days later, even as AP journalists were wrapping up reporting on the victims, a man opened fire at shoppers at an outlet mall near Dallas, killing eight people. In between those horrific events, seven people were found shot to death in neighboring Oklahoma. In Serbia, when word emerged of a school shooting in Belgrade that killed eight students and a security guard, AP jumped into action. Within a half-hour, AP was the first to break the news to an international audience. The very next day, staffers had to rush to the scene of another mass shooting that killed eight people.
In Texas and Oklahoma — the only two states in one of the U.S. reporting regions — AP staff covered three mass shootings and the deaths of eight people who were mowed down by a speeding vehicle.
Austin-based reporter Paul Weber quickly confirmed the first killings in Cleveland, Texas. Houston-based reporter Juan Lozano, photographer David Phillip and video journalist Lekan Oyekanmi reported from the scene, telling the world how the five victims were immigrants from Honduras who came to the U.S. for a better life, only to meet their deaths. In Oklahoma, Sean Murphy drove to Henryetta where seven bodies had been found at a ranch and produced a stream of multiformat coverage.
Dallas-based Jake Bleiberg then learned from a federal source about Saturday’s shooting at a mall. He and photographer Mat Otero rushed to the scene, where Bleiberg began piecing together witness accounts in video, audio and text as Otero made dramatic photos. Becky Boone in Boise, Idaho, contributed interviews by phone. The next morning video journalist Kendria LaFleur provided live video as people built makeshift memorials.
On Sunday, an SUV slammed into the group of people in Brownsville, Texas. Reporter Valerie Gonzalez quickly confirmed the deaths and learned that most of the victims were migrants who had stayed in an adjacent shelter the night before, and provided text and video coverage.
In Serbia, the AP team displayed textbook, stellar coverage of not just one but two mass shootings that left 17 people dead in the span of 48 hours. By the time reporter Jovana Gec filed the first alert on the school shooting, photographer Darko Vojinovic was already on the scene and filing the first photos. Videographer Ivana Bzganovic established a live shot within 40 minutes after the shooting. As reporter Dusan Stojanovic fed updates, regional news director Amer Cohadzic, satellite engineer Zenel Zhinipotoku and video journalist Florent Bajrami deployed a satellite dish from Kosovo. Producer Radul Radovanovic and cameraman Vojislav Stjepanovic brought additional LiveU units from Bosnia, where photographer Armin Durgut deployed from.
Within hours, three simultaneous live video shots were established, giving AP unbeatable advantage over the competition. As the story progressed with explainers of gun policies in Serbia and political context of the school massacre, on the next night, the second mass shooting occurred in villages south of Belgrade, leaving eight dead. Stojanovic alerted the news first. Durgut and two video teams composed of Marko Dronjakovic, Stjepanovic and Radovanovic deployed with two LiveU units to villages in the middle of the night. Bzganovic edited video from the live shots and captured reactions in Belgrade even as people in Belgrade were mourning the dead students, captured in live video there.
For the all-hands-on-deck strong coverage, under very trying circumstances of multiple mass killings, the Serbia, Texas and Oklahoma bureaus win Best of the Week — Second Winner.