June 16, 2023

Best of the Week — First Winner

A boat carrying 180 Rohingya vanished, underscoring migration politics led to rise in deaths

Sydney investigative correspondent Kristen Gelineau, who has covered the Rohingya crisis since 2017, heard from a young Rohingya source about a surge in people leaving a camp in Bangladesh. And then one boat vanished.

Two sources confirmed that they’d heard about the boat vanishing. There was no official investigation — and not a single word had been written about the missing migrants.

It took two months of all-out lobbying, calling in favors from every contact in Bangladesh, to finally get a visa to go. Gelineau left 48 hours later, and Dhaka video journalist Al-emrun Garjon and photographer Mahmud Hossain Opu joined her. There were so many families desperate to talk that the AP journalists literally had a line of them waiting to speak. Many were in tears, clutching photos of their lost loved ones. Huge credit goes to our Rohingya sources, who literally risked their lives to get the truth out about this boat — tracking down sources, triple-checking facts, translating. We cannot name them for their safety, but we very much want to acknowledge them.

McKinnon de Kuyper put together the heartbreaking video, which included the call from the woman on the boat and the story was our most engaged on AP digital platforms for the day, with a perfect engagement score of 100.

For persistence in telling a story that might otherwise have remained untold, Gelineau, Garjon, Opu, de Kuyper and anonymous stringers in Bangladesh with this week’s first citation for Best of the Week.

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Oct. 20, 2023

Best of the Week — First Winner

AP reporters jump to cover Hamas rampage and sudden new Israel-Hamas war 

The first word came at 6:25 a.m., Oct. 7 local time: Red alerts were issued via WhatsApp for several locations in Israel. Sirens could be heard in Tel Aviv. AP journalists saw rockets being shot from Rafah in Gaza towards Israel. Then word filtered in from the Israeli army that there were numerous security breaches in central and southern Israel. More rockets fell, with Israeli ambulances dispatched to areas where residents had reported strikes. Taken together, it told of an ominous new day in the region. 

The first of what would be many AP news alerts moved 20 minutes later: Israel says Palestinian militants have infiltrated into Israeli territory from Gaza. 

What unfolded over the days was massive in its scope: The militant armed group Hamas executed a well-planned surprise attack on what would normally be a joyful holiday, Simchat Torah.

The Israeli army, caught off guard, struggled for days to regain control of the invaded towns. Israel released counterstrikes into Gaza, killing hundreds. Over the next 10 days the toll would rise to thousands dead in Gaza and in Israel.

Throughout the conflict, the teams in Israel and Gaza worked with courage, determination and excellence under extremely challenging circumstances to report on the painful events affecting them and their families. They earn Best of the Week — First Winner.

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Oct. 27, 2023

Best of the Week — First Winner

Special Citation: Israel-Hamas War coverage

Since Oct. 7, Associated Press staff in Gaza and Israel have worked tirelessly to cover the war — and to go beyond the news with deep, impactful coverage.

From live feeds and NR/CR videos to powerful photographs, text stories, audio and interactives, the Associated Press has written the first draft of history by covering the spot news around the clock — and by going deeper with resonant journalism about individuals directly affected by the war. These stories are written by colleagues who themselves have evacuated their homes and struggle to get food and water, by colleagues for whom air raid sirens have become a part of daily life.

Outside of the region, colleagues have written thoughtful analysis and all-formats takeouts on the broader resonance of the Israel-Hamas war. They’ve edited text, photos and video and worked to ensure that our standards are met throughout the report.

Because of that work across the AP, we this week honor all of those colleagues who’ve contributed to the urgency, breadth and depth of the report across all formats in our coverage of the Israel-Hamas war with a Special Citation, most especially those in the region.

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Dec. 22, 2023

Best of the Week — First Winner

Team shines spotlight on underage Rohingya girls forced into abusive marriages

Underage Rohingya girls are forced into abusive marriages in Malaysia so their families in Bangladesh can eat. In safehouses, AP met with child brides who managed to get unlocked from their bedrooms to share their plights.

Human rights workers warned it would be almost impossible to track the girls down. Yet an AP team not only found them, but interviewed them without putting them at risk of reprisal.

Investigative correspondent Kristen Gelineau, based in Sydney, Australia, tracked down an advocate in Malaysia who was herself a Rohingya child bride and carefully coordinated a plan with each girl. Some concocted an excuse to leave their homes and met with AP at safehouses. Many simply could not get unlocked.

The team coordinated interview times with the girls so they could arrive at their homes after their husbands had left for work and leave well before they returned.

Indonesia video journalist and business correspondent Victoria Milko filmed in their dark and claustrophobic apartments, capturing both the youth and isolation of the girls while protecting their anonymity.

McKinnon de Kuyper made a heartbreaking edit of the video, taking advantage of previous filming of Rohingya families who were victims of a boat drowning by video journalist Garjon Al-emrun.

For allowing the AP to be the first media to give these girls a voice, Gelineau, Milko, de Kuyper and Al-emrun are Best of the Week — First Winners.

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Jan. 05, 2024

Best of the Week — First Winner

AP investigates Russia’s cover-up of deaths caused by dam explosion in Ukraine

More than six months after the explosion that destroyed the Kakhovka Dam in Ukraine’s Kherson region, an AP investigation by Samya Kullab and Ilia Novikov found that Russian occupation authorities vastly and deliberately undercounted the dead. The AP inquiry came the closest yet to revealing the real number of deaths Russia tried to hide from the dam’s destruction, which Ukrainians believe was carried out to hamper the Ukrainian counteroffensive across the Dnipro River. Russia has denied it was responsible.

AP Kyiv correspondent Kullab and news assistant Novikov were working on a different story about how residents of the affected town of Oleshky were returning slowly to Ukraine. During their reporting, a source told them of a mass grave. That sent Kullab and Novikov in a fresh direction, and the story of the hidden deaths developed from there. Eventually, the AP spoke to health workers, volunteers, residents and recent escapees who provided invaluable details. Instead of the 59 people Russian authorities said drowned in the territory they control, AP found the real number is at least in the hundreds in just one town.

For dogged pursuit of the facts and allowing victims and their survivors to be heard, Kullab and Novikov earn Best of the Week — First Winner.

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