Oct. 21, 2022

Beat of the Week

(Honorable Mention)

AP: Conservative PACs target local school board races

analyzed how national conservative groups have targeted school board races that more typically have been sleepier, civil affairs. The reporting was built on research Carr Smyth began in 2021, looking at national conservative groups’ involvement in school board recruitment and candidate training seminars around the country.By reviewing campaign finance filings, education reporter Binkley and Columbus, Ohio-based reporter Carr Smyth revealed that one group — the 1776 Project PAC — has spent millions to support conservative candidates in multiple states.The story, capturing how national money and attention has changed the tenor of many of these local races, detailed how many Republicans are seizing on “parental rights” and accusing incumbents of “grooming” and “indoctrination” as a tactic to unseat Democrats.Read more

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Jan. 20, 2023

Beat of the Week

(Honorable Mention)

Heart-wrenching loss of young boy in California illustrates peril of California flooding

in Los Angeles humanized, in the most gripping fashion, the floods that hit California. His interviews with the parents of a 5-year-old boy who was swept away by floodwaters give a heart-wrenching look at the impacts of the flooding. With sensitive reporting, exclusive details and vivid storytelling, Melley offered a compelling and comprehensive account of the tragedy.Read more.

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Jan. 06, 2023

Best of the Week — First Winner

Police seize on COVID-19 tech to expand surveillance

An AP team of journalists around the globe disclosed that governments worldwide used the COVID-19 pandemic to build tools and collect data to help curtail the virus, but those tools and data are being repurposed for surveillance by police and intelligence services.

Fresh off a fellowship studying artificial intelligence at Stanford University, reporter Garance Burke returned to AP’s investigative team with an idea for a gripping global project: Could AP staff track how policing worldwide had changed since the pandemic began?

More than a year later, Burke and the cross-format, cross-border team she led produced a sweeping investigation revealing how law enforcement across the globe mobilized new mass surveillance tools during the pandemic for purposes entirely unrelated to COVID-19.

For using Burke’s newfound knowledge and keen interest in AI to bring forth a disturbing story on surveillance and policing with global ramifications, the team of Burke, Federman, Jain, Wu, McGuirk and Myers, supported by numerous other colleagues across the AP, share Best of the Week – First Winner.

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Dec. 23, 2022

Best of the Week — First Winner

Sources give AP tech team a beat on a critical Twitter story

Matt O'Brien and Barbara Ortutay anticipated that Elon Musk might disband Twitter's Trust and Safety Council, a group of external advisors who helped the platform with complicated content moderation -- and they broke the story as a result.

O'Brien, based in Providence, and New York-based Ortutay concluded after billionaire Elon Musk bought Twitter for $44 billion that the trust council’s future was in doubt.

They kept contact with members of the group, which included around 100 independent civil, human rights and other organizations, and noted the date when the council was next scheduled to meet.

When the council finally was disbanded via email, their multiple sources reached out with a copy, and AP was first with the story.

For foresight and source work that made the scoop possible, O’Brien and Ortutay are Best of the Week – 1st Winner.

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Dec. 16, 2022

Best of the Week — First Winner

AP spotlights remarkable rise of federal prison official accused of misconduct

Mike Balsamo in Washington and Mike Sisak in New York trained a lens on a single Bureau of Prisons official, Thomas Ray Hinkle, who received promotions across four decades despite repeated allegations of abuse, misconduct and even admissions by him that he’d beaten inmates in the past as part of a gang of guards called “The Cowboys.”

After being tipped earlier this year to Hinkle’s past, Sisak and Balsamo went about securing and scrutinizing 1,600 pages of documents that provided details of the allegations and developed key sources within the prisons system who corroborated the accusations. Finally, toward the end of the reporting process, they secured comment from Hinkle and the bureau, both of which acknowledged his previous excesses but said he was a changed man.

For a dogged and impactful investigation that caps a year in which their reporting has shaken the hierarchy of the federal prison systems and forced officials to confront abuses long out of public view, Balsamo and Sisak are Best of the Week 1st Winners.

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Dec. 09, 2022

Best of the Week — First Winner

Heartbreaking photos give rare personal look at fentanyl's toll on homeless people

When photographer Jae C. Hong returned to Los Angeles after a year in Japan, he was struck by how the number of homeless people had vastly multiplied. It was immediately before the pandemic -- and Hong, like so many reporters in the AP, spent much of the next year chronicling the impact of coronavirus.

Earlier this year, he was able to get back to the project he’d yearned to pursue and started chronicling homeless Angelenos between other assignments. One night, he encountered two police officers standing over a dead body -- and his project, spotlighting the lives, and sometimes the deaths, of fentanyl addicts, began to take shape.

Hong spent about six months documenting the humanitarian disaster. What he produced were gut-wrenching photos that gave a rare, intensely personal and brutally honest look into the tragedy unfolding on the streets of LA, an unconscionable scene often overlooked. AP writer Brian Melley, using Hong's reporting and experiences, crafted a story of equally vivid imagery that portrayed the raw human suffering with sensitivity to complete the package. The package was widely used and kept readers’ attention. The engagement score on AP News was a perfect 100 and Facebook featured it on its news feed.

For focusing on a problem that is too often unseen and producing a raw, compelling visual package, this week’s first Best of the Week is awarded to Los Angeles photojournalist Jae C. Hong.

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Nov. 04, 2022

Beat of the Week

(Honorable Mention)

AP/‘Frontline’ investigation: Russian brutality was strategic

of the AP teamed up with PBS “Frontline” on a joint investigation showing that the much-reported Russian violence against civilians in and around Bucha, Ukraine, was not carried out by rogue soldiers. Rather, it was strategic and organized brutality, perpetrated in areas under tight Russian control and where military officers — including a prominent general — were present.For a pair of stories, AP and “Frontline” interviewed dozens of witnesses and survivors, reviewed audio intercepts and surveillance camera footage, and obtained Russian battle plans.One of Kinetz’s stories tied the violence to Russian Col. Gen. Alexander Chaiko, who was in command. The other shows the wrenching impact of the Russian terror campaign on one woman who lost the man she called her “big, big love.”Read more

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Oct. 21, 2022

Beat of the Week

(Honorable Mention)

Ahead of Social Security increase, AP anticipates reader questions

teamed up two months ago on coverage of an expected Social Security cost-of-living increase. In the current economic climate, they anticipated — correctly — the story would have strong audience appeal and would require a range of user-friendly explanatory journalism that would also capture the circumstances and voices of people across the U.S.The result was a week of in-depth all-formats coverage on the jump in benefits. From an overview of how Social Security works to the potential impact on inflation and the midterm elections to on-camera interviews with recipients, the AP team explored and explained the benefits boost from all angles.Read more

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Sept. 09, 2022

Beat of the Week

(Honorable Mention)

AP Exclusive: US ‘red flag’ laws little-used despite gun violence surge

used exhaustive data gathering and analysis, as well as interviews with experts and authorities across the country, to produce an exclusive, first-ever count that shows U.S. states barely using the much-touted “red flag” laws that give them the power to take guns away from people who threaten to kill. The trend is traced to lack of awareness of the laws and outright resistance by some police to enforce them, even as shootings and gun deaths soar.Condon’s deeply reported story adds data and clarity to the debate over red flag laws, which are promoted as the most powerful tools available to prevent gun violence before it happens. But as the piece shows, such laws are only useful if they are actually enforced.Read more

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Oct. 21, 2022

Best of the Week — First Winner

AP Investigation: Moscow taking Ukrainian kids to raise them as Russians

Russia has been open about its desire to turn Ukrainian orphans into Russian citizens with Russian families — a flashpoint of the war. But whether or not they have parents, raising the children of war in another country or culture can be a marker of genocide, an attempt to erase culture and identity.

This investigative piece, reported from Ukraine, Russia and France, made AP the first news organization to show the disturbing process from beginning to end — and prove that many of the children are not orphans at all. The all-formats story led with the account of a Ukrainian mother who, against the odds, successfully retrieved six children who had been trapped in Mariupol and seized by pro-Russia forces.

The story won wide play online, was a hit on Twitter and was singled out during a State Department briefing.

For documenting a severe breach of human rights with a heart-wrenching story that resonated across audiences, Sarah El Deeb, Tanya Titova, Anastasiia Shvets, Elizaveta Tilna and Kirill Zarubin earn AP’s Best of the Week — First Winner honors.

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Oct. 21, 2022

Beat of the Week

(Honorable Mention)

Standout coverage as Russia expands attacks on Ukraine

delivered competitive all-formats coverage of Russian attacks on at least 10 Ukrainian cities, two days after an explosion on the Kerch Bridge between Crimea and Russia disrupted an important Russian supply line.From Kyiv, Zaporizhzhia and Dnipro, AP responded with strong reporting and striking visuals supplemented by user-generated content. AP‘s photos and videos led major news websites.Read more

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Oct. 14, 2022

Beat of the Week

(Honorable Mention)

AP reports real-world impact of gerrymandering; SCOTUS hears case

teamed up on a timely package examining racial gerrymandering and how it disenfranchises thousands of Black voters in Alabama.With the U.S. Supreme Court hearing arguments in a case challenging the state’s Republican-drawn maps, and redistricting likely to factor into the 2022 midterm elections, AP journalists used on-the ground reporting, data analysis and experience at the high court to shine a light on the consequences of Alabama’s highly gerrymandered districts.The result was a timely all-formats package on how the cynical practice has largely robbed Black residents in Alabama of their political voice.Read more

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Oct. 07, 2022

Best of the Week — First Winner

AP’s on-the-ground investigation in Ukraine uncovers Russia’s torture sites — and survivors

A trio of AP journalists had no idea exactly what they would find when they were directed to a monastery in recently liberated Izium, Ukraine.

There, correspondent Lori Hinnant, photographer Evgeniy Maloletka and video journalist Vasilisa Stepanenko found a former Ukrainian soldier in hiding, tortured three times by occupying Russian forces. His disturbing tale would supply the narrative for an exclusive investigation that uncovered 10 torture sites. The journalists gained access to five of them and spoke to more than a dozen torture survivors, and to two families whose loved ones had disappeared

The all-formats package, revealing arbitrary, widespread, routine torture of civilians and soldiers alike in Izium, immediately resonated, earning wide play and high readership.

For a gritty, deeply reported all-formats investigation that made an impact, exposing evidence of Russian war crimes and the human consequences, Hinnant, Stepanenko and Maloletka earn AP’s Best of the Week — First Winner honors.

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Oct. 07, 2022

Beat of the Week

(Honorable Mention)

AP expands on annual report of environmental activists killed

teamed up on strong reporting from the field to elevate coverage of a global report on environmental activists killed around the world. When the non-governmental organization Global Witness reached out to AP and other organizations about its annual report — 200 environmental activists killed globally in 2021 — AP decided to go beyond the announcement itself to find a story illustrating the findings.The AP Mexico City-based team ended up telling the tragic story of Yaqui Indigenous water-rights leader Tomás Rojo, one of the 54 activists killed in 2021 in Mexico, the deadliest place in the world for environmental and land-rights defenders.While most other news outlets were content to publish just the findings of the Global Witness report, the AP team’s on-the-ground reporting produced a vivid all-formats package that added a human dimension to the sobering numbers.Read more

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Oct. 07, 2022

Beat of the Week

(Honorable Mention)

AP investigation finds dysfunction in Texas AG’s office

uncovered evidence of deep dysfunction inside Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton’s office, including criminal cases dropped and seasoned lawyers quitting over practices they say aim to slant legal work, reward loyalists and drum out dissent.The investigation by Dallas-based Bleiberg, based on hundreds of pages of public and confidential records, data analysis and interviews with more than two dozen current and former employees, found numerous examples of an agency in disarray, including efforts to turn cases to political advantage, staff vacancies ballooning and, last month, a series of human trafficking and child sexual assault cases dropped after losing track of one of the victims.Read more

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Sept. 30, 2022

Beat of the Week

(Honorable Mention)

Strong reporting on alleged torture, ‘Fat Leonard’ case in Venezuela

delivered smart stories about Venezuela, including an interview with the leader of independent experts working with the United Nations’ top human rights body that gave insight into cases of torture allegedly ordered by President Nicolas Maduro of government opponents and critics. Another story ran down details of the arrest of a fugitive defense contractor nicknamed “Fat Leonard” who orchestrated one of the U.S. Navy’s largest bribery scandals.Andes correspondent Regina Garcia Cano was able to find out that Leonard Francis was arrested at the international airport that serves Caracas before he boarded a plane to the Island of Margarita, a Venezuelan Caribbean Island that the government is trying to turn into a hotspot for Russian tourists. A source told AP that Leonard’s intention was to flee to Russia.Read more

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Sept. 23, 2022

Beat of the Week

(Honorable Mention)

Series by AP and partners reveals Colorado River near crisis

collaborated on in-depth coverage from all corners of the Colorado River basin, building a comprehensive, visually engaging and illuminating series on the state of one of America’s most important rivers, which is approaching a crisis point because of climate change and overuse.All-formats AP journalists teamed up with the Colorado Sun, Albuquerque Journal, Salt Lake Tribune, Arizona Daily Star, Nevada Independent and Santa Fe New Mexican, all contributing stories from their respective states.The series included 11 text stories, with photos and animations for each, exploring the river from the perspectives of all seven Basin states, Native American tribes and Mexico. The package featured two revealing video pieces, an overview of how the river got to this point and the challenges tribes face to exercise their water rights. One week after the series launch, the stories had been picked up by more than 1,100 outlets.Read more

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Sept. 23, 2022

Best of the Week — First Winner

Informant raped during unmonitored drug sting; AP finds little regulation of common police tactic

Investigative reporter Jim Mustian told the exclusive story of a female informant raped twice in an undercover drug sting after her law enforcement handlers left her alone and unmonitored — a case that revealed the perils such informants can face while seeking to “work off” criminal charges in often secretive arrangements.

Mustian spent weeks interviewing sources and obtaining confidential documents after receiving a tip about the incident which took place in central Louisiana early last year. His reporting showed authorities’ apparent disregard for the safety of the informant, while experts told him that such drug stings are conducted countless times a day across the country, but they are notoriously unregulated.

Mustian’s story was among the most-read stories of the week on AP News and earned prominent play by AP members and customers.

For deep reporting that exposed a horrific case and took a hard look at a common police practice, Mustian earns AP’s Best of the Week — First Winner honors.

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