The Nairobi team’s coverage of the deadly extremist attack on a hotel complex was a textbook example of cross-format journalism that put the AP ahead on every element of a major breaking story: an extremist attack on a hotel complex that left 21 people dead, in addition to the five attackers.
From the first blasts, gunfire and panicked phone calls, the Nairobi bureau immediately assumed a terror attack and aggressively mobilized resources. Senior video producer Khaled Kazziha called freelance video journalist Joe Mwihia, who sped through snarled traffic on a motorbike and slipped into the scene with Kenyan special forces, filming exclusive footage as officers cleared rooms, guns drawn, and ran down rumors of a grenade. His three hours of exclusive reporting earned him the byline on the text story as editors compiled the story based on his detailed contributions.
Meanwhile, staff video journalist Josphat Kasire rushed to the scene with a LiveU and quickly scooped competitors with the first live shot showing burning cars, injured people, survivors fleeing in droves and witness accounts. His compelling footage became the heart of the text story, and the live images continued overnight as the roughly 20-hour attack unfolded.
Contributing to the outstanding video coverage were freelance cameraman Idi Ali Juma, freelance camera assistant Moses Ndungu and freelance producers Geoffrey Kaviti and Desmond Tiro.
“Sheer bravery,” AP international editor Ian Phillips called it in The Definitive Source blog.
Around the same time, Nairobi photographers Ben Curtis and Khalil Senosi captured gripping images of people fleeing the mayhem, security forces aiming weapons at attackers, bodies slumped at tables in a café and, later, mourners burying the body of a victim, among dozens of other standout photos.
Kazziha also obtained surveillance footage of the attackers entering the complex, giving the AP an 11-hour scoop on competitors. The play for the photos, video and text was off the charts, including major client Sky News running live and packaged videos on a day busy with Brexit news.
For their formidable breaking news coverage across all formats, the Nairobi team of Kazziha, Curtis, Senosi, Mwihia, Kasire, Ali Juma, Tiro, Kavita and Ndungu wins AP’s Best of the Week.
Special citation: Mohamed Ben Khalifa
The Best of the AP committee has also awarded a special lifetime citation to Libya freelance photographer and video journalist Mohamed Ben Khalifa, who died Jan. 19 when the military convoy with which he was traveling came under missile fire in southern Tripoli.
Ben Khalifa, 35, a beloved figure in the community of journalists in war-wracked Libya, had worked frequently for AP since 2014. His images conveyed the arc of tragedy in his home country, from refugee corpses washing ashore on the Libyan coast to the ferocious militia warfare in and around Tripoli.
The committee honored Ben Khalifa for the body of his work, carried out with integrity and courage for The Associated Press and his other media clients.