Paris multiformat journalist John Leicester and photographer Francois Mori were not alone in trying to find a way to capture the essence of France after more than six months of virus lockdown — AP’s Paris bureau pulled out all the stops to cover the reopening of museums, restaurants and other sites in a country famous for its “joie de vivre,” and other news organizations were looking to do the same.
But Leicester and Mori outmaneuvered the competition by securing exclusive access two days beforehand to Monet’s gardens in Giverny where the gardeners were furiously weeding, sewing and planting to make the site picture-perfect for visitors. Leicester’s widely used video package complemented his elegantly written text piece. And Mori, drawing inspiration from Monet, delivered a knock-out package of images that verged on art, evoking the historic setting. The all-formats package played for days around the world, from New York to South Korea to Hong Kong. The piece even netted a rare byline for Mori and Leicester in The Guardian.