How do you know when an interview is getting traction? Here’s one way: The president of the United States brings it up on his own just hours later. That’s what happened after AP White House reporter Darlene Superville interviewed Jill Biden during her visit to Africa.
The first lady gave one of the clearest indications yet that the president will run for a second term. When the president was asked whether he would run again during an interview with ABC later the same day, he began his own answer by referencing the first lady’s comments to Superville.
Superville’s interview, newsy on multiple fronts, was also evidence that sometimes you have to say “no” to get to “yes.” When AP initially declined to accompany the first lady on her travels to Africa, her office started probing for what might reverse that no-go decision. Superville, who had made multiple unsuccessful pitches for an all-formats interview with the first lady over the past two years, said such an interview might make the difference, and the first lady herself agreed to the exclusive sit-down on what turned out to be the one-year anniversary of the war in Ukraine.
Superville crafted a suite of questions designed to elicit news not only on the first lady’s travels in Africa but also on the president’s reelection decision, the war in Ukraine, the first lady’s skin cancer diagnosis, the legacy of Jimmy Carter and education issues like banning books. Superville and AP Deputy Chief of Bureau for video Jack Auresto worked closely on the logistics with the photo and video team in Nairobi, including: Khaled Kazziha, Josphat Kasire, Desmond Tiro, Joseph Mwihia and Brian Inganga. In Washington, White House reporter Chris Megerian backed up Superville on text filing and D.C.-based video journalists Nathan Ellgren and Mike Pesoli handled video in a true AP team effort across formats and continents. The video team in Kenya produced a beautiful two-camera shoot, and producers in Washington got multiple NR and CR edits out quickly.
AP’s Friday interview was exclusive and newsy enough that other news organizations gave it extensive play. U.S. networks, major online news sites and more all quickly quoted the AP with Jill Biden’s comments about her husband’s 2024 prospects, and the first lady was soon trending on Twitter. Among those promoting the interview were Fox News, ABC, NBC, CBS, Forbes, and the Guardian, which did a push alert. The story had legs: NBC’s “Today” show did a 90-second segment on the interview near the top of its show on Saturday, featuring video clips from the conversation. MSNBC featured it prominently Monday on “Morning Joe.”
After the interview was sent to the networks, one ABC news manager told the AP, “My phone is ringing off the hook about the [Jill] Biden running comment.” Beyond the networks, the interview was featured in publications including The Washington Post, The Hill, Huffington Post, Rolling Stone and many local TV stations and newspapers. Almost 370,000 people viewed the interview on AP’s social media. Additionally, the interview received several hundreds of thousands of views from clips posted by other outlets or organizations.
For scoring an exclusive interview that made news on multiple fronts and drove one of the hottest stories of the week, Darlene Superville wins this week’s second Best of the Week.
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