AP delivers the definitive account of the House select committee’s hearings in a rich, layered package.
An expansive all-formats package followed the arc of the House Jan. 6 committee’s eight public hearings, as Associated Press journalists based in Washington put together a comprehensive and compelling look at the committee’s evidence of U.S. democracy at the edge of a precipice on that day.
Preparation began weeks earlier with D.C.-based videographers Nathan Ellgren and Mike Pesoli researching hours of footage from both the day of the riot and the committee hearings, much of it previously unseen. Reporters Cal Woodward and Eric Tucker did similar research, mining hundreds of pages of transcripts to produce an elegantly written 3,000-word story.
From the outset, the reporters and video journalists were determined to avoid a bland, chronological retelling of the hearings. Instead they organized the package around two themes: the witnesses who said “no” to President Donald Trump’s efforts to undo the election, and the impact the president’s pressure campaign had on average Americans who bore the burden of it.
The team’s research helped focus on specific moments that captured the human impact of the events surrounding Jan. 6, including a team of mother-daughter election workers in Georgia falsely accused by Trump of election-night malfeasance when all they did was hand a mint to each other.
Besides a comprehensive account of the hearings, the mainbar story was replete with clever touches — the reporters added up the number of words in the eight transcripts and measured the length against famous literature that touches on the same themes. The hearings were longer, for example, than George Orwell’s dystopian “1984.”
The video and photo teams produced a combination of 40 minutes of video content, including 11 explainer packages on key moments from the hearings, and a 14-minute comprehensive video timeline from election night 2020 to the insurrection. The videos featured on-camera analysis delivered expertly by Darlene Superville, Farnoush Amiri, Mary Clare Jalonick, Lisa Mascaro, Jacquelyn Martin, Almaz Abedje, Rick Gentilo and Donna Starddard. AP Radio correspondent Sagar Meghani provided up-to-the-minute audio reports.
The text and video were complemented by photos from J. Scott Applewhite, Alex Brandon, Manny Ceneta, Andrew Harnik, Carolyn Kaster, Jacquelyn Martin, Patrick Semansky and Susan Walsh, curated by editors Wayne Partow, Jennifer Kane and Jon Elswick. Peter Hamlin, Dario Lopez and Raghu Vadarevu further elevated the package with animated illustrations and engaging presentation.
As a result, the combination of smart planning, collaboration, sourcing, creativity and beat expertise combined for a truly all-formats package that could serve as a historical resource for future study of the House committee's investigation of the election lie that gave rise to an insurrection.
For sweeping, distinctive multiformat coverage, the team of Tucker, Woodward, Ellgren and Pesoli, supported by a host of others who covered the insurrection and the hearings, earns AP’s Best of the Week — Second Winner.