March 29, 2024

Best of the Week — First Winner

AP exposes evidence that Burkina Faso security forces massacred civilians

West Africa Correspondent Sam Mednick obtained exclusive accounts from massacre survivors in the remote region of Zaongo in Burkina Faso.

Killings of civilians by security forces happen regularly in Burkina Faso yet are hardly reported amid a brutal war with jihadist rebels. Few survivors are brave enough to speak out and most flee, staying silent under a repressive regime. Government investigations are also rare, and no one is held accountable.

Mednick, who is based in Senegal, was looking into reports of one of many such violent incidents that she had seen video evidence of circulating in WhatsApp groups, when a source in Dakar said he had relatives who survived the massacre and could speak to her.

Through the trusted contact in Senegal, she was able to talk to a family that lived in the area and connect with survivors.

AP was the only media able to get the story and photos of this attack, one of several killings under investigation by the U.N. and government. To date, no one has been held accountable.

Washington-based newsperson Michael Biesecker was able to add reporting on Burkina’s military links to the U.S. and worked closely with Mednick from the start to develop the reporting.

For exposing a crime that was all but impossible to report on, Mednick and Biesecker’s story is Best of the Week — First Winner.

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March 08, 2024

Best of the Week — First Winner

AP beats everyone on Mitch McConnell’s decision to step down

Even before Mitch McConnell began speaking in the well of the Senate on Feb. 28, everyone knew what the majority leader’s historic announcement would be. That was because AP had already delivered the news, beating all the competition.

Deputy Bureau Chief Mike Tackett had obtained McConnell’s remarks in advance, saying that he planned to step down in November to close his run as the longest-serving Senate leader. Tackett also worked out an agreement that AP could publish before McConnell made his announcement on the Senate floor.

Tackett, who is writing a biography on McConnell, worked closely with digital politics editor Katie Vogel and Washington text editor Tom Strong to make sure copy was edited and ready go. When the time came, Strong filed the urgent copy perfectly with the APNewsAlert and full story moving within the same minute.

The news sent a buzz through the Senate floor, and several journalists there asked Tackett how he did it.

Tackett’s source work also enabled Congress reporter Mary Clare Jalonick and chief congressional correspondent Lisa Mascaro to dive straight into the ‘what happens next’ portion of reporting instead of having to focus on the breaking news.

For delivering a package that kept AP ahead of amazed competitors through the day, Tackett, Vogel, Strong, Mascaro and Jalonick are this week’s Best of the Week — First Winner.

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Feb. 23, 2024

Best of the Week — First Winner

AP responds when gunfire erupts at Kansas City Chiefs’ Super Bowl parade

Kansas City’s AP staff was just wrapping up what was supposed to be a day of fun as the city was celebrating the Chiefs’ Super Bowl win with a parade and rally. They were regrouping in the office — and some had family nearby at the parade — when shots rang out.

Photographer Charlie Riedel and video journalist Nick Ingram rushed out the door, while correspondent Heather Hollingsworth tried to confirm what happened. After she alerted that shots had been fired — the first of many alerts on this story — she also raced outside, and days of exhaustive coverage began.

Riedel and stringers sent in photos showing the reality of the shooting’s aftermath — people on stretchers, bloodied and shocked. Ingram went live, interviewing people who were stunned by the violence and gathering background video, or b-roll. Hollingsworth sought out witnesses, while other AP staffers helped from afar, including Oklahoma City correspondent Sean Murphy, who jumped in to help stitch the story together as it was developing.

AP’s coverage was a collaboration across teams and formats for the next several days.

For leaping into a fast-breaking story, supported by colleagues around the United States, Ingram, Hollingsworth and Riedel earn Best of the Week — First Winner.

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