June 25, 2021

Best of the Week — First Winner

Years in the making, AP’s ‘AWOL Weapons’ investigation prompts immediate Pentagon reaction

Ten years ago, Kristin M. Hall noticed several cases in which U.S. troops stole military guns and sold them to the public. Hall, a military beat reporter at the time, then fired off the first of many Freedom of Information Act requests. The Army, however, refused to release any records and the story could easily have ended there, with Hall moving on to become a Nashville-based entertainment video journalist focused on country music. Yet, she kept at it.

Last week, Hall’s decade-long journey — and the work of a host of others on the global investigations, data and immersive storytelling teams — paid off in “AWOL Weapons,” a multilayered, visually rich project revealing that at least 1,900 military weapons — from handguns to rocket launchers — had been either lost or stolen during the 2010s, with some used in street violence in America.

Two days after publication, the Pentagon’s top general and the Army each said they would seek systematic fixes for the missing weapon problem, and through a spokesman, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff called AP’s investigation “another example of the free press shining a light on the important subjects we need to get right.”

With deep reporting and a riveting digital presentation, the multistory package saw outstanding customer use and reader engagement.

For remarkable persistence that revealed a problem the military wanted to keep quiet, generating immediate prospects for reform, Hall receives special distinction alongside colleagues Justin Pritchard, James LaPorta, Justin Myers and Jeannie Ohm as winners of AP’s Best of the Week award.

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Aug. 13, 2021

Beat of the Week

(Honorable Mention)

AP’s tally of lawmakers: Cuomo was almost certain to be impeached

made AP first to report authoritatively that a majority of New York lawmakers favored removing Gov. Andrew Cuomo from office in the days before he resigned.As soon as New York's attorney general released a report concluding that Gov. Andrew Cuomo sexually harassed 11 women — and with Cuomo appearing to resist top Democrats’ calls for his resignation — the AP journalists began working the phones and reviewing social media postings, pressing to get every member of the Assembly on the record about whether they would move to impeach Cuomo.By midday on Aug. 4, a day after the report’s release, their tally of lawmakers favoring impeachment had climbed to 86, allowing AP to move an alert saying that more than half of the body’s 150 members favored initiating the process of ousting Cuomo — enough to authorize an impeachment trial. Peltz crafted the findings and other developments into a newsmaking story about the governor's perilous position, and over the next few days the team continued updating their tally as it climbed to nearly two-thirds of the Assembly.The reporting was widely used by online, print and broadcast members, with CBS reading the report on air and CNN crediting the AP’s work. https://aplink.news/8ar

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Aug. 06, 2021

Beat of the Week

(Honorable Mention)

AP exclusive as fired anti-corruption prosecutor flees Guatemala

had spent years cultivating a rapport with Juan Francisco Sandoval, Guatemala’s special prosecutor against corruption, who had won praise from U.S. officials for work that rattled Guatemala’s most powerful citizens, including President Alejandro Giammattei.Her efforts paid off when Sandoval was abruptly fired, a move that would lead the U.S. to temporarily suspend cooperation with the office of Guatemala’s attorney general. After attending the post-firing news conference, Pérez was ushered into the office of the country’s human rights ombudsman and invited to be the sole journalist to accompany Sandoval in his small convoy of armored SUVs as he fled the country. Across the border in El Salvador, Pérez reported on his comments and took photos and video, agreeing for safety reasons to publish only once he had safely boarded a flight to the United States hours later.Pérez’s story moved early the next morning and was used by major national and international outlets; a competitive agency didn't report Sandoval's exit until later that day and did so citing the human rights ombudsman.https://aplink.news/z1ehttps://aplink.video/mt3

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Aug. 06, 2021

Best of the Week — First Winner

Deep reporting on a failed KKK murder plot reveals white supremacists working in Florida prison

Some stories just stick with a journalist. For AP investigative reporter Jason Dearen, a sparse 2015 announcement — three currrent or former Florida prison guards, identified by the FBI as Ku Klux Klansmen, had been arrested for plotting a former inmate’s murder — sparked a yearslong reporting effort.

Dearen’s big break came last summer when trial transcripts revealed an FBI informant was the star witness against the KKK members, his secret recordings providing a rare, detailed look at the inner workings of the klan cell and the domestic terrorism probe. Dearen and visual journalist David Goldman retraced the klansmen’s steps through Palatka, Florida, then producers Marshall Ritzel, Samantha Shotzbarger and Peter Hamlin stepped in to create a riveting online presentation.

The resulting all-formats package had immediate impact, with Florida papers featuring it on home pages and front pages, and prompting calls for investigations into white supremacy among prison workers. The story found 360,000 readers on AP News and kept them there for an average of more than five minutes — longer than any other AP story in memory.

For dogged reporting and an immersive all-formats narrative that exposes a salient, timely issue, Dearan, Goldman, Ritzel, Shotzbarger and Hamlin win AP’s Best of the Week 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 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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July 23, 2021

Beat of the Week

(Honorable Mention)

AP team finds first evidence of Belarus facilitating migrant wave

collaborated on an “Only on AP” package documenting Belarusian authorities’ involvement in a recent surge of immigration from Belarus into Lithuania. In the past two months more than 1,700 have crossed the border — 20 times the total for all of 2020.Lithuanian and European Union officials have accused Belarus of assisting the migration in retaliation over EU sanctions against the regime of President Alexander Lukashenko, but no evidence had been provided and no media outlets had been able to speak to the migrants themselves, who are held in heavily guarded, makeshift camps in Lithuania.The determined all-formats trio of Chernov, Dapkus and Kulbis, seeking to hear from the migrants themselves, drove from camp to camp, more than 600 kilometers (375 miles), eventually finding two smaller, remote camps where police allowed the journalists to speak with migrants. People confirmed they were paying to be taken to Europe via Belarus, and that Belarus had helped them get to Lithuania. AP was allowed inside one of the camps to briefly make photos and video of the migrants’ living conditions.With Karmanau reporting from Belarus and Isachakov in Moscow pulling all the reporting into a cohesive piece, the resulting all-formats exclusive revealed how migrants have once again been caught up in a game of political brinksmanship.https://aplink.news/fwdhttps://aplink.video/flk

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July 09, 2021

Best of the Week — First Winner

Reporter’s instincts, deep preparation break stunning news of Cosby case reversal and prison release

Comedian Bill Cosby had been in a Pennsylvania prison for more than two years last December when the state’s high court took on his appeal of his sexual assault conviction.

As seven months went by without a decision, Philadelphia-based legal affairs reporter Maryclaire Dale — who had been instrumental in breaking the original Cosby story — thought there might be something newsy in the works. Her instincts led to deep preparation that put AP ahead on one of the biggest news stories of the summer, one that almost no one but Dale had anticipated.

When the court tweeted out its opinion Wednesday, AP’s news alert moved within minutes, followed less than one minute later with a short breaking news story that Cosby's conviction was overturned, and that he would be released from prison. Both alerts beat all the competition; a full story moved less than two minutes later. Dale and colleagues followed up with full coverage throughout the day, with Cosby later appearing before cameras at his home, as the original news story drew heavy engagement online and maintained the top spot in Google’s news carousel.

For sharp anticipation and flawless execution that put AP ahead on a story that dominated the news cycle, Dale earns AP’s Best of the Week award.

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July 02, 2021

Best of the States

A photographer’s unique vision merges past and present for front-line nurses

With the U.S. slowly emerging from COVID-19, it might be easy to assume that the pandemic will soon be in the past, but for many, particularly health care workers, the trauma of what they experienced while caring for deathly sick patients will be with them for years to come.

To capture the idea that the past can be part of the present, Los Angeles photographer Jae Hong focused on intensive care nurses at a Southern California hospital who had taken care of extremely ill COVID patients and, despite all efforts, had lost many. That ward closed this spring, but the memories endure for these nurses.

Hong’s approach called for a photo technique not typically used in reporting the news: He made multiple exposure portraits of 10 of the nurses in the hospital, resulting in haunting images that show each nurse both in the photo, the present, and seemingly somewhere else in the past.

Accompanied by revealing interviews, the piece played widely in the U.S. and beyond, and attracted attention on social media.

For arresting, interpretive photography that evokes the lingering effects of the pandemic on these front-line medical workers, Hong earns this week’s Best of the States award.

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July 02, 2021

Beat of the Week

(Honorable Mention)

AP: Overdose deaths for Black American soar during pandemic

teamed up to make AP first to report on how the pandemic exacerbated the spread of opioid addiction among Black Americans. Their story focused on St. Louis, bringing to light a new consequence of the coronavirus and racial injustice, major themes of the past year, showing that the pandemic accelerated a trend that was already in the works: The spread of opioid addiction from mostly rural, white communities to more urban, Black neighborhoods. The reporting placed this trend squarely in a history of drug addiction in America that has long discriminated against Black people, and described how even today, the best drug abuse treatment is more accessible to white people than to Black people. As one doctor put it, the soaring death rate from drug addiction has become a pressing civil rights issue. The story was sensitively told in text, photos and video, with poignant details, including one mother fearing her son’s overdose death for so long that she paid for his funeral in monthly installments. The care taken in telling this story was rewarded with AP’s second-highest reader engagement metrics of the day.https://aplink.news/ak7https://aplink.video/ce5https://aplink.photos/kgr

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May 14, 2021

Best of the States

Nimble AP reporting reveals Alabama trooper charged in child rape hid alleged misconduct at FBI

In a classic case of keeping an open mind during reporting, AP’s Jim Mustian and Kim Chandler started out reporting one story, but found themselves reporting exclusively that an Alabama state trooper, arrested on charges he raped an 11-year-old girl, had used a forged letter and lied on his application to get hired after being removed from the FBI — also on serious allegations of sexual misconduct.

To federal law enforcement reporter Mustian, this initially appeared as yet another case of the FBI allowing an accused agent to quietly move on with his career. But just as he was about to publish, the FBI said the bureau letter Christopher Bauer submitted to Alabama authorities when he was hired was “not legitimate.” Meanwhile, Chandler, Montgomery statehouse reporter, tracked down Bauer’s application for the trooper job, in which he said he was still employed by the FBI and had never been forced to resign because of disciplinary action.

This had become the story of a former agent, and perhaps others, falsifying his record. The piece was among the week’s top stories on AP News, with nearly 200,000 pageviews.

For deep reporting that followed the story wherever it took them, Mustian and Chandler earn this week’s Best of the States award.

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June 25, 2021

Beat of the Week

(Honorable Mention)

Exclusive AP interviews make headlines on Nepal, Tibet, India

landed key interviews in quick succession to drive the South Asia news agenda.Persistence by Kathmandu’s Gurubacharya paid off when Nepal’s newly appointed health minister, Sher Bahadur Tamang, revealed on camera that Nepal was in desperate need of vaccines and would allow any vaccine producer to run trials and produce vaccines with all fees waived.Meanwhile, across the border in India, Bhatia conducted a timely Zoom interview with the new president of the Tibetan government-in-exile, Penpa Tsering, in the northern city of Dharmsala, where the Dalai Lama has been living since fleeing Chinese forces in 1959. Tsering said a visit by the Dalai Lama to Tibet could be the best way to resume talks with China. Tsering’s extensive comments contrasted with a recent Chinese-led media tour of Tibet.And a day later, Delhi’s Pathi arranged an on-camera interview with Dr. Vinod K. Paul, head of India’s COVID-19 response team. He defended the India’s move to restrict vaccine exports, saying India wants to resume exports but can’t do so until its domestic needs are met. Paul also denied that the government was deliberately undercounting deaths or cases.The exclusive interviews elevated AP’s news report across formats, making headlines with regional and international customers.https://aplink.news/9u8https://aplink.news/5c9https://aplink.news/cddhttps://aplink.video/dfchttps://aplink.video/2vz

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June 18, 2021

Beat of the Week

(Honorable Mention)

Deep preparation and experience put AP ahead on Mladic verdict

teamed up to provide exceptional coverage in all formats of the final verdict for Bosnian Serb military chief Ratko Mladic, in which U.N. judges rejected his appeals on charges of orchestrating genocide, crimes against humanity and war crimes, affirming his life sentence.Chief correspondent Corder worked closely with AP colleagues in the Balkans in the days leading up to the verdict to prepare for all the possible outcomes, preparing alerts and urgents for each, as well as for the possibility that victims’ groups could leak the verdict early. Knowing that the victims’ representatives are not always accurate, Corder held off on the alert until AP had the full verdict from the judges, and other major world media followed his lead.Photographer Dejong, who had covered Mladic’s appearances at the court over several years, patiently waited for the one moment during the long verdict when the ex-commander made a hand gesture — holding up his fingers as if clicking a shutter to mimic the photographers fixed on him. The image circled the world.AP had four different live shots up for a good part of the day on AP Direct and Live Choice, compared with a single courtroom feed that a major competitor accessed at the last minute. AP put out a video edit of the verdict 44 minutes ahead of the competition, and was much faster with reaction from the victims and their families in Sarajevo and Srebrenica, and from Serb veterans, comrades of Mladic and people in Belgrade.https://aplink.news/h1rhttps://aplink.video/ub0https://aplink.video/rz4https://aplink.video/gmx

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June 11, 2021

Beat of the Week

(Honorable Mention)

AP Exclusive: Gaza family loses 22 people on war’s deadliest night

teamed up to tell the story of the heavy toll paid by Gaza’s civilians in last month’s war between Israel and Hamas militants, with scores of civilians dead and hundreds of homes destroyed. Looking for a way to tell that story, Laub and Akram went through a list of people killed in Israeli airstrikes, then noticed that the youngest and oldest victims came from the same family — the Kawlaks.The family of four generations lived next door to each other in downtown Gaza City, unprepared for the Israeli air raid that came at about 1 a.m. on May 16, causing homes belonging to the family to collapse. The Kawlaks lost 22 members that night — including the 89-year-old family patriarch and his 6-month-old great grandson who had just lost his first tooth. Three young nieces were found dead in a tight embrace, said one of the survivors. Israel said the strike, the single deadliest of the 11-day war, was aimed at Hamas military targets in the crowded Gaza City neighborhood. Middle East news director Laub and Gaza reporter Akram made a series of visits to the family hoping to interview them. At first, they were reluctant, but the AP pair managed to gain their trust, eventually gettting an exclusive all-formats interview. Thanks to their efforts, the family shared death certificates of all of the victims, along with photos of the men and children. For cultural reasons, the family chose not to provide photos of the women.With strong visuals from video journalist Dumitrache and photographers Hamra and Dana, the result was a compelling account of the terrifying night of the bombing, the family’s immense grief and poignant remembrances of lost loved ones.https://aplink.news/s78https://aplink.video/1mg

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June 04, 2021

Beat of the Week

(Honorable Mention)

AP team in Ethiopia's Tigray region documents Eritrean atrocities

overcame government intimidation and security challenges to report from the ground on atrocities in Ethiopia’s Tigray region: Despite official denials, Eritrean soldiers are firmly entrenched in Tigray, brutally gang-raping women, killing civilians, looting hospitals and blocking food and medical aid. The coverage was funded by a grant from the Pulitzer Center on Crisis Reporting.Undeterred by initial difficulties obtaining visas for Ethiopia and then permission to visit Tigray, the all-formats team made their way to Mekele, where trustworthy local resources, including fixers, translators and drivers willing to be seen with foreign journalists needed to be found. Then the work of reporting began. Documenting cases of abuse was no easier, with roads blocked by troops at every turn. And having found victims and eyewitnesses, this resourceful team had to gain their trust.The resulting package is riveting, with searing interviews and arresting visuals, building on AP’s powerful body of coverage on the Tigray conflict over the past seven months.https://bit.ly/2SZUGlehttps://bit.ly/34ZBJSRhttps://bit.ly/3cidfIf

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June 04, 2021

Best of the States

Multiformat team delivers expansive AP coverage during centennial of Tulsa Race Massacre

With the 100th anniversary of the Tulsa Race Massacre months away, text and visual journalists from AP’s Race and Ethnicity, Central Region and Enterprise teams embarked on a plan to dig deeper into the story of the atrocity, well beyond just covering the centennial events.

The team started arriving in Tulsa weeks ahead of the anniversary to explore the city and meet descendants of massacre survivors, who opened up about the horrific event and how it continues to impact their families and the community. Among those they met was the family of Ernestine Alpha Gibbs, who survived the massacre and died 18 years ago at age 100.

Their efforts resulted in a comprehensive package of enterprise stories, from the lost wealth and racial inequality that Black Tulsans have endured, to the descendants of Black victims preparing to resume a search for mass graves, to an examination of how history books and law enforcement have depicted the massacre, and much more. 

The coverage was not without breaking news. In addition to a visit by President Joe Biden, AP learned that the weekend’s headline event was canceled because of a disagreement over payments to three survivors for their appearance at the event. 

For sweeping enterprise and spot coverage that raises awareness of this grim milestone in American race relations, this multiformat team earns AP’s Best of the States award.

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June 04, 2021

Best of the Week — First Winner

Unique AP visual investigation reveals Myanmar's junta using bodies to terrorize civilians

The video was startling: As a motorcycle carrying three men speeds down a city street in Myanmar, a soldier traveling in the back of a pickup truck opens fire. A man falls to the ground, mortally wounded, while the other two run away. 

Investigative reporters Robin McDowell and Margie Mason found that the video was one of many seeming to show the military firing at civilians indiscriminately in the wake of February’s coup. They also noticed that security forces appear to go out of their way to mutilate and drag bodies in the street, seemingly to terrorize the populace. The pair teamed up with the Human Rights Center Investigations Lab at the University of California, Berkeley, applying cutting-edge image analysis to thousands of social media posts and images online to reveal how the junta in Myanmar was using the bodies as tools of terror, according to human rights activists. 

With important contributions by Southeast Asia news director Kiko Rosario, and video by Manuel Valdes, the piece received more than 53,000 views on AP platforms.

For finding a way to analyze visual data from one of the world’s most secretive countries and presenting it in a rich and compelling multiformat narrative, McDowell, Mason, Rosario and Valdes earn AP’s Best of the Week award.

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May 28, 2021

Best of the States

Only on AP: A report of college rape, a Facebook admission years later and a woman’s fight for justice

“So I raped you.” 

That message on Facebook, years after Shannon Keeler left college, sent her back to the night as a freshman that changed her life. It also was the basis for her continued fight for justice, as well as this exclusive, powerful examination of campus sexual assault. AP’s Maryclaire Dale, a legal affairs reporter in Philadelphia, and video journalist Allen Breed interviewed Keeler and others, including a student who befriended Keeler on the night of the 2013 attack. That woman, Katayoun Amir-Aslani, told her story, too: She was raped later, by a different man.

The deeply reported all-formats package sheds light on often unreported college rapes, and the systemic obstacles students like Keeler face in their search for justice when they do report. The story drew major attention on AP News, where it was the most-read story for days. Other media rushed to match it, and Keeler has since told her story on network TV.

For sensitive and insightful reporting on a system that one of the victims describes as “broken,” Dale and Breed receive this week’s Best of the States award.

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May 21, 2021

Beat of the Week

(Honorable Mention)

Deep AP reporting on NFL’s race-adjusted brain injury settlements

reported that thousands of retired Black professional football players, their families and supporters are demanding an end to the use of “race-norming,” a practice the NFL has insisted on using in the league’s $1 billion brain injury settlement. Black NFL players delivered some 50,000 petitions to a federal court to end the practice.The algorithm used by the NFL assumes Black men start with lower cognitive skills. They must therefore score much lower than whites to show enough mental decline to win an award. The practice went unnoticed until 2018.Dale and Smith recognized that the story extends far beyond sports and money, to discrimination and racial injustice. Their deeply reported story quotes neurology experts who said the practice, sometimes used in medicine as a rough proxy for socioeconomic factors that can affect a person’s health, should not be used in the settlement because it has the effect of systematically discriminating against Black players. The story played widely; CBSN devoted eight minutes to the piece, calling it “a damning report.” https://aplink.news/rcp

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May 21, 2021

Beat of the Week

(Honorable Mention)

AP: WHO knew of sex misconduct by personnel in Congo

revealed that, contrary to World Health Organization claims, WHO senior management did know about at least two cases of doctors accused of sex abuse and misconduct during the Ebola outbreak in the Democratic Republic of Congo, but did not fire or even apparently discipline them.Health and science reporter Cheng advanced the story by putting names, for the first time, to the implicated doctors and a senior manager. She discovered that WHO managers even witnessed an agreement in which a WHO doctor agreed to pay a young woman he had allegedly impregnated.While Cheng worked with her sources, Congo stringer Kudra Maliro tracked down several alleged victims of both doctors, adding text and images. The investigation was based on interviews with dozens of WHO staffers, Ebola officials in Congo, private emails, legal documents and recordings of internal meetings obtained by the AP.The story drew strong and immediate international response. Paula Donovan, co-director of a group that tracks sex abuse, wrote: “Never ... have I seen such a detailed exposé containing so many unanswerable indictments against so many UN personnel. You’ve broken real ground here.”https://aplink.news/f39https://aplink.video/pk5

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