Brittany Peterson landed an exclusive on an emerging threat to an endangered fish a few weeks after leading a large, all-formats package on conservationists’ efforts to protect the species on the Colorado River.
In June, Peterson, a video journalist on the water team, joined forces with environmental reporter John Flesher for an in-depth text story on efforts to protect the ancient humpback chub fish. The species, endemic to the Colorado, is threatened by non-native predator fish due to the effects of climate change.
For that package, Peterson spent a few days on the Colorado with researchers, demonstrating AP’s commitment to the subject. She reported in all formats, then worked with climate photo editor Alyssa Goodman on the presentation and with Flesher and climate team accountability editor Ingrid Lobet on the text edit.
The strength of that immersive package led directly to a scoop a few weeks later when Brian Healy, a fisheries biologist for the Grand Canyon National Park, reached out to Peterson with the news: Just as officials feared, non-native predator fish had made their way into waters inhabited by the humpback chub.
“I haven’t talked to anyone else from the press,” he texted her. “You did such a great job on the last one that I thought you would be the best to contact.”
Peterson and Lobet quickly went to work delivering the exclusive. The fate of the humpback chub is something periodically covered by many news organizations, including heavyweights like the Los Angeles Times. But this scoop on the presence of the predators, particularly smallmouth bass, went unmatched. The piece was second overall for pageviews on AP News the day it moved, beaten out only by the resignation of English Prime Minister Boris Johnson.
The story also played widely with customers, including the front page of the Weather Channel, as well as the Miami Herald and papers across the West. Two LA Times environmental reporters, direct competitors on the beat, tweeted the story with credit to the AP and Peterson.