Sept. 30, 2022

Best of the Week — First Winner

AP exposes candidate’s lies; upends one of the year’s most competitive congressional races

This AP exclusive started with a tip: A Republican nominee in Ohio had made questionable claims about his tenure in the Air Force.

J.R. Majewski told voters he was a combat veteran with a tour of duty in Afghanistan, but reporters Brian Slodysko and James LaPorta, joined by investigative researcher Randy Herschaft, reported extensively using public documents, expert interviews and a survey of former employers, revealing that among multiple misrepresentations, Majewski did not deploy to Afghanistan but instead spent six-months loading planes in Qatar. He was also demoted and barred from reenlisting.

The story was a hit with readers and had rival news outlets citing AP’s exclusive, while the Republican Party pulled its advertising money from Majewski, essentially giving up on his race.

For deep source work and dogged reporting that exposed a political candidate’s blatant lies about his record, Slodysko, LaPorta and Herschaft take AP’s Best of the Week — First Winner honors.

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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. 16, 2022

Best of the Week — First Winner

AP spotlights remarkable rise of federal prison official accused of misconduct

Mike Balsamo in Washington and Mike Sisak in New York trained a lens on a single Bureau of Prisons official, Thomas Ray Hinkle, who received promotions across four decades despite repeated allegations of abuse, misconduct and even admissions by him that he’d beaten inmates in the past as part of a gang of guards called “The Cowboys.”

After being tipped earlier this year to Hinkle’s past, Sisak and Balsamo went about securing and scrutinizing 1,600 pages of documents that provided details of the allegations and developed key sources within the prisons system who corroborated the accusations. Finally, toward the end of the reporting process, they secured comment from Hinkle and the bureau, both of which acknowledged his previous excesses but said he was a changed man.

For a dogged and impactful investigation that caps a year in which their reporting has shaken the hierarchy of the federal prison systems and forced officials to confront abuses long out of public view, Balsamo and Sisak are Best of the Week 1st Winners.

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Nov. 04, 2022

Beat of the Week

(Honorable Mention)

AP reveals lawsuits setting up midterm election challenges

captured the surprising extent of pre-election lawsuits — more than 100 filed around the country, largely by Republicans — as the legal action lays the groundwork for challenges to midterm election results. The suits target rules for mail-in voting, early voting, voter access and registration, and more.White House reporter Long identified the broader trend and also uncovered an entirely unreported GOP strategy of approaching the midterms with thousands of volunteers and lawyers hired across the nation. Her assessment: The legal actions likely preview a contentious post-election period.Read more

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Oct. 28, 2022

Beat of the Week

(Honorable Mention)

International team examines trade in saltwater aquarium fish

produced a unique two-part series about how and why aquarium fish are captured and transported around the world. Like many good stories, this package had multiple layers, some of them dark.AP’s team in Indonesia went on a dive with a fisherman and visited breeding operations in Bali, and met with middlemen at a warehouse in Jakarta. They reported how fish are illegally caught using cyanide; it weakens the fish but also kills many while destroying the reefs they inhabit.In the U.S., the team spent months persuading U.S. Fish and Wildlife officials to agree to an on-camera interview. The journalists faced similar issues getting pet stores and enthusiasts to talk about such a sensitive topic. The second story, about captive breeding, presented its own challenges, mainly because the tricks and techniques of captive breeding are such closely held secrets.After months of newsgathering and editing by AP journalists, the team had it all, delivering a deeply reported package stocked with vivid photos and video.Read more

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Oct. 21, 2022

Beat of the Week

(Honorable Mention)

Standout coverage as Russia expands attacks on Ukraine

delivered competitive all-formats coverage of Russian attacks on at least 10 Ukrainian cities, two days after an explosion on the Kerch Bridge between Crimea and Russia disrupted an important Russian supply line.From Kyiv, Zaporizhzhia and Dnipro, AP responded with strong reporting and striking visuals supplemented by user-generated content. AP‘s photos and videos led major news websites.Read more

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Oct. 14, 2022

Beat of the Week

(Honorable Mention)

AP reports real-world impact of gerrymandering; SCOTUS hears case

teamed up on a timely package examining racial gerrymandering and how it disenfranchises thousands of Black voters in Alabama.With the U.S. Supreme Court hearing arguments in a case challenging the state’s Republican-drawn maps, and redistricting likely to factor into the 2022 midterm elections, AP journalists used on-the ground reporting, data analysis and experience at the high court to shine a light on the consequences of Alabama’s highly gerrymandered districts.The result was a timely all-formats package on how the cynical practice has largely robbed Black residents in Alabama of their political voice.Read more

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Oct. 14, 2022

Beat of the Week

(Honorable Mention)

Story of town employee who reduced fluoride in water goes national

teamed up on a story examining the controversy over a Vermont town employee who secretively reduced the fluoride in the town’s water supply for years.Rathke reported from the town’s water commission meeting and the trio fleshed out the story with background and context on the health benefits of fluoride and some of the persistent misinformation around it.The final story — among the most-viewed on AP News last week — used the small-town flare-up to tap into the larger interest in fluoride and offered yet another example of how misinformation is impacting even at a local level. It was also a textbook example of elevating a local story to one of interest nationally.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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Aug. 26, 2022

Beat of the Week

(Honorable Mention)

AP Exclusive: Wind energy, golden eagles collide in US West

collaborated on an exclusive all-formats package that revealed how the booming development of clean energy from wind turbines threatens the preservation of iconic golden eagles in the U.S. West. Brown, a veteran environmental reporter, used sourcing, records searches and interviews, finding scientists concerned that collisions with turbine blades could lead to decline of golden eagle populations which thrive on the same open, windy landscapes preferred by wind energy developers.To document the plight of the birds and efforts to preserve them, Brown and video journalist Tobin traveled to remote northern Wyoming, where scientists rappelled down rock faces in their study of the eagles, producing strong visuals to accompany the engaging and deeply reported text story.Read more

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Sept. 16, 2022

Beat of the Week

(Honorable Mention)

AP finds deep support for election lies among GOP candidates

worked with statehouse reporters across the U.S. to highlight just how many election deniers are seeking statewide offices that play a role in overseeing, certifying or defending elections.Democracy team reporter Riccardi and his colleagues found nearly one in three Republicans running for governor, secretary of state or attorney general have echoed former President Donald Trump’s lies about widespread fraud costing him reelection, according to the AP review. Only 40% would acknowledge that Joe Biden was legitimately elected president.Graphic artist Duckett formatted the data for a series of interactives embedded in the story, which made headlines and found an audience even while much of the media was focused on the death of Queen Elizabeth II.Read more

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Sept. 16, 2022

Beat of the Week

(Honorable Mention)

AP/‘Frontline’: Michael Flynn building Christian nationalist movement

teamed up with PBS “Frontline” on a deeply reported all-formats investigative package revealing how retired lieutenant general and former national security adviser Michael Flynn has used public appearances, endorsements and a network of well-funded groups to build a movement centered on Christian nationalist ideas.Smith spoke with more than 60 people, from Flynn’s family and friends to his opponents, examined dozens of Flynn’s speeches, interviews and other appearances, reviewed campaign finance records, corporate and charity filings, social media posts, as well as attending Flynn events. She also landed a rare interview with the retired three-star general — the footage edited by AP investigative video journalist Roosblad — and spent two days reporting on the ReAwaken America tour in upstate New York, along with photographer Kaster and a “Frontline” crew.The joint AP/“Frontline” reporting found Flynn deliberately and systematically driving a far-right political narrative with the goal of influencing elections this year and beyond.Read more

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Sept. 09, 2022

Beat of the Week

(Honorable Mention)

Sweeping coverage, exclusives mark Gorbachev’s death

delivered comprehensive coverage following Mikhail Gorbachev’s death, culminating in agency-exclusive images of the last Soviet leader’s funeral.Quick work late Tuesday night meant AP was one of the first international news organizations to break the news. That was closely followed by an in-depth obituary, photo and video retrospectives, and heavily used live video from Moscow. In the days leading up to the funeral, AP produced solid spot and enterprise offering, ranging from an analysis of how events set in motion by Gorbachev led in part to the current war in Ukraine to a distinctive piece recounting AP staffers’ experiences of covering “Gorby.”Capping the week was exclusive international agency footage of Gorbachev’s burial, the access resulting from the AP team’s determination to overcome official refusals.Read more

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Sept. 09, 2022

Beat of the Week

(Honorable Mention)

AP investigation: Police can track your phone with ‘Fog’ tech tool

delivered an all-formats package revealing a startling truth: U.S. law enforcement agencies have used a smartphone tracking tool called “Fog Reveal” — made by a company that has no website or public information — to track people’s movements going back months, if not years, sometimes without search warrants.A tip to AP early this year launched the in-depth investigation of Fog Data Science, a company whose marketing materials said it drew from data generated by thousands of popular apps. Police have used the company’s Fog Reveal to search hundreds of billions of records from some 250 million mobile devices, according to documents reviewed by AP.The exclusive package, with an engaging presentation of illustrations, video and photos, attracted a global audience online, in broadcast and in print.Read more

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Sept. 09, 2022

Beat of the Week

(Honorable Mention)

Source work breaks news of surge in US military sexual assault

tapped into her deep network of Pentagon sources to score a major scoop a full day ahead of the official announcement: Sexual assaults in the military had increased by 13% last year, largely driven by a 26% surge of reported sexual assaults in the Army.Few reporters have broken as many stories on issues affecting the lives of U.S. service members as Baldor, AP’s longtime military affairs reporter. She had been working sources for weeks before the official report on sexual assault, and knew the Army numbers would be bad. Then a source came through with all 26 pages of the Pentagon talking points, giving her virtually everything she needed to break the story. Many news organizations used Baldor’s story or had to cite AP’s reporting in their own reporting.Read more

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Sept. 02, 2022

Best of the Week — First Winner

Months of prep, source work propel AP to dominance on student loan forgiveness

How President Joe Biden would deliver on his campaign promise to forgive student loan debt was one of the most closely watched decisions coming out of the White House this summer.

As anticipation built, and other news organizations couched their reporting in terms of what Biden was “expected to” announce, AP’s Washington bureau worked sources to deliver a massive scoop, confirming and reporting the details 16 hours before Biden stood in front of the cameras.

What followed was no less impressive: All nine of AP’s stories, breaking and enterprise, centered on real people, with on-camera reaction from borrowers, as well as a Q&A updated by search trends, an engaging Instagram reel, a Twitter Spaces session and more. In all, AP’s coverage pulled in 1.1 million views on AP News and 1.2 million interactions on Facebook. For preparation and determined reporting that produced a major scoop, deep coverage and resourceful engagement on an issue affecting millions of Americans, AP is delighted to honor the team of Seung Min Kim, Zeke Miller, Chris Megerian, Michael Balsamo, Collin Binkley, Bianca Vázquez Toness, Adriana Morga, Cora Lewis and Alex Connor as Best of the Week — First Winner.

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Aug. 26, 2022

Beat of the Week

(Honorable Mention)

Olympic gold medalist trusts AP with news of transition to male

made the AP one of only two news organizations trusted to interview and break the news of Ellia Green, a star on Australia’s 2016 gold medal-winning women’s sevens team, who has become rugby’s highest-profile player to transition to male. And AP was the only news outlet to get photos of Green and his family before the story went public.Trust established with the LGBTQ community over years by Sydney-based sports journalists Passa and Pye, and rapport built with Green, helped overcome his initial resistance to an interview and photographs. The resulting story, further elevated by Baker’s photos, won virtually all the play in Australia, appeared on major news sites in North America and Europe, and led sports coverage on AP’s own platforms.Read more

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Aug. 26, 2022

Beat of the Week

(Honorable Mention)

Exclusive on royal charity examines climate-conscious investing

delivered an exclusive on the Royal Foundation, revealing that the conservation charity founded by Prince William, an outspoken environmental advocate, keeps its investments in a bank that is a major backer of fossil fuels. And more than half its investments are in a “green” fund that owns shares in multinational food companies that buy palm oil from companies linked to deforestation.Based on a tip, Davey spent months poring over the charity’s public filings. The London-based climate accountability reporter also interviewed experts on environmentally responsible investing, connected the foundation’s investments to cases of deforestation and sought comment from all the principals, ensuring that any critique of the Royal Foundation’s investment practices would be fair and accurate.No news organization came close on the widely played story — others either used the AP piece or cited AP in their own reporting.Read more

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Aug. 26, 2022

Best of the Week — First Winner

AP’s global ‘Sacred Rivers’ series explores hallowed waterways and cultures under threat

Over the course of several months, more than 30 AP staffers across five continents teamed up to execute the illuminating and alarming six-part Sacred Rivers series. The ambitious project leveraged all-formats skills to tell lyrical stories, each with compelling images and presentation, engaging audiences with the intersection of spirituality, religion, Indigenous culture, business practices, energy, environmental degradation — even geopolitical conflicts.

The series resonated with AP’s readers and customers worldwide.

For an enterprising, inspiring and unmatched creative collaboration that showcased AP journalism at its best, the Sacred Rivers project team is AP’s Best of the Week — First Winner.

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