One of the foundations of the Nerve Center is global news coordination — and Deputy Nerve Center Director Tamer Fakahany has been the master of it ever since he helped establish and shape the department in 2010. Fakahany was overseeing the Nerve Center during the overnight shift on Sept. 28 when reports began emerging that Travis King, the U.S. soldier who had crossed for unknown reasons into North Korea in July, was about to return home.
His global news coordination skills came in handy with the news of King’s return from North Korea. When video suddenly popped up from a local affiliate KSAT in San Antonio, Texas, of what appeared to be Travis King arriving back on U.S. soil, Tamer recognized the urgency of the news and woke up Washington Bureau Chief Anna Johnson (apologizing for the 4:20 a.m. call, considering it was after the Republican presidential debate). He moved an APNewsAlert at 4:35 a.m., with an urgent series and photo moving just four minutes later as Tamer worked with Patrick Quinn and Shameka Dudley-Lowe on the international text desk and the photo desk.
Then Fakahany got to work delivering the news through other AP platforms: He wrote and sent the push and instructed the newsletter writer Sarah Naffa to send an email alert while directing Nerve Center producer Lorian Belanger to write breaking social media posts that he then backread. He moved the story to the top of the AP News app and worked with digital to make it No. 1 on APNews.com.
Fakahany also found a sidebar from July on past entries into North Korea and a reporter to update it so we’d have a more robust package. His swift work paid off, with the all-formats story becoming one of the 10 most used of that day by AP customers.
Smart and timely news coordination is the mortar that holds our journalism bricks together, uniting constituencies and geographies to create a whole news report out of sometimes far-flung and disparate pieces. This success was a sterling example of that in action.
For his speed, decisiveness, ingenuity and bringing disparate parts of AP together quickly, Fakahany earns this week’s Best of the Week — Second Winner.