March 31, 2023

Best of the Week — First Winner

Years of source work in Texas leads to power narrative enterprise story

Jake Bleiberg spent years reporting on Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton, including an investigation in September into the dropped cases. That story caught the attention of Irma Reyes, a South Texas mother, who reached out to Bleiberg to say that something similar was probably about to happen in the cases of two men charged with sex trafficking her daughter. Bleiberg checked sources and records and then headed to court, where he and Eric Gay witnessed Reyes’s worst fears come to pass.    

The resulting story became the most engaged story of the week on APNews. It also received extensive play across Texas and national media outlets, and won praise from elected officials critical of Paxton, as well as from prosecutors, and even a lawyer for one of the men accused in the case.    

For their compelling all-formats narrative story that put a human face on the dysfunction in Texas that led prosecutors to drop human trafficking and child sexual abuse cases, writer Jake Bleiberg, photographer Eric Gay and video journalist Lekan Oyekanmi are the first winners of this week’s Best of the Week award. 

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Feb. 03, 2023

Best of the Week — First Winner

AP scores exclusive interview with Pope Francis, making news worldwide with a papal call to decriminalize homosexuality

Vatican Correspondent Nicole Winfield's tenacious reporting has already delivered numerous exclusives over a two-decade career covering three popes. Yet an on-camera, sit-down interview with a pontiff had eluded the AP.

That changed dramatically Jan. 24. After years of lobbying, the pope sat down for an historic interview with Winfield, whom Francis has for years called the “prima della classe,” or “first in class,” as a sign of respect for her tough but fair reporting on his pontificate. In fact, during the interview, he mentioned how Winfield’s questions about sex abuse during a 2018 airborne press conference led to his “conversion” moment when he realized that Chilean bishops had been covering up cases of abuse for decades.

For weeks, Winfield prepared the interview with Rome Senior Producer Maria Grazia Murru, who for decades has led the Vatican video operations. They coordinated every detail and prepared the right questions and approach for the interview. Murru designed the video coverage plan and spearheaded the production of social media promotion material. And together, they wrote letters in the most formal Italian to Francis’ private secretaries, until a date was finally arranged — for late January, a time that seemed ripe to make news. It was one week ahead of his planned trip to Africa and just over a month ahead of the 10th anniversary of his pontificate.

Video’s Paolo Santalucia and Photos’ Domenico Stinellis planned the lighting at the venue and sorted out technical details, and photographer Andrew Medichini’s images captured the historic event. Spanish language editor Cristina Fuentes-Cantillana transcribed and translated the full interview, conducted in the pope’s native Spanish.

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Jan. 27, 2023

Beat of the Week

(Honorable Mention)

Confidential document reveals key human role in gunshot-detection technology

broke the news that gunshot-detection company ShotSpotter gives its human reviewers broad discretion to overrule an artificial intelligence-powered law enforcement tool’s determination about whether something is a gunshot. The exclusive came after Burke, an investigative reporter in San Francisco, obtained a confidential ShotSpotter document. The document provided a unique window into the company whose data is sent to police and used in criminal cases nationwide.Read more.

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Jan. 27, 2023

Beat of the Week

(Honorable Mention)

Dedication to the #MeToo beat leads to exclusive on dissolution of Time’s Up

was approached with the exclusive that the anti-harassment organization, Time’s Up, was folding. The New York-based entertainment writer’s story was uniquely authoritative thanks to her years of diligent reporting on the #MeToo movement that landed her the scoop.

The remaining resources of the organization, which became beset by scandals, are going to a legal defense fund administered by the separate National Women’s Law Center.Read more.

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Jan. 06, 2023

Best of the Week — First Winner

Police seize on COVID-19 tech to expand surveillance

An AP team of journalists around the globe disclosed that governments worldwide used the COVID-19 pandemic to build tools and collect data to help curtail the virus, but those tools and data are being repurposed for surveillance by police and intelligence services.

Fresh off a fellowship studying artificial intelligence at Stanford University, reporter Garance Burke returned to AP’s investigative team with an idea for a gripping global project: Could AP staff track how policing worldwide had changed since the pandemic began?

More than a year later, Burke and the cross-format, cross-border team she led produced a sweeping investigation revealing how law enforcement across the globe mobilized new mass surveillance tools during the pandemic for purposes entirely unrelated to COVID-19.

For using Burke’s newfound knowledge and keen interest in AI to bring forth a disturbing story on surveillance and policing with global ramifications, the team of Burke, Federman, Jain, Wu, McGuirk and Myers, supported by numerous other colleagues across the AP, share Best of the Week – First Winner.

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Dec. 23, 2022

Beat of the Week

(Honorable Mention)

AP's Winfield holds Pope Francis’ Jesuit order to account by challenging superior to tell truth

held Pope Francis’ Jesuit order to account by challenging the superior general to come clean with the truth about a famous Jesuit artist accused of sexual and spiritual abuse of women under his care. The superior’s admission to Winfield – during a Christmas reception-turned-press conference – made headlines, and Winfield and AP were credited widely with having forced the Jesuits to answer uncomfortable questions and essentially admit they had lied. Read more.

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Sept. 30, 2022

Beat of the Week

(Honorable Mention)

AP: Families, advocates want more say in $40B opioid settlements

teamed up to tally total opioid settlements in the U.S., then used the onset of that spending to anchor a story around families and others seeking a voice in how the money is used.State government reporter Mulvihill worked with data reporter Harjai to arrive at total settlements — proposed and finalized — of more than $40 billion so far, breaking it down by state. Mulvihill and Ohio reporter Hendrickson then sensitively interviewed advocates and affected loved ones on the front lines of loss, delivering a forward-looking story on how the settlement money might be spent and who gets a say in those decisions.Read more

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Nov. 11, 2022

Beat of the Week

(Honorable Mention)

AP reveals early-voting errors in redrawn Tennessee districts

broke the news: After redistricting, hundreds of early voters in Nashville, Tennessee, were sent to the wrong congressional districts, jeopardizing election integrity. The first sign of trouble came when Kruesi was given conflicting information from state and local election officials about where she was supposed to vote, after Republicans redistricted the left-leaning city in hopes of flipping a Democratic seat.Nashville writers Kruesi and Matisse started reporting on the mixup and alerted election officials, who scrambled to fix the problem while confirming that more than 430 votes were cast in error; a lawsuit prompted by AP’s reporting said the number could ultimately reach into the thousands.Read more

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Nov. 04, 2022

Beat of the Week

(Honorable Mention)

AP finds angle into #MeToo scandal of French TV star

used determination and ingenuity to make AP the first international news organization reporting on alleged sexual misconduct by France’s most famous TV anchor.The anchor, Patrick Poivre d'Arvor, has previously sued the women accusing him of rape, sexual abuse or harassment occurring from 1981 to 2018. He has also sued media reporting on the alleged misconduct, but when one of d’Arvor’s accusers wrote a book investigating multiple allegations, AP seized on the opportunity to interview the author and others, bringing the “affaire PPDA” to light and potentially marking a turning point in the French #MeToo era.Read more

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Nov. 04, 2022

Beat of the Week

(Honorable Mention)

AP/‘Frontline’ investigation: Russian brutality was strategic

of the AP teamed up with PBS “Frontline” on a joint investigation showing that the much-reported Russian violence against civilians in and around Bucha, Ukraine, was not carried out by rogue soldiers. Rather, it was strategic and organized brutality, perpetrated in areas under tight Russian control and where military officers — including a prominent general — were present.For a pair of stories, AP and “Frontline” interviewed dozens of witnesses and survivors, reviewed audio intercepts and surveillance camera footage, and obtained Russian battle plans.One of Kinetz’s stories tied the violence to Russian Col. Gen. Alexander Chaiko, who was in command. The other shows the wrenching impact of the Russian terror campaign on one woman who lost the man she called her “big, big love.”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. 28, 2022

Beat of the Week

(Honorable Mention)

AP: Proposal to hide import data would shield labor abuses

broke the story of a proposal backed by leading U.S. corporations to hide key import data — data vitally important to researchers and investigative journalists seeking to hold corporations accountable for the mistreatment of workers in their overseas supply chains. A tip from an industry source brought Goodman’s attention to a group of 20 major companies seeking to keep vessel manifests, and thus sourcing, confidential.AP published Goodman’s scoop as the corporate group pitched its proposal behind closed doors in Washington. The piece prompted an outcry from members of Congress and groups advocating for responsible sourcing and greater transparency in global supply chains.Read more

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Oct. 14, 2022

Beat of the Week

(Honorable Mention)

Joint reporting reveals hidden suspensions of students with disablities

set out to document ways students with disabilities are excluded from the classroom — and from learning. Their reporting led to advocates who described working with families whose children were essentially kept out of school, with none of the records that come with formal suspensions. The families claimed their schools couldn’t or wouldn’t accommodate their students’ disabilities — a violation of federal law — and said the practice had gotten worse during the pandemic.Ma, race and ethnicity reporter in Washington, partnered with Kolodner, of the nonprofit Hechinger Report, who had been pursuing the same topic. Together, they interviewed 20 families in 10 states, and a top Department of Education official. Read more

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Oct. 07, 2022

Beat of the Week

(Honorable Mention)

AP: Churches defend clergy loophole on child sex abuse reporting

joined forces to reveal how religious lobbying across the U.S. has protected a loophole that exempts clergy from reporting child abuse if the abuse is revealed in a spiritual setting. The subject had surfaced in Rezendes’ August investigation into the mishandling and coverup of child sex abuse cases by the Mormon church.The investigative reporters found similar dynamics playing out in all 33 states that have the loophole: The Catholic and Mormon churches, and the Jehovah’s Witnesses successfully defeated more than 130 bills seeking to create or amend child sex abuse reporting laws.AP’s reporting brought attention to the loophole and prompted at least one state lawmaker to say he would introduce a bill to close the exemption.Read more

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Oct. 07, 2022

Beat of the Week

(Honorable Mention)

AP investigation finds dysfunction in Texas AG’s office

uncovered evidence of deep dysfunction inside Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton’s office, including criminal cases dropped and seasoned lawyers quitting over practices they say aim to slant legal work, reward loyalists and drum out dissent.The investigation by Dallas-based Bleiberg, based on hundreds of pages of public and confidential records, data analysis and interviews with more than two dozen current and former employees, found numerous examples of an agency in disarray, including efforts to turn cases to political advantage, staff vacancies ballooning and, last month, a series of human trafficking and child sexual assault cases dropped after losing track of one of the victims.Read more

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Sept. 30, 2022

Beat of the Week

(Honorable Mention)

Only on AP: Probe finds evidence of bank boss’s romance with top aide

exclusively reported details of an internal investigation finding that a former Trump official, president of Latin America’s biggest development bank, had an inappropriate romantic relationship with his chief of staff — a scoop followed hours later by the bank directors’ vote to recommend firing the executive.Latin America correspondent Goodman had been reporting for months on the anonymous allegations surrounding Inter-American Development Bank President Mauricio Claver-Carone. He was not alone; other major news organizations were chasing the story too. But Goodman broke the news when he obtained a law firm’s report with evidence of the relationship, including a photo of a restaurant place mat on which the couple purportedly outlined a “contract” and a timeline for divorcing their spouses and getting married.Read more

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