It began with a photograph showing one of the London Bridge attackers lying dead with a police officer standing over him. The Associated Press had bought it from a freelancer and now wanted to interview him. When it proved difficult to reach him by phone, AP producer Natalia Gohl friended him on Facebook and discovered something even more extraordinary: nine minutes of harrowing video of police hunting for the attackers that he streamed live during the assault.
Gohl’s discovery of the video and the intense negotiations that followed led to the global exclusive.
Gohl’s discovery – the feed was private and had only a few hundred views – and the intense negotiations that followed to obtain the video led to a global exclusive. It is the Beat of the Week.
On Saturday night, the AP bought the photograph, non-exclusively, from freelancer Gabriele Sciotto and wanted to interview him. He said he was traveling to Paris the next day and that he’d be available for an interview then. Paris-based freelancer Milos Krivokapic got in contact with Sciotto, who said to call him back in the evening. He then didn’t take Krivokapic’s calls.
Gohl, who is based in London, found Sciotto on Facebook. He accepted her friend request. The video on his page was striking, a narration of the events in English and his native Italian from the heart of Borough Market, the scene of vicious knife attacks, as police searched for the attackers. It showed police firing their weapons, panicked people fleeing, and officers helping the injured limp toward safety.
View an edited version of the footage here.
Throughout the evening, Gohl, Executive Producer Tanja Popovic and Europe Deputy News Director Niko Price talked to Sciotto by phone, offering to buy the video. Sciotto accepted the offer verbally, but wouldn’t commit to signing anything. He finally took a call from Krivokapic to meet him in front of City Hall in Paris to do the interview close to midnight.
To get a commitment from the freelancer, Krivokapic told him about the AP and its extensive video archives.
They did it, but Sciotto still was noncommittal about providing AP the video, and his friend told Krivokapic that others were making more attractive offers. Krivokapic told Sciotto about the AP since Sciotto seemed to be motivated mainly by his values and by his wish to ensure the video’s place in history. Krivokapic told him of the AP’s extensive video archives.
Shortly afterward, Gohl got Sciotto back on the phone and, in consultation with Popovic and intake editor Nino Bantic, raised the AP’s monetary offer. He accepted and gave AP the dramatic video.
AP’s customers in the United Kingdom made extensive use of it, with Sky News broadcasting it four times for an extraordinary five minutes each time. It was also used extensively elsewhere – more than 760 times on 106 channels, and counting.
For their work in securing for audiences worldwide a video that gave an extensive, on-the-scene look at the deadly attack and the police response, Gohl and Krivokapic win this week’s $500 prize.