When news broke that a passenger plane in Nepal had plunged into a gorge in the Himalayan foothills, the AP South Asia team swung into action, quickly mobilizing resources for cross-format coverage. Since the Kathmandu correspondent was away on vacation, the Delhi team took charge of filing and coordination, activating stringers and freelancers both in Kathmandu and at the crash site in Pokhara.
Delhi newsperson Sheikh Saaliq filed an alert, following up with quick updates as details of the disaster began trickling in.
Kathmandu video journalist Upendra Mansingh and photo stringer Bikram Rai rushed to the airport where anxious families had started gathering. Freelancers in Pokhara fast-filed video and photos from the crash site to Delhi, turned around for quick transmission by Delhi video journalist Shonal Ganguly, who was also searching online for video.
The team delivered strong images and dramatic video of the smoldering site of Nepal’s worst plane crash in 30 years, including compelling eyewitness accounts.
What made AP’s coverage stand out was the relentless pursuit of permissions to verify story-defining user-generated content by Shonal and photographer Rajesh Kumar Singh.
The first video showed the plane’s descent until it suddenly veered to the left, and Shonal managed to interview the witness who recorded this footage.
The second video was streamed live on Facebook by passenger Sonu Jaiswal as he looked out of a window, showing a violent jolt and a series of jerky images before flames fill the screen.
A fast response, with all formats feeding each other and bringing elements of the story together with an outstanding team effort, helped AP dominate the top story of the day on front pages of multiple global publications.
The New York Times used AP video and photos prominently. The story was among the top headlines on mobile and APnews.com and on Sunday it garnered more than 162,000 pageviews and a high engagement score.
For swift all-format and the push for user-generated content, Mansingh, Saaliq, Ganguly, Singh, Rai, with Yunish Gurung, Krishna Mani Baral, Man Bahadur and Anish Bhattarai in Pokhara, share Best of the Week – Second Winner honors.