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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July 08, 2022

Best of the Week — First Winner

AP Exclusive: Unserved 1955 arrest warrant discovered for woman at center of Emmett Till case

“And I do not say this lightly: Holy shit.” That, from producer and Black List founder Franklin Leonard, sums up the collective reaction to the scoop by AP’s Jay Reeves and Emily Wagster Pettus: Searchers in Mississippi had discovered the nearly 70-year-old unserved warrant for the arrest of Carolyn Bryant Donham, the white woman whose unproven accusation against Emmett Till led to the Black teenager’s lynching, a horror that galvanized the civil rights movement.

Reeves had reported previously that relatives and activists were still seeking the long-lost warrant, and years of source work paid off with a tip: The document had been found in the basement of a Mississippi courthouse. He confirmed it and teamed up with Wagster Pettus, contacting law enforcement officials and legal experts on what the discovery means to the case, which had been considered closed.

The resulting story made waves, scoring heavy play with customers and on AP platforms.For breaking news on one of the country’s most notorious civil rights cases, Reeves and Wagster Pettus share this week’s Best of the Week — First Winner honors.

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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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April 22, 2022

Beat of the Week

(Honorable Mention)

AP: Video shows Lyoya shot in back of head by officer

teamed up with colleagues elsewhere in the country to provide multiformat coverage of the release by Grand Rapids, Michigan, police of video showing the April 4 shooting death of motorist Patrick Lyoya. Video showed Lyoya, a Black man, facing the ground when he was fatally shot in the back of the head by a police officer after a traffic stop, a brief foot chase and struggle over a stun gun.In addition to AP’s spot coverage and video analysis, distinctive enterprise in ensuing days examined a gap in the police officer’s body camera video, an explainer on what prosecutors will use to determine any charges, and how police stops of Black people are often filled with fear and anxiety and can end in deadly use of force.Read more

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Sept. 03, 2021

Beat of the Week

(Honorable Mention)

AP obtains video of Louisiana trooper beating Black man with flashlight

exclusively obtained body camera video kept secret for more than two years showing a Louisiana State Police trooper pummeling a Black motorist 18 times with a flashlight, an attack the trooper defended as “pain compliance.”The dramatic footage of the May 2019 beating of Aaron Larry Bowman — who could be heard wailing between blows, “I’m not resisting! I’m not resisting” — was featured with credit to AP on news broadcasts by all three major U.S. networks and in matcher stories by The New York Times, The Washington Post and CNN. AP’s coverage also included exclusively obtained investigative documents on the case and an emotional all-formats interview with Bowman, conducted just a few weeks earlier, in which he recounted the beating that left him with a broken jaw, broken ribs, a broken wrist and a deep gash in his head.The piece by Mustian and Bleiberg shared a theme with several of the week’s top AP stories: They shed light on issues fundamental to democracy that no one would have known about without the AP. This was just latest in a series of AP exclusives on the Louisiana State Police that began with stunning coverage of the deadly arrest of Ronald Greene by troopers from the same headquarters. Greene’s arrest was kept under wraps before AP obtained video and published it earlier this year. Federal prosecutors are now examining both cases in a widening investigation into police brutality and potential cover-ups involving both troopers and state police brass.This week’s story, accompanied by a video package from Stacey Plaisance and photographs by Rogelio Solis, saw strong play online with 225,000 pageviews on AP News and was AP’s most-engaged story of the week with readers.https://aplink.news/tc9https://aplink.video/acm

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Nov. 26, 2021

Best of the Week — First Winner

Enterprising AP coverage of Rittenhouse trial reaches far beyond the courtroom testimony

AP’s team coverage led the pack for the three-week Kyle Rittenhouse trial — including word of Rittenhouse’s full acquittal in the killing of two protesters and wounding of a third in Kenosha, Wisconsin — thanks to smart, detailed planning and deep knowledge cultivated throughout the proceedings.

The foundation of the coverage was the daily testimony, but following a blueprint laid down during earlier coverage of the Derek Chauvin trial in Minneapolis, it was the spinoff coverage, starting weeks ahead of the trial and carrying through after the verdict, that was key. A multiformat team of journalists delivered more than a dozen AP Explainers, enterprise pieces and video debriefings that went deeper into what was happening in court — and in some cases anticipated developments in the case.

The expansive team coverage figured prominently among AP’s top stories throughout the trial. AP’s explainer on the charges against the teenager remained at the top of Google’s “Rittenhouse” search results, placement that drove some 3.5 million pageviews on AP News before and after the verdict.

For comprehensive, speedy and illuminating coverage of a trial that riveted the country, the Kyle Rittenhouse trial team earns AP’s Best of the Week — First Winner.

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Jan. 21, 2022

Beat of the Week

(Honorable Mention)

Investigation reveals global market for illegal Brazilian gold

teamed up to expose those involved in Brazil's illegal gold trade, from the illicit mining on Indigenous lands to the global market.Mining on Indigenous lands in Brazil is not new. Numerous stories have been done on the practice, detailing the environmental and cultural impact of the illegal gold mining. But the AP investigation went a step further, naming those involved in the practice and tracing how the precious mineral travels from the mines of Brazil to global brands.For their widely read investigative stories, published in English, Spanish and Portuguese, Brazil News Director Biller, Latin America correspondent Goodman and freelance journalist Cowie obtained dozens of documents and conducted interviews with prosecutors, federal law enforcement agents, miners and industry insiders.Cowie and photographer Penner trekked hundreds of miles into the Amazon to report comprehensively on those engaged in the illegal mining and those involved in the illegal gold trade — a cross section of individuals and companies ranging from shady fly-by-night operators to legitimate businesses.Among their findings: Brazil is investigating an air taxi company contracted by the country’s health mionistry that transports Indigenous people and medical equipment. The company is also suspected of using its planes to bring in prospectors and supplies for illegal mining.And a thorough AP review of public records revealed that Marsam, a refinery that provided minerals for Brazil’s 2016 Olympic gold medals and now processes gold ultimately purchased by hundreds of well-known publicly traded U.S. companies — among them Microsoft, Tesla and Amazon — is linked to an intermediary accused by prosecutors of buying gold mined illegally on Indigenous lands and other areas deep in the Amazon rainforest.https://bit.ly/3HWThQDhttps://bit.ly/3qnwc3Nhttps://bit.ly/3FzcFSb

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Sept. 09, 2022

Beat of the Week

(Honorable Mention)

AP Exclusive: US ‘red flag’ laws little-used despite gun violence surge

used exhaustive data gathering and analysis, as well as interviews with experts and authorities across the country, to produce an exclusive, first-ever count that shows U.S. states barely using the much-touted “red flag” laws that give them the power to take guns away from people who threaten to kill. The trend is traced to lack of awareness of the laws and outright resistance by some police to enforce them, even as shootings and gun deaths soar.Condon’s deeply reported story adds data and clarity to the debate over red flag laws, which are promoted as the most powerful tools available to prevent gun violence before it happens. But as the piece shows, such laws are only useful if they are actually enforced.Read more

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Jan. 28, 2022

Beat of the Week

(Honorable Mention)

All-formats team reveals Brazil’s alleged Bitcoin pyramid schemes

traveled to Cabo Frio, a tourist city a couple hours north of Rio de Janeiro which has been wracked with problems and violence following a surge of Bitcoin pyramid schemes. Reporting in all formats, their trip followed Brazil’s federal police bust last April of three people loading a chopper with $1.3 million in neatly packed bills.Brazil-based text stringer Jeantet obtained hundreds of police and prosecutors’ reports regarding the alleged pyramid scheme run by the town’s top dog, Glaidson dos Santos. She sorted through the reports, crafting a gripping narrative of the man's rise to power and fortune, and his eventual imprisonment. But she also discovered the story was more complex, with many of dos Santos’ former clients swearing that he was being wrongly accused for having the audacity to beat a rigged financial system at its own game.Such nuance gave the reader an inside look at why Bitcoin has become hugely popular in Brazil. Senior cameraman Lobão delivered video footage produced by Tatiana Pollastri, and photo freelancer Prado made the stills. The text story was published in English, Spanish and Portuguese, picked up by publications from USA Today to The Times of India.https://aplink.news/j5xhttps://aplink.video/5s2

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