March 17, 2023

Best of the Week — First Winner

AP shows why young Americans are shunning college

News outlets had widely reported a drop in U.S. college enrollment, but nobody had really explained why. Education reporter Collin Binkley and Ohio-based video journalist Patrick Orsagos figured the best way to find out was to talk with young adults themselves.   

Binkley won a grant from the Education Writers Association and traveled with Orsagos to western Tennessee, where the pair conducted cross-format interviews with high school graduates whose stories exposed the reasons behind the trend: The high cost of higher education. Fear of student debt. A hot job market. General disillusionment with education after high school experiences disrupted by the pandemic and school closures.   

The story sparked wide discussion about the cost of college, the need for reform in higher education and the relevance of a bachelor’s degree in today’s economy. The day after publication the story landed on Reddit’s “popular” page, thanks to a post on the “Futurology” subreddit that received more than 25,000 upvotes and 3,000 comments. It appeared on at least 21 newspaper front pages, with good play on The Tennessean, The Jackson Sun, The Columbus Dispatch, The Roanoke Times and the Ithaca Journal, among others.

The story was tweeted by several members of Congress, including Sen. Marco Rubio. Parents, professors and other readers reached out via email and social media, saying the story resonated with them and demonstrated the need for America’s colleges to offer something young people see value in. And the former admissions director at Jackson State Community College offered to advise one of the students in the story on her college options; that student said she plans to contact him.  

For going to the source to find the reasons behind a major trend, Binkley and Orsagos share this week’s Best of the Week — First Place honors.

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March 10, 2023

Best of the Week — First Winner

Rehab on hold: COVID devastates prison learning programs

When COVID-19 hit, tearing through prisons and killing thousands, it severely disrupted or shut down the very programs prisoners desperately need to prepare them for eventual release. Trauma counseling, college courses, and job training in carpentry, masonry and barbering were slow to adjust to pandemic learning. Isolation and uncertainty replaced creative outlets and mental health therapies for months on end. National Writer Aaron Morrison and video journalist Noreen Nasir paired with Los Angeles photographer Jae C. Hong to explore the problem through a behind-the-scenes look at a California prison.

Visual access inside U.S. prisons is extremely rare; Morrison got the AP access using connections with sources. The team was particularly mindful of how to humanize the men beyond just their blue uniforms and tattoos, especially as they expressed themselves with such vulnerability through the intensive therapy work and programs.

For extraordinary work that allowed AP’s audience to see the impact of the COVID epidemic in prisons, Morrison, Nasir and Hong share Best of the Week — First Winner honors.

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Feb. 03, 2023

Beat of the Week

(Honorable Mention)

Has tipping gone too far? Depends if you're a consumer or a worker

seized on a trend that garnered strong opinions from many when they are asked to tip everywhere they go, resulting in an organic and relatable story that generated tons of buzz even several days after it was published. She interviewed consumers – including one who complained about being asked to tip her mortgage company – and dug into the issue of etiquette and whether it's ok to walk away. She also talked with a worker who depends on those tips to pay his rent and the disappointment he feels when someone is willing to shell out money for an expensive coffee but not for the person who is serving it.Read more.

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Feb. 10, 2023

Best of the Week — First Winner

AP’s Grammys livestream attracts music’s biggest names, large audience

For innovation and connecting with new audiences, the AP Entertainment video team of West Coast Entertainment Video Editor Ryan Pearson, U.S. Entertainment Video Editor Brooke Lefferts, and video producers Gary Hamilton and Leslie Ambriz are the first winners of this week’s Best of the Week award. The team used its contacts at the Recording Academy to develop and successfully execute a hosted 2 ½-hour red carpet livestream from the Grammy Awards that drew in more than a half million viewers, outpacing rival streaming shows. The AP’s new social video team quickly cut and posted videos from the live feed on a variety of social sites, which garnered nearly 1 million views. The Grammys livestream took weeks of planning and technical assistance to pull off and showed that AP can produce a highly technical live event in the entertainment space, and that entertainers will seek out AP’s spot on a bustling carpet. The video recording of the livestream also will greatly improve the AP’s archive of early hip-hop artists who were not covered by AP in their heyday.

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