July 16, 2021

Beat of the Week

(Honorable Mention)

AP: Myanmar military, police declare war on medics

continued AP’s dominant coverage of Myanmar’s unrest, this time revealing how Myanmar security forces were deliberately and systematically attacking medics in the middle of the pandemic. In an extremely difficult story to report, the AP team was able to track down health workers who were in hiding and carefully contacted them using encrypted apps.One interviewee spoke of a newborn in the embattled town of Mindat who had died due to suspected pneumonia because his parents could not find a doctor. Going on scant information, AP finally broke that story open thanks to a tweet by someone in Myanmar referencing the baby's death that included the parents' names. Stringers then overcame bad communications, an adversarial military and monsoon season to locate the parents of the dead child in a refugee camp. The resulting story by Sydney-based Gelineau and Jakarta-based Milko was one of heartbreak and sensitivity with disturbing but compelling video produced by multiformat journalist Allen Breed, including medics being beaten by police, and photos that laid out how, despite the brutality, the health care workers continued trying to save lives.Physicians for Human Rights called it an ”amazing piece,” and the “deepest dive” so far into the attack on doctors in Myanmar. It was shared on Twitter by prominent human rights advocates and called a “gripping and important investigation” and a “devastating investigative report.”https://aplink.news/o02https://aplink.video/i3n

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Aug. 06, 2021

Beat of the Week

(Honorable Mention)

AP delivers standout all-formats coverage of Simone Biles narrative

gave AP exclusive glimpses into the saga that led gymnast Simone Biles to drop out of most of her events.During the first week of the Olympics, sports writer Graves and national writer Clare Galofaro used source work — contacts in Biles' camp, USA Gymnastics and others — to keep AP ahead of nearly every development through eight APNewsAlerts, including Biles’ shocking decision to leave the team gymnastics competition after one vault. AP had exclusive video of Biles at her hotel for several days as the world waited to find out if she would compete again, and had live shots of her moving around Tokyo and even going shopping at a pet store. AP also delivered world-class photography of her in action and on the sidelines cheering for her teammates.Graves, AP’s authority on gymnastics, has built a relationship with Biles that precedes the Rio Games and includes U.S. championships, world championships and one-on-one interviews, giving context to the fast-breaking stories coming out of Tokyo. In May, Biles had opened up in a multiformat interview about the pressures that would eventually move her to pull out of most Tokyo Games competition. Graves also produced a comprehensive explainer on “The Twisties,” the disorientation Biles felt as she was airborne, a story Biles herself liked on Twitter.https://aplink.news/1j6https://aplink.news/ghdhttps://aplink.video/br6

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Aug. 06, 2021

Beat of the Week

(Honorable Mention)

AP reveals threat of abandoned, leaking oil and gas wells in US

teamed up in all-formats to highlight the environmental crisis of an estimated 2 million abandoned oil and gas wells in the United States.Overcoming the reluctance of landowners fearful their property values would decline if they went public, energy and climate reporter Bussewitz found a fourth-generation Texas rancher who described her beloved land as a “swiss cheese of old oil wells that are just falling apart.” Bussewitz shared the byline with national writer and visual journalist Irvine, who shot video of the site where the rancher had moved 600 head of cattle that may have drunk contaminated water, then combined it with drone footage from the ranch, along with historical photos and footage of abandoned wells. Photographer Gay made striking images of that ranch and another where the rancher had to sue the state of Texas to plug orphaned wells.Data analyst Fenn and digital artist Duckett leveraged that data into interactives, including an exclusive nationwide map that depicted the known orphaned wells in each state, and producers Hamlin and Shotzbarger, with photo editor Goodman, built a powerful presentation on AP News.https://aplink.news/nr5https://aplink.video/rwuhttps://interactives.ap.org/em...https://interactives.ap.org/te...

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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 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 30, 2021

Beat of the Week

(Honorable Mention)

AP days ahead with scoop on new chief of Capitol Police

used source work to break news, naming the new chief for the U.S. Capitol Police three days ahead of the official announcement. They were so far out front that a local news station said even the new chief had not been officially told he had the job.The selection of a new head for the beleaguered department had been closely tracked by Washington national and local media in the aftermath of the Jan. 6 insurrection. But AP was well ahead of the competition, started with a source’s late-night tip to Justice Department reporter Tucker that J. Thomas Manger, former chief in Montgomery County, Maryland, was about to be named chief. Tucker shared that tip with Washington colleagues Michael Balsamo, Colleen Long and Mary Clare Jalonick, and the group flooded their sources, getting quiet acknowledgements. The following afternoon a second source confirmed the selection to Tucker, and the team — intimately familiar with the department and the search process — rounded out the story for Monday afternoon’s scoop.Their piece immediately received strong play and AP was cited by other news outlets that had been chasing the story. https://aplink.news/9wb

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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

Best of the Week — First Winner

Dedicated source work produces rare video as Tigray forces retake regional capital

Through months of patient contacts, Nairobi-based senior producer Khaled Kazziha built trust with an Ethiopian freelancer who promised AP first refusal on video and photos he made as events unfolded in the embattled Tigray region. That promise was fulfilled recently with images that included celebrations as Tigrayan forces retook the regional capital Mekele, prisoners of war in detention and an on-camera interview with Tigray's leader, among other rare scenes.

Kazziha had trained the freelancer and knew he was in Mekele when Ethiopian government forces fled Tigray, allowing the region's former leaders, the Tigray People’s Liberation Front, to return. But with communication and transportation blocked, Kazziha had to wait almost two weeks for the footage to reach him. He then worked tirelessly with colleagues in Addis Ababa to cut multiple video packages that have been widely used by AP’s global video clients and platforms.

“This is a reminder that a journalist never knows whose help might prove critically useful in the future, and training and teaching people wherever one goes ... especially in the world’s trouble spots,” said Andy Drake, deputy director of newsgathering for Africa.

For exceptional collaboration and video production work that led to multiple world exclusives, Kazziha and the video freelancer — unnamed for his security — share AP’s Best of the Week award.

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July 16, 2021

Beat of the Week

(Honorable Mention)

AP Exclusive: US leaves Bagram base; Afghans left in the dark

were quick to deliver an all-formats look — and an exclusive — from Bagram Airfield in Afghanistan after the U.S. departure from the base that served for nearly 20 years as the epicenter of America’s war to unseat the Taliban and hunt down al-Qaida.Media around the world were watching for the U.S. withdrawal from Bagram, but Gannon, AP’s Afghanistan/Pakistan news director with decades of hard-won experience in the region, broke news. First, she pressed for access to the base after the U.S. military's July 2 departure. Joined by Kabul-based video journalist Amin and photographer Gul, the trio were granted access on July 5 and arrived to provide a rare glimpse of what had been the largest U.S. military base in the country.But that access was only one element of the story. The new Afghan commander of Bagram was initially reluctant to share details about how he and his troops took control of the base. Gannon told him there had been rumors about looting, and with her persistent questioning, the commander finally shared the full story: U.S. troops left quietly, switched off the lights and never bothered to tell the Afghan military that they were gone. The gap of two hours between the U.S. departure and the arrival of the Afghan military at Bagram enabled looters to sneak into the once heavily guarded base.The story made a splash, with Gannon fielding interview requests from major news outlets to describe what she had seen and heard at Bagram. The Pentagon, facing criticism after Gannon’s story appeared, later said the Afghans had been informed two days in advance of the U.S. intention to leave, but that the precise hour was left secret for security reasons. The team’s all-formats reporting provided an early look at the post-U.S. era in Afghanistan, in a package that was stunning for its detail and news value.https://aplink.news/95ehttps://aplink.video/odbhttps://aplink.video/5bq

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May 28, 2021

Beat of the Week

(Honorable Mention)

All-formats team puts AP ahead on Spain-Morocco migrant crisis

alertly put AP out front of a burgeoning migration crisis on both sides of the Spain-Morocco border.While much of the world focused on the conflict in Gaza, Parra noticed something unusual on May 17: Dozens of migrants had entered Ceuta, Spain, that morning by swimming from Morocco. Usually, migrants seeking to enter Ceuta — in Spanish territory in North Africa — do so by climbing the border fence in small groups, evading the Moroccan security forces that keep would-be migrants away from the frontier. Parra filed a brief story and flagged it to other formats. Additional reporting confirmed something bigger was brewing, with the Moroccan authorities relaxing border security amid a diplomatic dispute. The all-formats team quickly responded, capturing riveting images of migrants swimming ashore by the thousands as Spain deployed troops and armored personnel carriers. Video coverage, both live and edited, showed migrants, including children, being rounded up on the beach and immediately returned to Morocco through a border gate by baton-wielding Spanish soldiers. There were also dramatic photos from the Moroccan side of the border, giving AP comprehensive coverage from both sides of the humanitarian crisis.Play for the story was tremendous. The video edits scored heavily and Armangue’s photos landed on news sites and in newspapers around the world, including in Spain, where the top papers used his photos on the front page two days in a row. His photo of a young migrant hugging a Red Cross volunteer on the beach went viral in social media and became perhaps the most iconic image of the crisis.https://aplink.news/mefhttps://aplink.news/vqihttps://aplink.photos/emahttps://aplink.video/j7whttps://aplink.video/zxuhttps://aplink.news/h8zhttps://aplink.photos/f8x

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July 09, 2021

Beat of the Week

(Honorable Mention)

Resourceful crew stays out front on Surfside collapse coverage

found innovative ways to break news, tell important stories in all formats and stay ahead of the competition as the search for survivors in the Surfside condo collapse stretched into a second week.When the AP team — Florida staffers and out-of-state reinforcements — learned an implosion of the remaining structure was likely looming, they rented a 26-foot scissor lift, fastened a live broadcast unit to it with bungee cords and covered it from incoming weather with a tarp. This work by Bumsted, Ellgren and Lee allowed AP to get a clear view of the eventual implosion and deliver visuals over several news cycles that were picked up by major customers.Meanwhile, AP reporters found compelling narratives, including Kennedy’s story on the last dramatic moments of the collapse as told by people who barely escaped. This piece had a rare engagement score of 100 with a highly unusual average time on page of more than 3 minutes — holding readers’ attention with vivid detail and emotion.Gómez Licón’s story about the sensitive nature of dealing with remains also played widely. And her story about a missing widower was matched by several outlets that cited AP. AP also beat national and local competitors by an hour or more on breaking news of the death toll increasing, thanks to staffers finding a source of official briefings.https://apnews.com/hub/surfsid...https://aplink.news/0p5https://aplink.video/eklhttps://aplink.news/c9fhttps://aplink.news/wtkhttps://aplink.news/hk7

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July 02, 2021

Best of the Week — First Winner

Got guns? Sourcing, data and subject expertise reveal record 300,000 rejected U.S. gun sales

At a time when gun sales in America are reaching record highs and political divisions run deep, Salt Lake City reporter Lindsay Whitehurst has become a recognized authority on shifting weapons laws at the state level. She has cultivated sources on both sides of the issue and earned a reputation as a fair and accurate interpreter of the national schism over guns.

That’s why, after working for months with sources at Everytown for Gun Safety, a major player in the gun control lobby, the nonprofit turned to her with a trove of exclusive records on attempted firearms purchases that were denied by the FBI last year.

Whitehurst dove into the FBI data that showed gun sale rejections at an all-time high. Nearly half of the denials were for convicted felons, at a time when fights for universal background checks continue to fail. And although lying on a firearms background check is a federal offense, Whitehurst also learned that such cases are rarely prosecuted, raising the questionof why — in a volatile America — authorities are not investigating those who try despite being banned.

For probing these questions, and her leadership on a beat that touches on some of the nation’s most fundamental and contentious rights, Whitehurst earns AP’s Best of the Week award.

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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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June 25, 2021

Beat of the Week

(Honorable Mention)

Exceptional planning, execution of summit coverage yields big AP wins

collaborated on sweeping coverage of the Biden-Putin summit that outpaced all the competition.In advance of the summit, AP chased down all the moving parts, staying in touch with local officials and the U.S. mission, clarifying early on where the events would happen and establishing positions.Thanks to that preparation, the truly international video crew delivered outstanding live shots and features, including the summit venue at Parc de La Grange, security, arrivals and departures, reactions of residents and diplomats, protests and impressive shots of the city, among them a continuous live shot from the balcony of Geneva’s Ritz-Carlton from sunrise to sunset. AP offered more live signals and was faster than other outlets, offering more video edits and content than our main competitors.Meanwhile, text reporters from Washington and Moscow combined to put together smart enterprise and preview pieces, then quickly, deftly but firmly shifted to the main event, chronicling the day’s spot developments — a job that required throwing a few shoulders to get through the media scrum and past a Russian security guard for access to the opening photo op of the two leaders seated in a small study. AP managed to pose two questions to Putin that would dominate his post-summit news conference a few hours later: What would he do if Ukraine joined NATO? And why was he so afraid of opposition leader Alexei Navalny? At that, several members of Russian security pushed AP’s reporter from the room.The reporting team in Geneva, working closely with the Washington-based trip desk, filed a running stream of alerts and updates on spot developments, along with sidebars and takeaways on the upshot of the two leaders’ meeting.The photo team, drawing on Moscow, Washington and European staffers, was no less formidable. AP’s initial images of Putin and Biden together were the first to reach our clients, beating the opposition by almost two minutes. Remote photo editing in Washington ensured fast and seamless delivery of images, completing AP’s standout performance across all formats.https://aplink.news/89rhttps://aplink.video/vufhttps://aplink.video/u67

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June 11, 2021

Beat of the Week

(Honorable Mention)

Access to Syrian camp reveals forgotten children left to IS influence

gained rare access to Syria's sprawling al-Hol camp, their work shedding light on tens of thousands of forgotten kids languishing without any real opportunities or education beyond the ideology of the Islamic State group communicated to them by their mothers.In video, photos and text, the story revealed the lives of children at the camp — which houses families of IS and IS sympathizers —and their exposure to the influence of IS, including children waving black IS flags, metal-like swords and gesturing in the form of beheadings. The story received wide play and was cited by Syria experts and academics as evidence of the perils of leaving al-Hol’s kids to their fate, and why foreign countries need to take responsibility for their nationals and repatriate them.https://aplink.news/ar0https://aplink.video/4ze

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June 11, 2021

Best of the Week — First Winner

Daring AP team crosses front lines to report on Ethiopia’s Tigray rebels and war’s civilian victims

Since the conflict in the Tigray region of Ethiopia broke out seven months ago, news coverage has necessarily focused on those who fled the region. And AP journalists have delivered that coverage since November. But few journalists could reach areas under the control of the Tigray People’s Liberation Front, the party of Tigray’s now-fugitive leaders. Access was refused by the Ethiopian military. Until now.

AP’s Kampala, Uganda, correspondent Rodney Muhumuza and the Nairobi, Kenya-based team of Khaled Kazziha, Ben Curtis and Desmond Tiro made it through to the town of Hawzen with determination, teamwork and skill. 

Once there, and knowing the risks, the all-formats team limited themselves to less than an hour in the town, during which they reported exclusively on the TPLF fighters then occupying it. Hours after the journalists left, government troops shelled the town and recaptured it. The team later interviewed displaced victims of the conflict, including child amputees. The resulting multiformat story used the Hawzen as an example of the challenges facing Ethiopian authorities in the region. 

For smart, careful and courageous reporting to become the first outside journalists since the conflict started to interview fighters loyal to the TPLF, Muhumuza, Curtis, Kazziha and Tiro earn AP’s Best of the Week award.

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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 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 Week — First Winner

AP Exclusive: Investigative reporter obtains bodycam video of Ronald Greene’s deadly arrest

When Ronald Greene died in 2019, Louisiana State Police troopers initially blamed the Black man’s death on injuries from a crash at the end of a high-speed chase, then later said Greene became unresponsive in a struggle with troopers and died on his way to the hospital.

For the most part, that was all the public would know about the case, until AP’s Jim Mustian took up the story. Since he began reporting nine months ago, he’s broken a string of stories revealing there was more to the story. But Mustian always knew he needed to get his hands on one crucial piece of evidence: video.

This past week, Mustian did just that. In the most explosive break yet in the case, Mustian obtained body camera footage that showed Greene repeatedly apologizing and pleading for mercy as troopers jolted him with stun guns, put him in a choke hold, punched him and dragged him by his ankle shackles. The story led national newscasts and websites, and fronted newspapers across the country, with credit to AP’s reporting and the video, again and again.

This scoop was the work of one dogged investigative reporter who never stopped believing that the world should know what really happened to Ronald Greene. For that we honor Jim Mustian with AP’s Best of the Week award.

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