Jan. 20, 2023

Best of the Week — First Winner

Faceless portraits: Noroozi innovates to show struggle of Afghan women athletes

The best portraits capture a person’s essence, almost always by focusing on the human face. But AP photographer Ebrahim Noroozi, on assignment in Kabul temporarily from Iran, needed to do something different to show the effects of Afghanistan’s rule banning women playing sports.

Using the emblematic burqa to conceal the identities of the women athletes now forbidden from doing what they love best, Noroozi came up with the haunting series of faceless portraits to illustrate the erasure of Afghan women from public life under the Taliban.

Several female athletes who once played a variety of sports unrestricted posed for Noroozi with their athletic equipment – and their identities hidden by burqas, the all-encompassing robe and hood that completely covers the face, leaving only a swath of mesh to see through.

Noroozi’s images were published in an array of multimedia presentations by AP’s subscribers worldwide, including the Los Angeles Times and the Washington Post. The latter used them to illustrate a story about the near-simultaneous decision by Australia to cancel a men’s one-day international cricket series over the restrictions on women.

For innovation and sensitivity in showing a difficult subject, Noroozi earns Best of the Week – First Winner.

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May 19, 2023

Best of the Week — First Winner

AP’s cross-format coverage across borders dominates Title 42 coverage  

AP journalists in the U.S. and Latin America had been here before: Pandemic-related asylum restrictions in the U.S., known as Title 42, were set to expire at least twice in the previous year until courts intervened. This time though, they knew it was for real and spent weeks and months reporting smart stories about the consequences, from disinformation spread to would-be asylum seekers thousands of miles away to major shifts in U.S. immigration policy that will have effects for years to come. But it was in the days surrounding the expiration date itself that the expertise and collaboration of colleagues from California to Colombia and El Paso to Washington shone.  

Through combined efforts and seamless collaboration, these journalists produced not only deeply reported, people-focused and contextual spot coverage that showcased the AP footprint, but also resulted in a truly layered report including live video, photo galleries, dozens of video edits, vignettes, spot takeouts and several days of smart follows that dominated search and page views.   

For an extraordinary effort that showed the AP’s breadth and depth of knowledge on this issue, the team earns Best of the Week — First Winner. 

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April 28, 2023

Best of the Week — First Winner

AP reveals DEA chief is being investigated for contracts to past associates 

Josh Goodman and Jim Mustian reported exclusively that a federal watchdog is investigating whether the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration under chief Anne Milgram improperly used millions of dollars in no-bid contracts to flout normal governing hiring procedures to hire past associates at a very high cost.   

The two followed up on a previous scoop about the arrest of former DEA agent Jose Irizarry, who confessed to laundering money for Colombian drug cartels and skimming millions of dollars from asset seizures and informants.   

After an external review of the DEA’s foreign operations was slammed for underplaying its scandals, Latin America reporter Goodman and investigative reporter Mustian began asking questions.   

What they found was that a Washington law firm that was hired as part of a no-bid contract did the review, and that its author was the former right-hand man to one of Milgram’s closest friends, former Manhattan U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara. That led to more reporting, more questions and more sources talking about how the DEA used other no-bid contracts to hire Milgram’s past associates.  

For expert source reporting that holds accountable the DEA and its highest-ranking official, Goodman and Mustian win Best of the Week — First Winner. 

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April 21, 2023

Best of the Week — First Winner

Telling the epic story of perilous migration through one lost boat 

Two years ago, Barcelona video journalist Renata Brito learned of a mysterious boat that had washed up in Tobago with dead men aboard. With that, she and colleague Felipe Dana, a photographer and video journalist, began a dogged quest to find out who the men were, what had happened to them, and what heartbreak and unresolved questions they had left behind.     From Mauritania to France and Tobago, they found forensic evidence and built trust with a network of sources. By the end of their exhaustive journey, they knew who these men were and what led them to their deaths. They even confirmed one man’s identity with a DNA test. 

Immersive storytelling’s Nat Castañeda worked with Brito and Dana to shape the project, including a 13-minute minidocumentary. Immersive developer Linda Gorman worked up a complex interactive, and an Audience Engagement team led by Sophia Eppolito spent weeks developing a social plan.   

For compiling the compelling and tragic story of a group of doomed migrants who would otherwise have been forgotten, Brito, Dana, Gorman, Castañeda and Eppolito earn this week’s Best of the Week — First Winner. 

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Oct. 14, 2022

Best of the Week — First Winner

At the intersection of politics and religion, AP reports from Michael Flynn’s Christian nationalist road show

Michael Flynn’s ReAwaken America cross-country tour has attracted lots of media attention, but journalists trying to cover it have faced a hostile environment. So correspondent Michelle Smith and photographer Carolyn Kaster simply bought tickets to the tour’s stop in upstate New York.

The decision to go as attendees made all the difference: The two were fully engaged in Flynn’s world for two days, documenting an event at the heart of an ascendent Christian nationalist movement. And Washington colleague Richard Lardner added more reporting as he monitored the event on livestream.

The trio’s story, part of an AP investigation in partnership with PBS “Frontline,” detailed how Flynn and allies are using ReAwaken America to spread divisive rhetoric and conspiracy theories targeting democratic ideas and institutions while urging people to join and take action. The compelling all-formats coverage has won strong play and readership.For an up-close, insightful package on a far-right movement spearheaded by a former general close to Donald Trump, Smith, Kaster and Lardner earn AP’s Best of the Week — First Winner honors.

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Dec. 23, 2022

Beat of the Week

(Honorable Mention)

Census and race and ethnicity journalists tell multiformat story of Asian growth in Texas

used multiple formats to tell the story of Asian population growth in North Texas and how it's bringing change to the state. Spotting an Asian population growth trend in North Texas while covering the census beat, Schneider teamed up with Tang to get a fuller picture. The duo found a lot of the growth came from South Asians. Tang traveled to Texas, developing a story that put Texas’ growth into the context of overall Asian growth in the U.S. They also showed it’s not all Texas sunshine and smooth sailing for those trying to live their American dream. Some struggles, including racism and balancing being American and South Asian, can come with it.Read more.

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Nov. 25, 2022

Best of the Week — First Winner

Monthslong investigation weaves sordid tale of debauchery within DEA

"The drug war is a game,” José Irizarry told two AP reporters during his final moments of freedom. “It was a very fun game that we were playing.”

Irizarry’s decision to spend some of his last few hours before beginning a 12-year federal prison sentence with two AP reporters in early 2022 was a moment years in the making that yielded a bombshell bacchanal of a story -- itself months in the making.

Four years ago, just before starting at The Associated Press, New York-based investigative reporter Jim Mustian received a tip about a DEA investigation into one of the agency’s own agents in Colombia. That spiraled into a string of AP scoops by Mustian and Miami-based Latin America correspondent Joshua Goodman on DEA corruption in Latin America, including an exclusive on the arrest of that agent. Irizarry had been accused of conspiring with Colombian drug cartels to divert millions from DEA money laundering stings in what prosecutors called one of the worst betrayals in DEA history.

For a deeply reported and compelling investigation, telling the tale of a former war-on-drugs warrior who crossed multiple boundaries, Mustian and Goodman earn AP’s Best of the Week — First Winner honors.

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Nov. 11, 2022

Beat of the Week

(Honorable Mention)

AP: Search for solutions drives race to save Bonneville salt flats

collaborated on the most comprehensive coverage yet by a major news organization on a shrinking natural wonder, the Bonneville Salt Flats in northwest Utah near the Nevada border.The salt flats has long lured speed-obsessed racers and filmmakers, and, more recently, social media fans looking for a spectacular photo, but its future is in peril because the salt has been thinning for decades. When a Utah state agency launched yet another study to assess what was happening at the salt flats, AP’s Salt Lake City bureau recognized an opportunity explore the state of one the American West’s most unique sites.A thoroughly reported, reader-friendly story and impressive visuals — photos, drone images, video and digital animations — combined for a striking presentation that drew in readers.Read more

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Nov. 04, 2022

Beat of the Week

(Honorable Mention)

Exclusive AP analysis reveals pandemic learning setbacks

used AP’s exclusive access to the first district-by-district breakdown of pandemic test scores to report on massive learning setbacks during the pandemic.The pair, both members of AP’s Education team, previewed their analysis for AP members who could tailor their stories for local and statewide audiences — it was precisely that reach into local newsrooms around the U.S. that led researchers to share their data exclusively with AP.Lurye’s analysis required tremendous speed and accuracy, as data was delayed or updated on deadline. And Toness incisively summarized the national implications of the data: the scope of the pandemic’s disruption in kids’ lives, from the shortcomings of online learning to the trauma many American kids lived through, especially poor children.Read more

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Nov. 04, 2022

Best of the Week — First Winner

At the edge of the world, AP reports on resilient, defiant Alaska Native islanders facing climate change

More than 600 Inupiat Natives live in the village of Shishmaref, just a few miles from the Arctic Circle, watching climate change slowly shrink their small Alaskan island home. In early October, reporter Luis Andres Henao, video journalist Jessie Wardarski and photographer Jae Hong visited the village to document how the warming world inexorably threatens their way of life.

With advance outreach, and tactful overtures after their arrival, the journalists earned the trust of residents and civic leaders who have sometimes been wary of visitors. The ultimate result: a moving tribute to the villagers’ resilience and community spirit, rendered in striking visuals and poignant, insightful text.

The package — the first major look at how Shishmaref is determined to stay put as long as possible — earned prominent online display by major news outlets in the U.S. and abroad, including Spanish and French translations.

For an all-formats project vividly evoking the tenacity of a Native village threatened by climate change, the team of Henao, Wardarski and Hong is AP’s Best of the Week — First Winner.

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Nov. 04, 2022

Beat of the Week

(Honorable Mention)

Only on AP: No US-born Black players in the World Series

noticed at the 2005 World Series that the Houston Astros fielded a team without any U.S.-born Black players, prompting the AP baseball writer to wonder when he would cover a World Series without such a player on either team. The answer: 2022.Leaning on his previous reporting, reaching out to sources and working closely with Race and Ethnicity reporter Aaron Morrison for precise language about Black identity in baseball clubhouses, Walker and AP were alone in reporting that this year’s Astros-Phillies Fall Classic would be the first since 1950 without any U.S.-born Black players.In a World Series full of big names and rich storylines, Walker’s piece was undoubtedly the buzz of baseball in the days before Game 1. It was the top Google result for searches of “World Series,” “MLB” and “baseball” for several days, and it was cited widely even outside the sports world, by NPR, CNN and others.Read more

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Oct. 28, 2022

Best of the Week — First Winner

AP breaks stunning story of child caught in custody battle between Afghan couple, US Marine

The story was nothing short of shocking: An Afghan baby, the only surviving member of her immediate family following an American attack on their home, was brought to the United States for medical treatment only to be taken from the Afghan couple who raised her as their own and — against the couple’s wishes — placed in the custody of a U.S. Marine attorney and his wife.

AP reporters Juliet Linderman, Martha Mendoza and Claire Galofaro broke the competitive story after poring through hundreds of pages of legal filings and documents, talking to Afghan officials and pushing relentlessly for interviews with everyone involved. Then the trio wove their reporting into a beautifully written, compelling narrative that reads like an international thriller. The piece prompted strong reader reaction, with many asking how they could hold the government agencies involved responsible.

For intensive, lightning-fast work to put AP first on this deeply reported, deeply moving story, Linderman, Galofaro and Mendoza earn AP’s Best of the Week — First Winner honors.

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Oct. 21, 2022

Beat of the Week

(Honorable Mention)

Ahead of Social Security increase, AP anticipates reader questions

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

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