A multiformat team across AP marked a watershed moment for one of the most important pieces of civil rights legislation in U.S. history by highlighting the voices of those who had been on the front lines of the struggle for voting rights and showing the impact of efforts to undermine the law.
June was the 10-year anniversary of a U.S. Supreme Court decision that overturned a major portion of the 1965 Voting Rights Act and also was when the court was due to make another decision with the potential to gut much of what remained of the law.
Lead elections reporter Christina Cassidy teamed with race and voting reporter Ayanna Alexander to explain what has happened to voting rights since the decision a decade ago, a story that included an exclusive analysis showing how certain states had moved to restrict voting. Many of those efforts almost certainly would have been thwarted without the Supreme Court’s earlier ruling. The accompanying graphic by artist Kevin Vineys visualized how the states that once were required to get federal approval for election changes had passed 14 new restrictive laws, on everything from mail voting to ID requirements.
The full package moved ahead of the expected court ruling, which narrowly went in favor of Black voters in a congressional redistricting case out of Alabama.
In a separate series of stories, reporter Gary Fields identified people who were instrumental in the voting rights movement six decades ago, including some who were present when then-President Lyndon Johnson signed the act into law. Fields conducted in-person interviews in three states and the District of Columbia. He also coordinated with Alabama statehouse reporter Kim Chandler on an interview with a woman who was just 14 when she was clubbed by police during a march that would prove pivotal in the voting rights movement.
Fields worked with Jack Auresto and Mike Pesoli of the Washington video team to get all their voices on camera. Pesoli edited them into a main video and separates for each text vignette. Jon Elswick on the Washington photo desk curated a large photo package that included a rich collection of archive photos from the period. Joshua Housing of the Digital News team worked with the various elements to create a visually appealing presentation, while Bridget Brown developed a social plan that helped promote the package widely and make it one of the AP’s best performers for the week on certain platforms.
Ron Vample, executive producer in Broadcast News, created audio clips that featured a narration by Fields and stories told by some of his interview subjects. A Localize It guide by Cassidy and the Local News Success team explained how AP customers could tailor the package to their own audience.
For a package that resonated broadly and got ahead of the story, Fields, Cassidy, Alexander, Pesoli, Elswick, Brown and Housing win this week’s Best of the Week — Second Winner.