The AP reported exclusively on 25 Easter Islanders who were stranded far from home for more than six months because their flights had been canceled during the coronavirus. Within two weeks of AP’s story, authorities in France, French Polynesia and Chile repatriated the stranded travelers on a French military plane.
The story began when newsman Nick Perry in New Zealand learned about the group and their situation on a French Polynesia Facebook page he monitors. He collaborated with colleague Eva Vergara in Santiago, Chile, who was able to conduct interviews in Spanish and provide context from the Chilean side. Also helping out with the back-and-forth translations was Eduardo Castillo, the director of the Spanish service on AP’s Latin America desk.
The repatriation of the islanders was more significant and rewarding than story metrics or a win over the competition, providing a welcome moment of brightness during the global pandemic.