Chief photographer Han Guan Ng and video producer Olivia Zhang rushed to the site of the Eastern China Airlines crash on a remote mountainside in southwest China, teaming up with colleagues in AP’s Beijing bureau to deliver nonstop coverage over several days. Their work was notable for its breadth, multiple live shots and video exclusives despite the country’s restrictive reporting conditions.
Zhang shot exclusive video of frustrated relatives blocked from the crash site, offering a glimpse of the difficulties they initially faced. And on a controlled media tour, Ng shot exclusive video from a moving car of a woman crying loudly, supported by others, before security officials blocked the view with umbrellas. At the same time, Zhang sent live video from the tour — the first access to the area granted to non-state media — enabling the bureau to turn around a fast edit for customers. AP was also the only agency with a live transmission of authorities’ first news conference.
Enterprise team member Dake Kang was on vacation near the departure city and headed to the airport, where he shot video of a restricted area for victims’ relatives, also sending photos and a feed for text. The bureau supplemented the AP-sourced material with multiple pickups each day from state broadcaster CCTV, which had better access, including images of the “black box” flight recorders recovered at the site. For text, business writer Joe McDonald, with assists from aviation writer David Koenig, wrote four explainers that put the crash into the broader context of China’s aviation industry and safety record and detailed the role of investigators.
AP’s video, live and edited, was heavily used by customers, and the spot stories were among the top four viewed on the AP News app and site over the first two days. Even three days after the crash, the running spot story had strong reader engagment.