“How quickly can you and your boss get here?”
The curt text message to Joshua Goodman from Venezuela’s normally evasive communications minister promised a tantalizing scoop depending on the answer.
The message set Goodman and Ian Phillips, vice president for international news, on an intercontinental dash in order to secure embattled Venezuela President Nicolas Maduro’s first-ever interview with an English-language news agency – and this week’s Best of the Week.
Goodman, AP’s Andean News Director, was on a tightly packed reporting trip to Miami when the message arrived. Phillips met Goodman in Miami and the pair flew to Caracas. On two hours of sleep they interviewed Maduro, resulting in a dominating all-formats beat for the AP.
The interview revealed Maduro’s foreign minister had twice met secretly in New York with a Trump administration envoy. It came against the backdrop of tense relations between Venezuela and the U.S., which has joined other Latin American nations in calling for the leader’s ouster. While harshly criticizing the U.S. stance toward his socialist government, Maduro said he holds out hope of meeting President Donald Trump to resolve the crisis over U.S. recognition of Juan Guaido, Venezuela’s self-declared leader.
Maduro addressed the turmoil directly, as well as his country’s humanitarian crisis, telling Goodman and Phillips that he was preparing to sell more oil to India and praising Venezuela’s ties to China and Russia.
Goodman’s scoop came as the result of years of source development with the Venezuelan government, including sitting through Maduro’s hours-long news conferences, cultivating pro-government sources and making sure cabinet ministers saw that AP’s coverage of the nation was fair and balanced.
The story was a massive draw for customers, with video of the interview downloaded more than 840 by clients around the world, including ABC, Univision, and Fox News, which had been angling for its own sit down with Maduro. In a surprise first, Venezuelan state TV also carried the 42-minute interview in its entirety in prime time and clips were still being replayed four days later.
For his masterful source development, resourcefulness and quick work to put the AP ahead, Goodman wins AP’s Best of the Week award.