Law enforcement reporter Mike Sisak and news editor Mike Balsamo’s persistent public records work, coupled with strong expertise and collaboration across the newsroom helped land exclusive reporting detailing Jeffrey Epstein’s final days before he took his life while incarcerated at a federal jail in New York.
Balsamo worked with U.S. News assignment managers Jill Bleed and Alina Hartounian to assemble a group of reporters across the U.S. to help read through nearly 4,000 pages of documents released in response to AP’s longstanding Freedom of Information Act request. Sisak, who has covered Epstein’s jail suicide since 2019, took the lead culling feeds and pulling together a story as the team of eight others — Sarah Brumfield, Ben Finley, Jake Offenhartz, Brooke Schultz, Gene Johnson, Sam Metz, Russ Bynum and Assistant News Director David Caruso — read through the thousands of pages of documents, pulling out new tidbits of information.
The documents obtained provided the most complete accounting to date of Epstein’s detention, his death and its chaotic aftermath. The reporting also helped to dispel the many conspiracy theories surrounding Epstein’s suicide and underscored how fundamental failings at the federal prison agency contributed to Epstein’s death.
The ability to harness reporting power across the U.S coupled with expertise gave AP a major advantage both with speed and with providing the important context around the records. The story was the top traffic driver of the week by page views and had a strong presence across platforms thanks to collaboration with the digital audiences team.