Nov. 17, 2017

Best of the States

AP Exclusive: Minnesota widow meets man who received her husband’s face via transplant

When a Minnesota woman was preparing to meet the man who received her dead husband’s face in a transplant operation, the hospital that performed the surgery – the Mayo Clinic – immediately recommended that The Associated Press be the news organization to tell their story.

In early 2016 AP national writer Sharon Cohen, video journalist Teresa Crawford and photographer Charlie Neibergall had been first with the tale of Andy Sandness and Calen “Rudy” Ross. The AP team's sensitive portrayal of two men who had each attempted suicide, with the one who lived (Sandness) ultimately receiving the face of the one who did not (Ross), had been well-regarded by Sandness and by Ross’ widow, Lilly.

In the months following, Mayo was besieged with requests from news outlets to cover the first meeting between Andy and Lilly, but when the pair began making plans to meet in fall 2017, they wanted only AP in the room.

For their exclusive coverage of that poignant meeting, Crawford, Neibergall and correspondent Kyle Potter win this week’s Best of the States award.

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May 08, 2020

Beat of the Week

(Honorable Mention)

AP analysis finds most states falling short on virus testing

analyzed data showing that most states are not meeting the minimum level of coronavirus testing suggested by the U.S. government. In the absence of comprehensive federal data, AP calculated the monthly testing rate for each state, along with a separate review by AP state reporters, to find that only 40% of states currently meet the Trump administration’s testing threshold. Those that don’t include several that have been moving quickly to reopen their economies. And some states with infection hot spots are not testing at a higher rate recommended by Harvard University. https://bit.ly/3fpF7ud

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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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Sept. 11, 2020

Beat of the Week

(Honorable Mention)

Breaking news from NBA’s suspended playoffs

teamed up to break news from the NBA’s “Disney bubble” as teams suspended play over racial justice issues. Reynolds got the only on-the-record interview with an executive board member of the National Basketball Players Association, speaking with Andre Iguodala on the day that players decided that they would remain isolated at Walt Disney World and continue the postseason despite the protests.

The interview followed Reynolds’ scoop that the NBA’s owners had called an emergency meeting and that a three-hour meeting between players and coaches led to no consensus on how to go forward. The interview with Iguodala, and supplemental reporting by his colleague Mahoney, led to AP being able to break the news that teams would resume practice Friday and playing games Saturday.https://bit.ly/2Zsl7R7https://bit.ly/33fyFk6https://bit.ly/2RjPqVvhttps://bit.ly/3bJ5XvI

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Dec. 13, 2019

Beat of the Week

(Honorable Mention)

AP story on children of priests leads brothers to find each other

for reuniting two half-brothers and documenting their meeting with riveting coverage in all formats. After AP reported that the Vatican was investigating a Kenyan man’s claim that his father was an Italian missionary priest, another man came forward to say he was the son of the same priest. AP sponsored genetic testing that confirmed their suspicions.https://bit.ly/2PExu70https://bit.ly/2YIwVNz

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Sept. 21, 2018

Best of the States

Abuse scandal hits Texas diocese as cardinal meets with pope

Houston-based reporter Nomaan Merchant broke important news about the role of an influential American cardinal in an abuse scandal in his home diocese, just as the cardinal was meeting with Pope Francis to discuss reforms to address clergy abuse.

Merchant exclusively tracked down two accusers who allege a priest in the Houston archdiocese had abused them – and that church leaders, including Cardinal Daniel DiNardo, subsequently did little to nothing to keep him out of the ministry and away from children.

The allegations were significant on their own given the current abuse crisis roiling the Catholic church. But they were made even more newsworthy in that they implicated DiNardo just as he met with the pope to discuss the church’s handling of sex abuse cases. The accusers said they personally complained to DiNardo about the priest and believed they were brushed off.

Merchant's reporting made an immediate splash in Houston-area media and religion news sources. It was also the talk of the Vatican gathering in Rome.

For his efforts, Merchant wins this week's Best of States.

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Sept. 03, 2021

Beat of the Week

(Honorable Mention)

Only on AP: US veteran determined not to lose Afghan colleague

spent months building a relationship with U.S. Army veteran Spencer Sullivan and his Afghan translator Abdulhaq Sodais, leading to exclusive video and photos of them meeting in Germany and a layered, all-formats story on Sullivan’s battle to keep America’s promise to bring his comrade to safety.After his first translator was killed by the Taliban while waiting for a U.S. visa, Sullivan felt the U.S. had betrayed its promise to help those who risked their lives interpreting for American troops. Sullivan was determined not to let Sodais, who used smugglers to get to Europe and feared being sent back to Afghanistan, suffer the same fate. The situation took on urgency as the Taliban seized control and the U.S. withdrew from Afghanistan.Sullivan flew from Virginia to Germany to help Sodais prepare for his Sept. 6 asylum hearing. At that point, the global footprint of AP paved the way for a good story to become great: Rome video journalist Andrea Rosa and Amsterdam photographer Peter Dejong met the pair in Germany and shot moving photos and video of the men together, with Sullivan trying to assure a terrified Sodais that he would be OK.Watson, based in San Diego, wove that reporting into the text story, producing a detailed picture of the relationship between the two. The result was a rich, layered multiformat package that took people on a journey through one soldier’s attempt to make a small difference in the middle of a chaotic situation, all too aware of the price if he fails.https://aplink.news/xxfhttps://aplink.video/k33

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Nov. 19, 2021

Beat of the Week

(Honorable Mention)

Sourcing, expertise deliver latest scoop on Venezuela corruption case

used strong sourcing, along with prep work and his deep knowledge of the federal court system, to snag a court filing before a judge ordered it redacted, giving Goodman his second major scoop in as many weeks in the case of a top U.S. corruption target from Venezuela.Latin America correspondent Goodman has spent years painstakingly covering the shady dealings between Alex Saab and Venezuela’s socialist government. But when the Colombian-born businessman was finally extradited to Miami last month, media interest surged, with 300 journalists attending his first court appearance.Goodman, the must-read reporter on corruption in Venezuela, beat all the competition with a major discovery: Saab, who has repeatedly sworn loyalty to President Nicolás Maduro, had been betraying the Venezuelan government for years in secret meetings with U.S. law enforcement. Goodman had previously heard about the meetings from off-the-record sources, but here they were described in a court record that gave him cover to publish. Only Goodman, an ace on the labyrinthine federal courts record system, knew what to look for and could find it before a federal judge removed the document from the docket. Other news organizations were left scrambling to match the AP story.This latest scoop followed Goodman’s recent reporting that Maduro’s government had quietly offered to swap six imprisoned American oil executives for Saab in a secret Mexico City meeting with a Trump administration envoy and controversial Blackwater founder Erik Prince. https://aplink.news/rix

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Aug. 21, 2020

Best of the States

Inside the reopening debate: Local school boards face ‘impossible’ decisions

With school districts nationwide wrestling with tough decisions on reopening amid the pandemic, South Carolina reporter Jeffrey Collins wanted to show that process at work.

When several districts rebuffed his efforts at behind-the-scene access, Collins took another approach. He started reporting by watching a school board’s meetings online, taking voluminous notes. Demonstrating a thorough understanding of what the district was facing, he was finally granted in-person access to the district’s meetings and discussions for a revealing all-formats package. 

For finding a way to delve into a local school board’s deliberations, and providing insight into conversations happening nationally, Collins wins this week’s Best of the States award.

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