In September 2001, the AP came together for an unprecedented news challenge that ushered in a new era. Twenty years later it reconvened to help make sense of the world that 9/11 left behind. It did so with style, substance and an unerring customer focus — and by harnessing the power of the global news organization.
Managing Editor Brian Carovillano had called for coverage that captured the 20th anniversary of 9/11 in a focused way, chronicling the changes in the world without being merely a look back. AP’s news staff was up to the challenge, starting last spring with brainstorming sessions that involved colleagues across the world. Robust communication with customers, who wanted their material early, was baked into the process from the outset, as was a platform that showcased content, including coveted archival video and an astonishing array of freshly curated photos, eagerly sought by AP’s members and clients.
Throughout the summer, staffers worked to capture a variety of themes, among them: the rise of conspiracy theories, changes in air travel, the experiences of Muslim Americans over the past 20 years and ways of remembering 9/11.
Longtime Afghanistan correspondent Kathy Gannon took a break from dangerous spot coverage to write the opening installment of the anniversary package, and the “centerpieces” that moved in advance of Sept. 11 represented AP coverage at its very best: global, multiformat, customer-focused and brimming with the expertise of journalists who have covered their respective disciplines for years, if not decades. Each day brought innovative video, compelling photos, insightful writing and a new, richly designed digital presentation bringing it all together.
Meanwhile, a parallel track of coverage captured other important themes, including how 9/11 is taught in an era of disinformation, what is happening at the detention center in Guantanamo Bay, the legacy of wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, and how the health concerns at ground zero are playing out two decades later. Newly revealing first-person accounts from AP staffers who were there that day showed what it was like to live through Sept. 11.
The work was amplified by sharp curation and advance social media work. And on the anniversary itself, AP’s East Region and Washington bureau collaborated to chronicle a nation still in mourning but also moving on.