Nov. 12, 2021

Best of the Week — First Winner

Under the volcano: Stunning photos of ‘slow motion annihilation’ on the island of La Palma

The volcano on La Palma has been active for months — and so have any number of news agencies, documenting with day-to-day images, most often from a distance after authorities declared much of the Spanish island off-limits.

That was the challenge for Madrid-based chief photographer Emilio Morenatti, who wanted a fresh angle. Leaning on contacts, Morenatti gained access inside the exclusion zone. There, while providing daily images for the AP wire, he poured his creative energy into a series of still life photos that cross over into the art world, showing what he describes as “annihilation in slow motion.”

His images show neighborhoods, yards, houses and all the possessions therein buried in volcanic ash. One colleague called the work “shocking and beautiful at the same time.”

The package that was well-received by international clients and Morenatti was interviewed by Spanish television. Even competitor photographers took to social media to praise his work.

For combining determination, access, timing and talent to produce remarkable images that take viewers to the heart of an unfolding catastrophe, Morenatti is this week’s Best of the Week — First Winner.

AP 21308241229943 2000 1

Feb. 25, 2022

Best of the Week — First Winner

Source work, reporting, exclusive data modeling put AP ahead on omicron immunity

For two years, as COVID-19 ravaged the world, AP health and science reporter Carla Johnson stayed in constant contact with disease modelers who were using careful analysis to predict what the coronavirus would do next.

This time her subject was the omicron wave — millions were infected and millions more had immunity through vaccination and/or past infection. Johnson knew those numbers might answer one of the most vexing questions of the pandemic: How much immunity had Americans developed from omicron?

Johnson leaned on her sources and asked one influential analyst to produce projections for the AP. The result was a key finding that gave the country the earliest and clearest sense yet of how the U.S. is navigating the pandemic: 73% of the country is believed to be protected from omicron.

Her deeply reported but straightforward story, explaining why future waves may be far less disruptive in the U.S., played widely with credit to AP’s exclusive reporting.

For recognizing that the data might hold answers on COVID immunity, and resourceful source work that delivered a unique projection of future infection, Johnson is AP’s Best of the Week — First Winner.

AP 22047700203823 2000b

Feb. 25, 2022

Beat of the Week

(Honorable Mention)

AP: Sharp rise in reports of sexual assault at US military academies

broke news ahead of a Pentagon announcement: Sexual assaults reported at U.S. military academies have risen sharply.Longtime Defense Department reporter Baldor used a tip, source work and rigorous reporting to determine the closely guarded numbers for all the elite academies. And when the DOD asked her to hold the story, suggesting her information might be wrong, she stood firm. Baldor’s AP story moved more than an hour before the official announcement, her numbers confirmed by the Pentagon. Read more

AP 22047819470008 hm military

Feb. 11, 2022

Best of the Week — First Winner

Accountability reporting uncovers taxpayer-funded anti-abortion centers, racial disparities in access

With the continued weakening of state laws protecting women’s rights to abortion in the U.S., the AP’s strong coverage of abortion continues with two stories earning Best of the Week for impressive state accountability reporting and analysis.

A story that surfaced in Tennessee, finding federal dollars being spent on nonprofits aligned with the anti-abortion movement, revealed that legislatures in about a dozen U.S. states were funneling millions of taxpayer dollars to so-called crisis pregnancy centers that are typically unlicensed and have been accused of engaging in misinformation campaigns targeting pregnant women.

A second story focused on racial inequities in access to abortion, an idea sparked by an observation during a visit to the Shreveport, La., abortion clinic where almost every woman in the waiting room was Black. The all-formats package showed how minority women in states where abortion is under attack have the most to lose if Roe v. Wade is overturned.

Both stories drew strong play on AP News and customer platforms.

For revelatory state stories on two elements in the pitched national debate over abortion rights, Kruesi, Willingham, Wagster Pettus, Nasir, Solis and Lo earn AP’s Best of the Week — First Winner honors.

Abortion issues 2000

Feb. 11, 2022

Beat of the Week

(Honorable Mention)

AP out front on US raid where leader of Islamic State group died

combined outstanding reporting in all formats and stellar coordination between the Washington and Beirut bureaus to put AP ahead with quick, thorough, vivid on-the-ground coverage of the U.S. raid in Syria’s Idlib province that left the Islamic State group’s leader dead.Source work by AP’s Pentagon staff gave the teams in Washington and the Mideast some advance notice of the operation, and after the raid, AP was quick to the Idlib site, filing photos, video, drone footage and eyewitness accounts. AP was ahead of the competition with its alert and a solid writethrus, as well as reporting of the death toll.Beirut added a substantive biographical piece on the dead IS leader who tried to rebuild IS from its defeat, and Washington put together a compelling timeline of the raid, from planning through aftermath.Read more

AP 22034391665198 hm syria 1

Jan. 21, 2022

Best of the Week — First Winner

Sensitive reporting, compelling storytelling on spike in Zimbabwe teen pregnancy amid pandemic

Writing about teen pregnancy is difficult under any circumstances, requiring equal parts thoughtfulness and responsibility. That is how AP’s team in Zimbabwe, photographer Tsvangirayi Mukwazhi and writer Farai Mutsaka, joined by South Africa video journalist Sebabatso Mosamo, approached the story of how pandemic lockdowns led to a sharp rise in teen pregnancies and the consequent loss of girls’ educational opportunities, a problem affecting many southern African countries.

Gathering facts to support the story took months, as Mutsaka worked with officials to access the available data. Then the team faced the challenge of finding families willing to speak on the record. Most wouldn't talk publicly, but Mukwazhi and Mutsaka found a 13-year-old who wanted her story told. The pair repeatedly explained the possible consequences to her family and others they met with, ensuring the story’s subjects fully understood what it meant to have their names and photos published.

The months of care and persistence paid off with compelling text and images, including a sensitive video by Mosamo. For responsible coverage providing insight into a difficult, important and often painful subject, the team of Mutsaka, Mukwazhi and Mosamo is AP’s Best of the Week — First Winner.

AP 22011372700873 2000b

Nov. 26, 2021

Beat of the Week

(Honorable Mention)

Exclusive interview with ‘Sesame Street’s’ first Asian American muppet

scored a timely and exclusive interview with the first Asian American muppet on “Sesame Street.”Phoenix-based Tang had been watching for race-related news tied to the classic children’s television show, when Sesame Workshop, the nonprofit behind the show, reached out about giving AP the exclusive on their first ever Asian American muppet — a 7-year-old Korean American named Ji-Young.Tang knew the story would resonate after a wave of attacks against Asian Americans and calls for greater Asian American and Pacific Islander representation, and she looked forward to writing “Ji-Young told The Associated Press.” She teamed up with New York-based video journalist Noreen Nasir, who also saw the cultural importance of the story as well as the potential to have fun telling it.Nasir interviewed both Ji-Young and longtime “Sesame Street” favorite Ernie, being careful not to show the puppeteers, and snapped photos of the muppets. Then she and Tang interviewed Kathleen Kim, the Korean American puppeteer behind Ji-Young, about the impact of portraying a groundbreaking character.Tang arranged for AP to release the text story and photos exclusively at an hour when both audiences in the U.S. and Asia could wake up to the story, followed shortly by the video, generating strong interest from customers and readers.https://aplink.news/fi2https://aplink.video/blr

AP 21316717560536 hm sesame

Nov. 26, 2021

Beat of the Week

(Honorable Mention)

Masterful reporting reveals the victims of Ethiopia’s Tigray war

used a distinctive, nuanced approach to explore one of the biggest unknowns in Ethiopia’s yearlong Tigray conflict: the death toll.The story, funded by a grant from the Pulitzer Center on Crisis Reporting, went beyond the numbers, humanizing the horrific toll of the war through a Tigrayan man, Desta Haileselassie, who collects the names of the dead — a groom, a lawyer, an ambulance driver — more than 3,000 Ethnic Tigrayans confirmed so far. He reluctantly revealed to Anna that 19 members of his own family had died. Video journalist Keyton and stroytelling producer Castañeda conducted a delicate interview with Desta in Stockholm, while Anna, AP’s East Africa correspondent, attended online. The listkeeper was deeply affected by his experience but the journalists earned his trust, gently eliciting information from him while careful not to re-traumatize him.The resulting package is powerful and engaging — and balanced, noting atrocities and victims on both sides of the conflict. It introduces victims by name and goes on to tell their stories. At its most personal it focuses on Desta’s mother, whom he hasn’t been able to reach since June. Instead he listens to recordings he made of her voice.The photos and presentation by Castañeda are no less compelling as AP continues to lead coverage of the Tigray conflict despite severe restrictions on access. Readers, competitors and experts complimented this latest work, with one describing it as a “masterpiece of precision, thoughtfulness and humanity.”https://aplink.news/iduhttps://aplink.news/c90https://aplink.video/p3whttps://aplink.photos/fbs

AP 21314743897390 hm tigray 1

Nov. 26, 2021

Beat of the Week

(Honorable Mention)

Source-building delivers interview with wife of detained ex-Interpol president

set a new standard for The AP Interview, thanks to a 3-year source-building effort that persuaded Grace Meng, wife of the ex-Interpol boss jailed in China, to go on camera and go public with her story for the first time.When Meng revealed in 2018 that her husband, Meng Hongwei, was missing in China, Leicester was the only Chinese speaker among reporters in the room. Leicester saw a unique and untold story: that of a former insider among China’s secretive governing elite whose powerful husband had fallen afoul of the Communist Party, with its long and brutal history of political purges. “The monster” is how Meng now speaks of the government her husband worked for. “Because they eat their children.”Tiptoeing around the interview room in Lyon, France, Cipriani captured the range of emotions expressed by Meng, while Turnbull, collaborating with Cerrone, raised the bar for the interview series with his masterclass camerawork. Luke Sheridan in New York turned around the edited, branded video so quickly that the package was available in all formats almost immediately.The video was by far the most impactful segment of The AP Interview on AP’s YouTube channel to date, and the story was No.1 for the week in reader engagement.https://aplink.news/7zshttps://aplink.video/40rhttps://aplink.news/v6z

AP 21321492711936 hm meng 1

Aug. 06, 2021

Beat of the Week

(Honorable Mention)

AP delivers standout all-formats coverage of Simone Biles narrative

gave AP exclusive glimpses into the saga that led gymnast Simone Biles to drop out of most of her events.During the first week of the Olympics, sports writer Graves and national writer Clare Galofaro used source work — contacts in Biles' camp, USA Gymnastics and others — to keep AP ahead of nearly every development through eight APNewsAlerts, including Biles’ shocking decision to leave the team gymnastics competition after one vault. AP had exclusive video of Biles at her hotel for several days as the world waited to find out if she would compete again, and had live shots of her moving around Tokyo and even going shopping at a pet store. AP also delivered world-class photography of her in action and on the sidelines cheering for her teammates.Graves, AP’s authority on gymnastics, has built a relationship with Biles that precedes the Rio Games and includes U.S. championships, world championships and one-on-one interviews, giving context to the fast-breaking stories coming out of Tokyo. In May, Biles had opened up in a multiformat interview about the pressures that would eventually move her to pull out of most Tokyo Games competition. Graves also produced a comprehensive explainer on “The Twisties,” the disorientation Biles felt as she was airborne, a story Biles herself liked on Twitter.https://aplink.news/1j6https://aplink.news/ghdhttps://aplink.video/br6

AP 21215272021930 hm simone biles

Oct. 29, 2021

Beat of the Week

(Honorable Mention)

As COVID surges in Russia, AP wins access to Moscow ICU

used months of strong contact-building in Moscow’s hospitals to get first access to an intensive care unit — several days ahead of the competition — at a time when Russia is facing almost daily records for both COVID infections and deaths.Video journalist Manenkov and chief photographer Zemlianichenko won permission to work inside the “Red Zone” at Moscow City Clinical Hospital 52, where the staff is facing the crush of the country’s COVID-19 crisis. The pair gave Moscow writer Isachenkov perfect material to explore the lagging pace of vaccination across the country, a source of despair among the front-line doctors and nurses. And their visuals gave AP global customers an array of powerful images telling the story of COVID in Russia.https://aplink.news/rm0https://aplink.video/f63

AP 21292524072367 hm sasha 1

Oct. 22, 2021

Best of the Week — First Winner

In the wake of Texas’ abortion ban, AP gives voice to women now going to out-of-state clinics

In America’s pitched debate over abortion, the voices of the people most affected by the slew of new laws restricting access to abortion are seldom heard.

Allowing patients to tell their stories of seeking to end their pregnancies has been a priority in AP’s coverage of Texas’ new law banning most abortions. Oklahoma City-based reporter Sean Murphy and Miami-based photographer Rebecca Blackwell delivered impressively on that goal with a sensitively written, visually compelling all-formats package.

The pair carefully negotiated access to a clinic in Shreveport, Louisiana, and earned the trust of Texas patients whose voices were vividly brought to life in text, photo, video and audio. They also met with anti-abortion protesters outside the clinic.

For gaining access and handling a delicate and polarizing story with professionalism, grace and accuracy while providing AP’s worldwide audience a greater understanding of the real-life impacts of the Texas law, Murphy and Blackwell are AP’s Best of the Week — First Winners.

AP 21285625995671 2000

Oct. 22, 2021

Beat of the Week

(Honorable Mention)

‘Wrenching’ exclusive: Grim consequences of Tigray siege

drew from a dozen exclusive interviews, plus photos and video from sources in Mekele, the capital of Ethiopia’s Tigray region, to paint the most personal and detailed portrait yet of life under a deadly government blockade.The increasing death and deprivation in the Tigray region have been largely hidden from the world. But Anna and Curtis in Nairobi, and two stringers based in Ethiopia — unnamed for their security — obtained interviews with Mekele residents, internal aid documents and rare images showing children suffering from malnutrition and lack of medications.Using fragile periods of limited internet connectivity to the region otherwise cut off from communications, they spoke with suffering parents, university lecturers, a Catholic priest and others for details that made the story widely used and shared: A woman who killed herself because she was no longer able to feed her children, desperate people going directly from an aid distribution site to the roadside to sell humanitarian items, the flour and oil for Communion bread soon to run out. “Gut-wrenching ... It was as if you had managed to make it to Tigray,” one reader commented.Last month, the AP was first to report on deaths from starvation under the blockade, but this story showed the wider ravages of the lack of medication, fuel and cash. The director general of the World Health Organization tweeted the story to his 1.5 million followers, just one of several high-profile shares. https://aplink.news/d3l

AP 21288549589740 hm tigray 1

Oct. 15, 2021

Beat of the Week

(Honorable Mention)

AP first with report of abuse, cover-up by French clergy

broke news with an early scoop on the staggering scale — hundreds of thousands of victims — in a long-awaited report on sexual abuse in the French Catholic Church. That was just the start of a week of powerful and delicate AP coverage of France’s first nationwide reckoning with systemic church abuse, cover-ups and decades of trauma.On the eve of the report’s release, Paris-based senior field producer Masha Macpherson and video journalist Alex Turnbull tracked down an abuse victim who had inside information about the findings — notably, an estimated 216,000 children had been abused by clergy over the past 70 years. Their on-camera interview saw massive use.The following day, reporter Sylvie Corbet, senior producer Jeff Schaeffer, Macpherson and other Paris staffers, working closely with AP Vatican authority Nicole Winfield, produced fast-moving, comprehensive coverage on the release of the 2,500-page report. AP had live video, six video edits and two stories, including emotional reaction from victims and bishops; victims’ groups shared AP's stories online. And Schaeffer found a searing, intimate way to tell the victims’ side of the story in all formats: through the eyes of actor Laurent Martinez, who was abused by a priest and is working out the trauma onstage.https://aplink.news/30jhttps://aplink.video/tpthttps://aplink.news/sirhttps://aplink.video/v1t

AP 21278655203433 hm church abuse

Oct. 01, 2021

Beat of the Week

(Honorable Mention)

AP Exclusive: First reports of starvation deaths in Tigray

continued AP’s standout coverage of conflict in Ethiopia’s embattled Tigray region, revealing evidence of the first starvation deaths since the Ethiopian government imposed a blockade in June.Getting any information at all out of Tigray right now is a coup — the government has blocked Internet access and humanitarian groups are terrified to talk to the press for fear of being thrown out of the region. Despite these conditions, Nairobi-based East Africa correspondent Anna managed to paint a picture of the desperate food shortage in Tigray.Anna obtained internal documents showing that an aid group reported starvation deaths in every single district it covered, the most extensive account yet of the blockade’s impact. She also obtained a list of items aid workers are no longer allowed to bring into Tigray — multivitamins, can openers, even personal medicines.

The story clearly exposed the government’s assertion of no hunger in Tigray as a lie, the latest example of AP holding the government accountable for what is turning into a humanitarian catastrophe.Any story on famine relies strongly on visuals. With no access to the region, Nairobi-based chief photographer Ben Curtis dedicated himself to securing the necessary permissions and added information to use exclusive handout photos from sources in Tigray, including a former hospital director. The photos are horrifying, showing children on the brink of starvation, including one child who died.AP’s story drew widespread attention and praise. Anna was interviewed by the BBC World Service and NPR, and the piece was tweeted, including by Samantha Power, administrator of the United States Agency for International Development, and by the House Foreign Affairs Committee. Other news organizations have followed AP’s lead on the story. https://aplink.news/3hq

AP 21262367207631 hm tigray 1

Sept. 17, 2021

Beat of the Week

(Honorable Mention)

All-formats exclusive reveals deadly spread of Ethiopia’s Tigray conflict

were the first to report on one of the deadliest battles of Ethiopia's 10-month conflict in Tigray. Kiyaro's reporting and images showed for the first time fresh graves and traumatized residents on the shifting front lines.After being contacted by the Nairobi bureau, all-formats freelancer Kiyaro, based in Addis Ababa, reached out to regional authorities and other sources and, in coordination with AP Global Security, was able to establish that the scene of the fighting was accessible. He went north from Addis, renting a car to take him closer to the scene, then walking in the rain with Ethiopian forces for several hours to reach the village of Chenna Teklehaymanot. Fleeing villagers told him how they had already buried scores of their dead, including women, children and priests trapped during the fighting with advancing Tigrayan forces.Kiyaro’s careful planning had him back in Addis the same night, where he worked swiftly to file video and photos, and worked with East Africa correspondent Anna to produce a text story describing what he had seen. The quick handling delivered video and photos used widely around the world. A Human Rights Watch researcher said: “The complexities of how the conflict is unfolding in Amhara region hadn't been really captured until your piece.” Even competitive agencies complimented the remarkable work.https://aplink.news/sfnhttps://aplink.video/h7w

AP 21253434941161 hm chenna 1

Sept. 10, 2021

Beat of the Week

(Honorable Mention)

Rescue groups tell AP: US missed hundreds still in Afghanistan

delivered the most detailed look yet into the true toll of the Americans still in Afghanistan after the U.S. pullout, fact-checking the Biden administration’s estimate that no more than 200 American citizens were left behind. Rather than take the administration’s estimate at face value, the pair reported on the independent experiences of veteran-led rescue groups and members of Congress who say the figure is too low and also overlooks hundreds of others they consider to be equally American: permanent legal residents with green cards.The leader of one volunteer group told AP that the official count of U.S. citizens is off by hundreds, and California Rep. Darrell Issa, said the calls his office is receiving lead him to estimate the true toll of U.S. citizens left in Afghanistan is about 500.As for green card holders — who have lived in the U.S. for years, paid taxes, owned property and often have children who are U.S. citizens — the true number who want to get out is in the hundreds and perhaps more than 1,000, according to rescue groups and lawmakers. San Diego reporter Watson and New York investigative reporter Condon highlighted the plight of one family of green card holders who lived in Sacramento for years and who have been texting daily with their children’s elementary school principal while trying to escape Afghanistan. “I’m loosing the hope,” texted the mother.AP’s story, with contributions from Kathy Gannon in Kabul and Matt Lee in Washington, was among the most-read on the AP News app on the Labor Day holiday weekend and was featured prominently on major news sites. https://aplink.news/3yy

AP 21244717097148 hm afghan

Aug. 20, 2021

Beat of the Week

(Honorable Mention)

COVID surge overwhelms a Louisiana hospital; AP is there

produced a timely, moving, all-formats story from a Louisiana COVID-19 ward with a lightning turnaround, getting her video, text and photos to the wire the day after she spent hours at the hospital.Plaisance, New Orleans-based video journalist, was given access to a hospital intensive care unit in Jefferson, Louisiana, expecting to get a few comments and some b-roll. Instead, she ended up spending the most of the day there, interviewing exhausted staff and recovering COVID victims. She spoke to a doctor who was emptying garbage bins and bathing patients to relieve the pressure on nurses. She spoke to a nurse who lost his own father to COVID, and a patient — also a nurse — who didn't get vaccinated and wants to make sure others don’t follow her lead.After leaving the hospital, Plaisance immediately went to work cutting video and writing the text story. By the following afternoon her work was on the wire capturing the desperation and urgency at the hospital.The package drew attention amid the current spike in COVID cases. Other news outlets noticed: After Plaisance’s piece appeared, the hospital became the subject of other reporters’ coverage.https://aplink.news/e0uhttps://aplink.video/p2n

AP 21223689801726 hm hospital

Aug. 13, 2021

Best of the Week — First Winner

AP story resonates globally: New Hampshire hermit loses home, finds himself back on the grid

The vividly told AP story of an 81-year-old man’s quest to remain in an isolated New Hampshire cabin hooked readers around the world, led to an outpouring of support and eventually prompted the man to reconsider his hermit lifestyle.

Reporter Kathy McCormack had begun by looking into a legal fight involving David Lidstone, a spritely man known locally as “River Dave.” He’d been living peacefully in a makeshift home for 27 years when the property owner moved to evict him. Lidstone refused to leave and was jailed in July; while he was in jail, his cabin burned to the ground.

McCormack’s reporting turned Lidstone’s difficulties into a powerful story, fleshing out the details of his life and the local efforts to help him stay put. The piece was an immediate hit, ultimately capturing more than a half million pageviews on AP News, making it the site’s most popular story of the week. McCormack and colleagues followed up with subsequent developments, including the groundswell of international attention Lidstone received and his move away from the reclusive life.

For bringing this engaging story to life and her persistence in following it through, McCormack wins AP’s Best of the Week award.

AP 21215601118521 2000b