May 26, 2023

Best of the Week — First Winner

The secret networks that circumvent Honduras’ abortion ban: How an AP team documented the invisible

For years, AP Mexico photo stringer Ginnette Riquelme was aware of clandestine networks helping women obtain abortions in Honduras, where they are banned under all circumstances.   

The locations were hidden, the phones untraceable, the contacts used code words to communicate. But Riquelme had a vision of how — and why — to document something that is both illegal and heavily stigmatized. With a grant from the International Women’s Media Foundation, she joined forces with Honduran journalist Iolany Pérez in El Progreso and Mexico City reporter María Verza.   

Persistence and the ability to build the trust of more than a dozen women who helped or had received the networks’ assistance resulted in a previously unseen composite of an underground system built up over years of prohibition.   

For journalism that illustrates the invisible, and in-depth and unmatched coverage of an issue that resonates far outside Honduras, this team earns Best of the Week — First Winner. 

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Sept. 15, 2023

Best of the Week — First Winner

AP team provides fast — and exclusive — coverage of devastating Morocco earthquake

Sam Metz had been on the job for four days. The newly appointed North Africa reporter had just arrived in Rabat, fresh from Utah, when Morocco’s strongest earthquake in more than a century hit late Friday.

As Metz got alerts and a story going, photographer Mosa’ab Elshamy knew exactly what to do. He organized a car and driver, and the duo headed to the epicenter hours away, navigating rubble-blocked roads. Their all-nighter paid off: AP had the first international journalists on-site.

Both Elshamy and Metz shot video from their phones as Brussels-based video journalist Mark Carlson rushed to get there with a LiveU and satellite phone. Freelancers helped keep AP ahead, while colleagues around the world pitched in on all formats.

AP had the first confirmed death tolls and stayed ahead throughout that crucial first day. Metz’s firsthand accounts and Elshamy’s photojournalism yielded exclusive stories that led websites beyond AP News and topped the Los Angeles Times print edition two days in a row. The Day 1 story was the third-most-viewed story on AP News for that week.

For fast and fearless work under complex circumstances, Metz, Elshamy and Carlson are this week’s Best of the Week — First Winner.

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Aug. 11, 2023

Best of the Week — First Winner

Cross-format reporting keeps AP ahead on coverage of Niger’s coup 

West Africa correspondent Sam Mednick was in Niamey — by chance to make use of a visa nearing expiration — when mutinous bodyguards launched a coup against their president. But her stellar, singlehanded all-formats coverage is due entirely to her extraordinary multimedia skills and perseverance.

Day after day, Mednick produced live video, photos of demonstrations, WhatsApp clips to colleagues and interviews on and off the record to show the importance of the coup in a country that has long been considered a bulwark of democracy against Islamic extremism and autocracy.

The result: A story that Mednick owned alone among international journalists.

For her tireless, astonishing multimedia coverage in a place where few of our competitors, if any, had a presence on the ground, we are honored to award Sam Mednick the Best of the Week — First Winner.

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July 07, 2023

Best of the Week — First Winner

AP goes into overdrive, with honesty and sensitivity, to document a restive France  

The Paris suburb of Nanterre was at the heart of violent protests after a French policeman killed a 17-year-old at a traffic stop, and AP journalists in Paris worked around the clock and at a competitive disadvantage to document the unrest and its aftermath.    

Photographer Christophe Ena was among the first on the scene, taking AP’s first photos and video of flames in Nanterre on the first night and alerting our customers — and competitors — of the gravity of the story. He and a photographer from the European Pressphoto Agency were the only international journalists on the scene at the time and worked together to ensure each other’s safety as tensions rose around them.    

Cara Anna, arriving from Nairobi, was among just a few journalists to cover the boy’s funeral and discreetly filmed a brief video of the cemetery where people were gathering to mourn. It was the only footage published of the event, but also respected the organizers’ request not to have cameras at the funeral itself.    

For sensitive, honest work in unpredictable, often hostile conditions to show a part of France tourists see rarely and understand even less, Ena and Anna earn this week’s first citation for Best of the Week. 

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June 09, 2023

Best of the Week — First Winner

Despite great physical risks, AP delivers searing live coverage of clashes in Kosovo 

Many of the AP’s most iconic images from the 1998–99 war in Kosovo were the products of video crew Vojislav Stjepanovic and Radul Radovanovic in Bosnia.    

Their deep experience meant they knew something big was about to happen when minor disturbances broke out following mayoral victories by ethnic Albanians in Serb-majority towns where Serbs overwhelmingly boycotted the elections.   

Soon, the situation in northern Kosovo unraveled as ethnic Serb demonstrators began clashing with NATO-led peacekeepers. Stjepanovic and Radovanovic were at the heart of the action, documenting the story and broadcasting it live, even with Molotov cocktails and tear gas flying just a stone’s throw away.    

Some journalists fled the scene, and others were targeted while trying to cover the story. Stjepanovic and Radovanovic found a balcony just above the fray that offered a wide view of the clashes, where soldiers were being pelted with rocks and firearms were being discharged. They delivered live shots through it all, a feat unmatched by local channels, let alone international competitors.    

When the violence finally cooled, 30 international soldiers and more than 50 protesters had been injured. The crew delivered 11 hours of live coverage through it, and Belgrade producer Ivana Bzganovic swiftly produced multiple edits that won hundreds of hits.   

For showing immense bravery in providing images no one else could, Stjepanovic, Radovanovic and Bzganovic are this week’s Best of the Week — First Winner.  

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Dec. 02, 2022

Best of the Week — First Winner

Greater China staff delivers swift, compelling coverage of unprecedented lockdown protests

Even by the standards of Chinese state surveillance, the capital of the Xinjiang region stands out for the scope of repression. So, when protests broke out in Urumqi against coronavirus restrictions, AP journalists knew something unusual was happening.

It started with an apartment fire blamed by many on China’s harsh coronavirus measures. Dake Kang, who has covered the region closely for the past five years, scored an early interview with a relative of victims of the fire, beating out competitors. By reaching out to people on the ground online, Taipei-based writer Huizhong Wu confirmed protests that had followed, adding critical eyewitness accounts.

Within 24 hours of the fire, Chinese social media was swamped with anti-government messages – people angry at restrictions that have locked them into their homes for weeks or months at a time, and critically blaming the leadership. In a country where media is restricted, residents are surveilled, and individuals are punished for speaking out against authority, this was extraordinary.

As unrest spread, AP staff in Beijing, Bangkok and Hong Kong used all their tools and cooperated across borders to produce swift, careful coverage of the unprecedented demonstrations, earning Best of the Week 1st winner.

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April 21, 2023

Best of the Week — First Winner

Telling the epic story of perilous migration through one lost boat 

Two years ago, Barcelona video journalist Renata Brito learned of a mysterious boat that had washed up in Tobago with dead men aboard. With that, she and colleague Felipe Dana, a photographer and video journalist, began a dogged quest to find out who the men were, what had happened to them, and what heartbreak and unresolved questions they had left behind.     From Mauritania to France and Tobago, they found forensic evidence and built trust with a network of sources. By the end of their exhaustive journey, they knew who these men were and what led them to their deaths. They even confirmed one man’s identity with a DNA test. 

Immersive storytelling’s Nat Castañeda worked with Brito and Dana to shape the project, including a 13-minute minidocumentary. Immersive developer Linda Gorman worked up a complex interactive, and an Audience Engagement team led by Sophia Eppolito spent weeks developing a social plan.   

For compiling the compelling and tragic story of a group of doomed migrants who would otherwise have been forgotten, Brito, Dana, Gorman, Castañeda and Eppolito earn this week’s Best of the Week — First Winner. 

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April 07, 2023

Best of the Week — First Winner

3 days, 2 nights, 1 train: Kyiv team crosses Ukraine with Zelenskyy in unprecedented embed

Months of building trust with the Ukrainian government led to unmatched access to President Volodymyr Zelenskyy during his travels across Ukraine. It resulted in a powerful all-formats series of stories that made headlines across the world and gave an in-depth portrait of a wartime leader in perpetual motion. 

For months, The AP team has been working on improving our links with the Kyiv government. Persistence paid off. AP was offered an exclusive interview with the president, to be carried out by Executive Editor Julie Pace. She traveled into the country, accompanied by Europe and Africa News Director James Jordan and teamed up with Arhirova and Lukatsky and on-deployment Prague video journalist Adam Pemble for two nights and three days on the president’s train.  

For their herculean efforts to organize and deliver the meeting, engineering an opportunity for AP to conduct the most extensive embed with the Ukrainian president to date, Arhirova, Lukatsky and Pemble share Best of the Week — First Winner honors.

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March 24, 2023

Best of the Week — First Winner

AP looks ahead at new generation’s hopes 20 years after U.S. invasion of Iraq, not just behind at destruction

AP boasts about its global reach. An all-formats package reported from Iraq demonstrates how the deep expertise of its journalists also reaches back through history. 

We have an amazing team that covers Iraq day in and day out. But we also have a hidden resource: people who were there when history happened and are with us today. When we see the opportunity, we can offer our readers and customers that context. That was the case with Jerome Delay and John Daniszewski, both of whom were there in 2003 at the beginning of it all. They went back to offer some context about what has changed.

Delay and Daniszewski were both among the few international journalists in Baghdad when the U.S. launched its “shock and awe” campaign. They joined with video journalist Lujain Jo, a native Iraqi, and video journalist Jerry Marmer, who was embedded with Marines who invaded by land 20 years ago, to deliver an authoritative and nuanced portrait of a country that’s been out of the spotlight since the defeat of the Islamic State group five years ago.  

Instead of focusing solely on the war-torn image that many Iraqis say is outdated, the AP team’s package also focused on what’s ahead for Iraq. Beyond exclusive interviews with the Iraqi president and prime minister, they also conducted dozens of interviews with Iraqi youth. These gave a deeper and sometimes counterintuitive look at a generation interrupted by war and terrorism, whose voices are rarely heard outside their home country. Half of Iraq’s population of 40 million is too young to remember Saddam Hussein.   

For their sensitive and forward-looking view of an invasion that hit Iraq 20 years in the past, bolstered by their own lived experiences of it, Delay, Daniszewski, Jo and Harmer are this week’s Best of the Week — First Winner.  

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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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Jan. 27, 2023

Best of the Week — First Winner

AP's Boone spearheads 20-outlet legal challenge to Idaho college stabbings gag order

The fatal stabbings of four college students at the University of Idaho campus in Moscow, Idaho, in November 2022 were initially shrouded in mystery and misinformation. As Boise, Idaho, Supervisory Correspondent Rebecca Boone worked to untangle all of this, a judge put up yet another barrier to getting the story to the public: a sweeping gag order prohibiting law enforcement agencies, attorneys or anyone else associated with the case from discussing it publicly.   

In the middle of one of the biggest stories in the nation, Boone suddenly had a new task on her plate: singlehandedly spearheading a legal challenge to the gag order — ultimately recruiting a coalition of 22 print and TV media outlets, including The New York Times, to join the cause.  

The AP couldn't have had a better advocate for the task. Boone has a track record of fighting for press access and has made the issue a top priority in her lengthy AP career. 

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Jan. 20, 2023

Best of the Week — First Winner

Faceless portraits: Noroozi innovates to show struggle of Afghan women athletes

The best portraits capture a person’s essence, almost always by focusing on the human face. But AP photographer Ebrahim Noroozi, on assignment in Kabul temporarily from Iran, needed to do something different to show the effects of Afghanistan’s rule banning women playing sports.

Using the emblematic burqa to conceal the identities of the women athletes now forbidden from doing what they love best, Noroozi came up with the haunting series of faceless portraits to illustrate the erasure of Afghan women from public life under the Taliban.

Several female athletes who once played a variety of sports unrestricted posed for Noroozi with their athletic equipment – and their identities hidden by burqas, the all-encompassing robe and hood that completely covers the face, leaving only a swath of mesh to see through.

Noroozi’s images were published in an array of multimedia presentations by AP’s subscribers worldwide, including the Los Angeles Times and the Washington Post. The latter used them to illustrate a story about the near-simultaneous decision by Australia to cancel a men’s one-day international cricket series over the restrictions on women.

For innovation and sensitivity in showing a difficult subject, Noroozi earns Best of the Week – First Winner.

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