Sept. 10, 2021

Beat of the Week

(Honorable Mention)

Distinctive reporting gives voice to fastest-growing US county

upended stereotypes with a deeply textured, intimate examination of a North Dakota community transformed by sudden growth.As part of the AP's ongoing coverage of the 2020 Census, Montana-based Brown went to McKenzie County, North Dakota — the center of the western oil boom and the fastest-growing county in the U.S. — to examine the impact of dramatic growth on a sleepy community on the western prairie. He charted the growth through the eyes of the people, from the old-timers who remembered riding horses through fields now lined with housing developments and oil wells, to newcomers finding their way into the fabric of the community.The story that emerged in Brown’s evocative words and photos came as something of a counternarrative to preconceived notions about how divided Americans are from one another. As revealed in graphics by Francois Duckett, a significant portion of McKenzie County’s newcomers are Hispanic, but many of those Brown interviewed described being embraced by the locals: the new restaurant owner helped along by customers who responded during the pandemic, or a transplanted family touched by the small-town charm of friendly faces saying hello in the grocery store.Brown’s nuanced reporting and writing gave his story a compelling narrative arc and showed the value of going to see firsthand what happens when a community is confronted with dramatic growth. https://aplink.news/bea

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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.

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Oct. 08, 2021

Beat of the Week

(Honorable Mention)

AP lands interviews with Anita Hill, 2 top #MeToo figures

has built a strong source relationship with the very private Anita Hill over the course of 15 years, interviewing her many times. The national writer has also developed ties with other high-profile figures in the #MeToo movement, earning a reputation of trust and respect.That source building resulted in a series of three recent interviews with women of color, all advocates for victims of sexual harassment and abuse:— #MeToo founder Tarana Burke— the first interview in any format with Monifa Bandele the new head of the embattled organization Time’s Up— Hill, who gave Noveck one of just two on-camera interviews to mark the release of her new book on sexual violence, which comes 30 years after her testimony in Congress against Clarence Thomas.All three appeared on camera, speaking of their experiences facing sexual misconduct and how American society must deal simultaneously with its race and gender struggles, because one cannot be solved without the other.https://aplink.news/okmhttps://aplink.video/wn9https://aplink.news/x3chttps://aplink.news/vqq

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Oct. 08, 2021

Best of the Week — First Winner

Accounting and Accountability: AP follows the money, finds most ‘rescue’ funds unspent

Earlier this year, states and cities across the country pleaded for a pandemic “rescue” plan to avoid a fiscal cliff, and they got it: $350 billion from Washington for local and state governments. Five months later, AP State Government Team reporter David Lieb dug into the data, state by state, city by city. He found that states overall had spent just 2.5% of their initial allotment while large cities spent 8.5% — not such an emergency after all.

It was a dramatic finding from an ongoing series of accountability stories led by AP’s state government and data teams tracking hundreds of billions of dollars in pandemic aid.

As Lieb gathered and analyzed the reports, data journalist Camille Fassett prepared the information for wider distribution to customers who used it for their own localized reporting.

Play for the story was outstanding. It landed on the front pages of dozens of AP’s biggest customers, online and print, and drew readership on AP News. For distinctive accountability journalism that delivered on both the national and local level, Lieb and Fassett earn AP’s Best of Week — First Winner.

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Sept. 24, 2021

Beat of the Week

(Honorable Mention)

AP reports on furtive lives of US residents still in Afghanistan

kept following a story much of the media has moved on from: what day-to-day life is like for American resident green-card holders who were left behind after the U.S. military’s chaotic exit from Afghanistan.The pair’s story, based on text messages, emails and phone conversations from those still in Afghanistan to loved ones and rescue groups, and directly with the AP, described a fearful, furtive existence of hiding in houses for weeks, keeping the lights off at night, moving from place to place, and donning baggy clothing and burqas to avoid detection by the Taliban if they absolutely must venture out.All say they were scared the Taliban would find them, throw them in jail, perhaps even kill them because they are Americans or had worked for the U.S. government. And they are concerned that the Biden administration’s promised efforts to get them out have stalled.Investigative reporter Condon and San Diego-based journalist Watson had to walk a fine line, telling individuals’ stories without identifying details that would open them to potential retaliation. The ambitious story, accompanied by photos provided by one family of green card holders from California, was part of an important body of AP work over the past week that remained focused on Afghanistan in the aftermath of the U.S. withdrawal. https://aplink.news/yt9

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Sept. 24, 2021

Beat of the Week

(Honorable Mention)

AP: In drought-stricken West, farmers ponder water-sharing plan

teamed up on an all-formats package that used two Oregon carrot seed farmers, living just miles apart, to illustrate the deep inequities of water distribution amid crippling drought. The contrast between the two farm fields — one a virtual desert, while a short distance away sprinklers douse crops and cattle graze on green grass — illustrates the arcane water allocation rules determining who will wither and who will thrive amid the ongoing drought in the American West.Using this striking example, the journalists explored how farmers, out of necessity, are considering proposals to set up water banks that use the supply and demand principles of the free market to funnel scarce water where it’s needed most while encouraging conservation. But the concept also brings risk and resistance.Flaccus reported on the ground in and around Madras, Oregon, and shot video, while Peterson reported from Denver and produced the video, which featured Howard’s striking photos and drone footage of the drought’s impact. Top Stories Desk photo editor Alyssa Goodman in New York drew all the elements together in an engaging presentation that saw remarkable play in the West and beyond.https://aplink.news/a4uhttps://aplink.video/k19

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Sept. 17, 2021

Beat of the Week

(Honorable Mention)

20th anniversary coverage of 9/11 touches all corners of AP

came together in September 2001 for an unprecedented news challenge that ushered in a new era. Twenty years later it reconvened to help make sense of the world that 9/11 left behind. It did so with style, substance and an unerring customer focus — and by harnessing the power of the global news organization.

The early brief called for chronicling the changes in the world without being merely a look back. With that in mind, AP staffers around the world started brainstorming last spring. Robust communication with customers, who wanted their material early, was baked into the process from the outset, as was a platform that showcased content eagerly sought by AP members and clients.Throughout the summer, staffers worked to capture a broad variety of themes: the rise of conspiracy theories, changes in air travel, the experiences of Muslim Americans since 9/11 and the legacy of wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, to name just a few. Newly revealing first-person accounts from AP staffers who were there that day showed what it was like to live through Sept. 11.Longtime Afghanistan correspondent Kathy Gannon took a break from dangerous spot coverage to write the opening installment of the anniversary package, and the “centerpieces” that moved in advance of Sept. 11 represented AP coverage at its very best: global, multiformat, customer-focused and brimming with the expertise of journalists who have covered their respective disciplines for years, if not decades. Each day brought innovative video, compelling photos, insightful writing and a new, richly designed digital presentation bringing it all together.The work was amplified by sharp curation and advance social media work. And on the anniversary itself, AP’s East Region and Washington bureau collaborated to chronicle a nation still in mourning but also moving on. https://apnews.com/hub/9-11-a-...

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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

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Sept. 10, 2021

Beat of the Week

(Honorable Mention)

AP leads all-formats coverage of opioids settlement, victims

spearheaded all-formats coverage of the landmark opioid bankruptcy settlement involving OxyContin maker Purdue Pharma while keeping victims’ voices at the forefront.In the days leading up to the settlement, Mulvihill — a member of AP’s State Government Team who has been AP’s lead writer on dozens of opioid cases in recent years — wrote preparedness, contacted all the key parties to understand what the federal judge might do, and lined up numerous victims and opioid treatment advocates for comment. He and others coordinated with photo and video journalists to ensure strong visuals on the day of the settlement and to accompany a victim-focused story for the next news cycle.When the Purdue decision was imminent, Mulvihill immediately contacted the filing team, prompting the team to alter the prepared alert and story lead to more accurately reflect what the judge was deciding. He then co-reported the follow-up story that focused on how opioid victims and their families were reacting to the end of the legal case against Purdue. He also turned around a weekend story about the issue central to the coming appeals process — the controversial legal immunity given to Purdue’s owners, the Sackler family.Mulvihill’s work continually kept AP out front on a hotly competitive story that was watched closely by millions across the U.S. who have been affected by the crisis.https://aplink.news/a34https://aplink.news/4pphttps://aplink.news/jkvhttps://aplink.video/8j0

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Sept. 10, 2021

Beat of the Week

(Honorable Mention)

Sweeping team coverage as wildfire threatens Lake Tahoe

teamed up across formats, beats and states, drawing on AP resources throughout the West to dominate coverage of the high-profile Northern California wildfires that threatened an international gem, Lake Tahoe.Striking photos by Noah Berger and Jae Hong captured the drama as the fire raged toward the resort city and a vast swath of the Sierra Nevada. Report for America journalist Sam Metz was indefatigable on the ground, interviewing rescue workers, residents and firefighters, then capturing the chaos of the evacuation. Reporters John Antczak, Janie Har and Jocelyn Gecker worked the phones from Los Angeles and San Francisco providing detail and context as they wrote the spot stories. Video journalist Terence Chea and Michelle L. Price reported on people who refused to leave.For this latest in a series of major blazes, the West region dug to identify wildfire-related stories of interest beyond the breaking news, including Tom Verdin’s story on the special sites that were threatened, Don Thompson’s assessment of what went wrong in fighting the blaze, Brian Melley’s report on canceled vacations nationwide and a piece by Metz and Scott Sonner on price gouging.https://aplink.news/rwdhttps://aplink.news/qo4https://aplink.news/slxhttps://aplink.news/cp0https://aplink.video/4jlhttps://aplink.video/a3bhttps://apnews.com/hub/wildfires

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July 23, 2021

Beat of the Week

(Honorable Mention)

AP reveals the inside story of glaring vaccine inequity globally

turned a year spent tracking global vaccine distribution into an authoritatively sobering assessment: A grotesque vaccine disparity has emerged between rich and poor countries, at a scale even experts who’d warned of inequitable distribution hadn’t envisioned.Tapping connections worldwide, including officials and bankers who participated in key behind-the-scenes vaccine discussions in Europe and the U.S., the AP trio found that negotiators acknowledged they could have made bigger demands of pharmaceutical companies — but that it was now too late. They also learned that COVAX, the United Nations’ vaccine procurement effort, simply did not have the cash to make deals when rich countries were buying up all the supplies, while pleas for funding to the World Bank and others were rejected.What emerged was a richly reported piece that lays out the specific reasons behind the glaring disparities and contradicts the sweeping pandemic rhetoric about global solidarity: European and American officials deeply involved in bankrolling and distributing the vaccines told the AP there was no thought of how to handle the situation globally. Instead, they jostled for their own domestic use. https://aplink.news/wjg

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Sept. 03, 2021

Beat of the Week

(Honorable Mention)

Only on AP: US veteran determined not to lose Afghan colleague

spent months building a relationship with U.S. Army veteran Spencer Sullivan and his Afghan translator Abdulhaq Sodais, leading to exclusive video and photos of them meeting in Germany and a layered, all-formats story on Sullivan’s battle to keep America’s promise to bring his comrade to safety.After his first translator was killed by the Taliban while waiting for a U.S. visa, Sullivan felt the U.S. had betrayed its promise to help those who risked their lives interpreting for American troops. Sullivan was determined not to let Sodais, who used smugglers to get to Europe and feared being sent back to Afghanistan, suffer the same fate. The situation took on urgency as the Taliban seized control and the U.S. withdrew from Afghanistan.Sullivan flew from Virginia to Germany to help Sodais prepare for his Sept. 6 asylum hearing. At that point, the global footprint of AP paved the way for a good story to become great: Rome video journalist Andrea Rosa and Amsterdam photographer Peter Dejong met the pair in Germany and shot moving photos and video of the men together, with Sullivan trying to assure a terrified Sodais that he would be OK.Watson, based in San Diego, wove that reporting into the text story, producing a detailed picture of the relationship between the two. The result was a rich, layered multiformat package that took people on a journey through one soldier’s attempt to make a small difference in the middle of a chaotic situation, all too aware of the price if he fails.https://aplink.news/xxfhttps://aplink.video/k33

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Sept. 03, 2021

Best of the Week — First Winner

Washington team breaks multiple stories; keeps AP ahead during Afghanistan withdrawal

As AP’s staff in Afghanistan grappled with the turmoil of the U.S. evacuation, an AP trio half a world away — Pentagon reporters Bob Burns and Lita Baldor and State Department reporter Matt Lee, with contributions by colleagues — set the standard, breaking news on the month’s most competitive story.

Whether posing tough questions at government briefings or getting the deeper story through one-on-one reporting, the reporters turned out crisp stories that were fair, accurate and authoritative. From the eyebrow-raising visit of two U.S. lawmakers, to the suicide bombing outside Kabul’s airport, to analysis of the ultimate beneficiary of America’s $83 billion expenditure, their coverage kept AP consistently out front.

For repeatedly scooping the competition and setting the news agenda on the closely watched, fast-developing events in Afghanistan, the team of Bob Burns, Lita Baldor and Matthew Lee is AP’s Best of the Week — First Winner.

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Aug. 27, 2021

Beat of the Week

(Honorable Mention)

Bad reactions: AP finds US civility plunging over COVID restrictions

harnessed AP’s national reach to report on the fast-declining civility over mask requirements and pandemic precautions.An Alabama man drove to Missouri to serve citizen arrest papers on a hospital administrator over his insistence that people get vaccinated. Protesters beamed strobe lights into the condo building of Hawaii’s lieutenant governor and blanketed his neighborhood with anti-semitic posters to protest new restrictions amid a record surge in hospitalizations. A California parent punched a teacher in the face over mask requirements and county commissioners in Kansas were compared to the Taliban and Nazis at a mask meeting that went off the rails.With these examples rising to the surface, the reporting team assembled a smart, authoritative piece on how public discourse in America has plunged to new depths. The story led member sites, made newspaper front pages in 10 different states and was among the most-read stories on AP News over the weekend. AP Deputy Managing Editor Noreen Gillespie called it a shining example of illustrating “how a theme is rippling across the country.” https://aplink.news/bbp

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Aug. 27, 2021

Beat of the Week

(Honorable Mention)

Vivid package examines wild horse conflict amid Western drought

collaborated on an evocative, in-depth examination of the U.S. government’s roundups of wild horses on the arid plains of the American West. The roundups have expanded during this year’s megadrought. Federal land managers say they are increasing the number of horses removed from the range to protect the parched land and the animals themselves, but wild-horse advocates accuse the government of using the conditions as an excuse to move out the iconic animals to preserve cattle grazing.Photographer Bowmer and Salt Lake City colleague Whitehurst attended a July roundup on the plains west of Salt Lake City and watched from a mountaintop perch as about 300 horses were corralled to be adopted or kept in captivity. Bowmer’s striking images include helicopters swooping low to corral the horses as the mustangs gallop away, and horses gathered around watering holes against a mountain landscape. Whitehurst and Denver reporter Anderson weaved color into the story, describing the horses’ high-pitched whinnies rising into the dry air, while explaining how the summer roundups have escalated tensions between government officials and the horse advocates. The package was used by countless members in the West and elsewhere in the country.https://aplink.news/7ulhttps://apnews.com/hub/drought...

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Aug. 06, 2021

Best of the States

As wells dry up in parched US West, AP reports on residents now without running water

The extreme drought in the American West has already taken a dramatic toll. And now, near the Oregon-California border, as many as several hundred wells have dried up in the past few weeks, leaving dozens of homeowners in the parched region with no running water at all. Reporter Gillian Flaccus and freelance photographer Nathan Howard documented the residents’ plight and the challenges facing authorities responding to the situation.

Flaccus used sources she had built in months of reporting on the dire conditions in the Klamath River Basin, convincing people to let Howard depict their hardship over water in photos and video. Digital storyteller Samantha Shotzbarger then weaved all the elements into a compelling multimedia offering. The story drew widespread play in the U.S., especially in the West.

For continuing to shine light on the effects of the drought afflicting the U.S. West, Flaccus, Howard and Shotzbarger win this week’s Best of the States award.

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July 30, 2021

Beat of the Week

(Honorable Mention)

50 years after the US declared war on drugs, AP examines racial disparities

used data and on-the-ground reporting to explore the fallout of America’s war on drugs, launched 50 years ago this summer by President Richard Nixon.Race and ethnicity reporter Morrison, joined by data journalist Kastanis and multiformat journalist Breed, set out to tell a story of the toll that harsh prison sentences and lifetime restrictions post-release have taken on Black and Latino Americans, their families and their communities.To do so, the AP reviewed federal and state data, finding that the Black incarceration rate in America surged from about 600 per 100,000 people in 1970 to 1,808 in 2000, and the rate for the Latino population grew from 208 per 100,000 people to 615, while the white incarceration rate grew at a more modest rate, from 103 per100,000 people to 242.But beyond the data, the AP trio put names and a face to those caught up in this grinding war with no clear winners but many losers. The story’s lead subject, Alton Lucas, could have had a life of touring nationally and internationally with his DJ friend, but instead discovered drugs and the drug trade at the height of the war on drugs. As a crack cocaine addict involved in trafficking, the North Carolina man faced decades in prison at a time when the drug abuse and violence plaguing Black communities were not seen as the public health issue that opioids are today. The combination of Morrison’s deep reporting, Breed’s photos and video, and Kastanis’ data analysis, accompanied by graphics, resulted in a newsy, nuanced package, rich with historical context.https://aplink.news/k6jhttps://aplink.video/017

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July 30, 2021

Best of the Week — First Winner

AP gets first look inside China’s largest detention center, breaks news on Uyghur incarceration

The sprawling Urumqi No. 3 Detention Center in Xinjiang, China, is the largest such facility in China (possibly the world), holding perhaps 10,000 or more and embodying the plight of the Uyghurs and other mostly Muslim minorities. Western news organizations have only been able to report from the outside. But the Beijing-based team of enterprise journalist Dake Kang, photographer Mark Schiefelbein and news director Ken Moritsugu managed to get a tour, making the AP the first Western news organization to report inside the facility.

They delivered a vivid package on life inside the detention center, from numbered and tagged Uyghurs sitting ramrod straight to the instructions on force-feeding in the medical room. The journalists also revealed a disturbing new trend: China is moving from the temporary detention of Uyghurs to more permanent mass incarceration of people who have committed no real crime.

The story topped AP’s reader engagement for the week and drew comment from the U.S. ambassador to the United Nations who called China’s repression of the Uyghurs “horrific.”

For bringing the world rare insight into the detention centers where China holds Uyghurs, the team of Kang, Schiefelbein and Moritsugu earns AP’s Best of the Week award.

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July 30, 2021

Best of the States

Only on AP: 20 years later, chaplain’s litany of prayers for US troops killed in Afghanistan finally comes to an end

With the end of the war in Afghanistan looming, national writer Matt Sedensky sought a compelling way to humanize America’s longest war — and he found it. Nearly all the American troops killed in the war had their remains returned to Dover Air Force Base in Delaware, where the military runs a mortuary. There, Sedensky found chaplain David Sparks, who had been called to active duty after 9/11, assigned to the mortuary, and had been there ever since.

Sedensky pieced together Sparks’ experience: writing hundreds of prayers for the dead, standing beside their disfigured remains and ministering to their broken families. Joined by New York video journalist Jessie Wardarski and Washington photographer Carolyn Kaster, the team had access to parts of the base hidden far from public view. The resulting package, with Sedensky’s expressive prose and affecting visuals by Wardarski and Kaster, generated a strong response from veterans and non-military alike.

For intimate, revealing work that eloquently writes one of the closing chapters of America’s 20-year war, the team of Sedensky, Kaster and Wardarski earns this week’s Best of the States award.

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July 23, 2021

Best of the States

Smart prep, sharp execution put AP out front on obit of prominent civil rights leader Gloria Richardson

Among the toughest obits to write on the fly are those for people who were hugely influential but rarely heard from in their later years. AP’s Brian Witte, however, was fully prepared when he got an exclusive tip on a Friday evening that prominent civil rights figure Gloria Richardson had died at 99.

Witte, AP’s Annapolis, Maryland, correspondent, used carefully crafted, detailed prep and source work to break news of the death of the first Black woman to lead a sustained desegregation movement outside the South. Thanks in part to a striking 1963 AP photo of Richardson pushing away the bayonet of a National Guardsman, she came to symbolize fearlessness among civil rights activists.

Witte’s prep included an interview with Richardson’s biographer, building enough trust for the author to email him with first word of her death. He persuaded the biographer to share family contacts, scoring quotes that forced many outlets to cite AP. Witte’s story, linked with archival photos, hit the wire early Friday evening, beating all competition and receiving strong play.

For insightful, resourceful reporting that puts Richardson's significant legacy back in the public eye, Witte earns this week’s Best of the States award.

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