Best of the AP

Best of the Week - First Winner May 20, 2022

AP Exclusive: Inside the 11-day search for escaped Alabama inmate and his jailer accomplice

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As the search for Alabama fugitives Casey White and Vicky White captured the attention of the world, Washington-based federal law enforcement reporter Mike Balsamo reached out, working his network of sources in the Justice Department and the U.S. Marshals Service for details.

Balsamo also connected with the U.S. marshal for the Northern District of Alabama, knowing he would be the person most likely to have the inside information that would enable AP to put together a clear timeline of a messy escape saga littered with gaps and confusing accounts.

That contact turned out to be pivotal after the pursuit came to a violent end in Indiana on May 9. The marshal’s exclusive account of the 11-day search, coupled with details Balsamo picked up from other sources, gave AP a story rich with previously unreported detail and context. It also made for an exceptionally easy-to-follow narrative. The resulting story played widely, from Alabama to Australia.

For using all his resources to distinguish AP’s coverage on this extremely competitive story, Mike Balsamo is AP’s Best of the Week – First Winner.

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Best of the Week - Second Winner May 20, 2022

All-formats AP team reports on COVID-19 widows in Africa facing hardship, abuse, stigma

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West Africa Bureau Chief Krista Larson had seen on previous reporting assignments how women in the region often face abuse upon being widowed. So when statistics showed how many more men were dying of COVID-19 than women, she set out to report on the treatment of these widows. But on a continent where few are even willing to publicly acknowledge their loved ones died of the virus, the process of finding women who would agree to be interviewed proved extremely challenging.

Larsen worked with colleagues and freelancers in Nigeria, Guinea and Congo to find subjects for the story. Nearly everyone they contacted declined, but eventually they found widows who were willing to talk despite the cultural taboos and societal pressure to keep such family matters private. The resulting all-formats package revealed how extensive the practice of widow abuse is in Africa regardless of religion or economic class.

For determined, insightful reporting that highlights a previously unseen aspect of the pandemic’s unequal impact on women, the team of Larson, Asadu, Diallo, Delay, Sawasawa, Oyekanmi and Kabumba earns AP’s Best of the Week — Second Winner honors.

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