Sept. 08, 2016
Beat of the Week
One Syrian family, among 10,000 refugees, settles into US life
for an exclusive, multi-format profile about a family that fled Syria and arrived in San Diego ...
for an exclusive, multi-format profile about a family that fled Syria and arrived in San Diego ...
for exclusively interviewing nine Muslim minority Uighurs about their motives for going to train and fight in Syria. http://bit.ly/2EbBMLD
for finding the families of Russian mercenary fighters killed in fighting in Syria, putting a human face on the cost of Putin’s secret war. http://bit.ly/2CBFVYd
When President Donald Trump tweeted a warning last week about a possible missile strike on Syria, the AP was well ahead in its planning for what would eventually follow.
An AP cross-format team had applied for visas for Damascus a month ago. Last-minute negotiations and a bit of luck led to them being issued two days before air strikes by the U.S., France and Britain..
And when the missiles started raining down, Hassan Ammar, a Beirut-based photographer, captured the signature image of the Damascus night sky. His photo, which dominated world play, earns the Beat of the Week.
The death of the Islamic State group “caliph” Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi was one of the most competitive stories in the world in recent weeks. Journalists scrambled to uncover details of the U.S. operation and how the Islamic State leader ended up in a hideout in Syria.
Beirut-based Middle East reporter Sarah El Deeb put the AP out front with a story based on exclusive interviews recounting al-Baghdadi’s final days, as he was shuttled furtively around Syria by a dwindling circle of confidants.
Enhancing the narrative were dramatic details from a teenage girl who had been enslaved by al-Baghdadi as he sought refuge. El Deeb elicited the previously untold details through sensitive and dogged reporting.
The story stood out from the many accounts that simply echoed the official account of al-Baghdadi’s death, demonstrating not only the AP’s dominance on a global story but also its trusted ability to provide facts-based reporting from the ground in the region.
For outstanding source work and reporting on a story of intense interest, Sarah El Deeb wins AP’s Best of the Week award.
The scene is dreamlike – or, more precisely, nightmarish. The untethered camera swoops and swerves through a depopulated wasteland of rubble and bombed-out buildings and wrecked vehicles.
This is Raqqa, devastated capital of the Islamic State group’s self-proclaimed caliphate. And this extraordinary footage – the Beat of the Week – was brought to viewers around the world by freelance drone videographer Gabriel Chaim. He shares the prize with Mideast photo editor Maya Alleruzzo.
for an exclusive report that U.S. immigration authorities made a last-minute decision to block a 21-year-old Syrian cinematographer from attending the Oscars. http://apne.ws/2mCrqMZ
What AP’s Lori Hinnant knew, from a conversation with Beirut bureau chief Zeina Karam early this year, amounted to a fascinating mystery: A series of Syrian villages had been emptied and many of their people taken hostage by the Islamic State group, but now most appeared to be free. It was clear that ransoms were paid, but no one would talk about how it happened.
The hostages were more than 200 Assyrian Christians who were rescued through a fundraising effort among the vanishing people’s global diaspora that brought in millions of dollars. These were the broad outlines of the story that Hinnant’s months of reporting confirmed, but even better were the exclusive details she unearthed _ including IS sending one villager with a ransom note to his bishop, the church dinners and concerts held around the world for donations, and the decision, fraught with ethical qualms and legal risks, to pay a ransom.
Hinnant’s resulting “thriller,” as one admirer called it, is the Beat of the Week.
spotlighted efforts by international investigators to bring the Islamic State to justice for the slavery and sex trafficking of Iraq’s Yazidi religious minority. The story, which took nearly a year, built on investigators’ documents and El Deeb’s reporting in Iraq and Syria to track down former slaves, owners and those who witnessed the enslavement, all complemented by powerful photos and video of women who had been trafficked.https://bit.ly/2TN6bu9https://bit.ly/2X9imUg
members of AP’s first misinformation beat team focusing on explaining falsehoods, propaganda and conspiracy theories while exposing the creators of this material and their techniques for dissemination. The team launched with two strong international stories – one exposing a propaganda campaign around the Turkish invasion into northern Syria, the other providing a deep look at how tech companies are grappling with the threat of online misinformation ahead of December’s UK election.https://bit.ly/2QnszJAhttps://bit.ly/378Y3sY
The source’s initial tip seemed fairly run-of-the-mill for Baghdad: A late-night rocket attack hit the international airport.
But AP’s Baghdad correspondent Qassim Abdul-Zahra sensed something unusual was afoot. He alerted colleagues and kept digging, teasing out a name that set alarm bells ringing: Qassem Soleimani, Iran’s top general and one of the Middle East’s most powerful protagonists, might have been in the car.
Soon, from three sources, came confirmation that Soleimani was dead. Regional news director Zeina Karam’s AP alert reached our customers well ahead of the competition and triggered a response by teams, across the region and beyond, that would maintain AP’s edge with all-formats coverage astounding in its breadth, speed and insight.
Usage in all formats was off the charts, both by AP customers and on social channels.
For standout work in a competitive tour de force, AP’s Middle East team of Qassim Abdul-Zahra, Zeina Karam, Jon Gambrell, Nasser Karimi, Ahmed Sami and Nasser Nasser share Best of the Week honors.
delivered an exclusive, deeply reported account of how the Department of Justice’s biggest terrorism prosecution in years almost didn't happen. The case involves two alleged Islamic State militants dubbed “The Beatles,” British citizens blamed for the jailing, torture and murder of Western hostages in Syria.Tucker spoke to roughly a dozen current and former U.S. and British officials — many of whom rarely, if ever, grant interviews — as well as relatives of slain hostages. The story broke news in several areas, revealing for the first time how grieving families reached a gradual consensus to take the death penalty off the table, a major sticking point. Tucker also reported the behind-the-scenes involvement of current and former FBI officials who encouraged the families to prod the administration into action, and never-before-seen email correspondence from a senior Justice Department official to one of the victims’ relatives.https://bit.ly/3m1IcCOhttps://bit.ly/37Std99
It's hard to pull off a truly distinctive photo at a set-piece event with the world's press also gathered there. Russia's Chief Photographer Alexander (Sasha) Zemlianichenko, a two-time Pulitzer Prize winner, did just this with a low angle on the big screen of Putin's face, staring down and dominating the audience at Putin's state-of-the nation address March 1. The photo, which graced front pages and websites around the world, wins the Beat of the Week.
Among the many questions raised by President Donald Trump’s surprise executive order targeting predominantly Muslim nations was how his administration arrived at the seven “countries of particular concern.” Take Libya, for example. By making the list, one might think the country was sending waves of refugees pouring into the U.S. Not so, according to data analyzed and packaged on deadline for AP customers by data journalist Meghan Hoyer.
Hoyer’s analysis of federal data in the chaotic days that followed the Trump administration order provided tremendous value for AP customers across the country, allowing them to localize a story of international significance. Hoyer wins this week’s $300 Best of the States award.
As the #MeToo movement spread to state capitols, AP statehouse reporters filed uniform FOIA requests with every legislature seeking information about past sexual misconduct cases and payouts to victims. The coordinated effort, overseen by State Government Team reporter David Lieb, produced some interesting numbers: roughly 70 complaints and nearly $3 million in sexual harassment settlements over the past decade.
But the real story was the information that wasn’t released.
In fact, a majority of states would not disclose records related to sexual misconduct among lawmakers. The most common response was that they had received no such complaints over the past decade, did not keep a record of any such complaints or were not legally bound to disclose the records. But Lieb's research revealed that even states with documented cases of lawmaker sexual harassment were not releasing records about those allegations – and potentially others.
Lieb worked with data editor Meghan Hoyer to organize and analyze the responses from our statehouse reporters in every state. The resulting spreadsheet was distributed to AP bureaus and customers weeks ahead of publication to allow for localizations. AP reporters in 19 states did just that, producing sidebars that in many cases landed on A1.
The mainbar and the state-by-state list of accused lawmakers received wide interest on the APNews app. The story also landed on at least 20 front pages.
For their 50-state accountability project on a topic that continues to rattle state capitols, Lieb and Hoyer win this week’s Best of the States award.
When police reported that al-Shabab extremists had attacked a popular Mogadishu restaurant named Posh Treats in the volatile Horn of Africa country Somalia, many media rushed to tell the world. But Associated Press stringer Abdi Guled was not convinced the report was accurate. His quick calls, including one to an officer at the scene, quickly determined that a place called Pizza House was under assault, not Posh Treats across the street. So while other news organizations had the wrong restaurant, the AP had it right.
This was just the start of Guled’s extraordinary all-night reporting effort. Amid gunfire that left dozens dead, he would put together a riveting story. It’s the Beat of the Week.
A video beat of 15 minutes on a terrorism story in the heart of a European capital? Footage showing militants in Asia actually plotting an attack? On two continents in the same week, Associated Press journalists obtained these exclusives through remarkable ingenuity and persistence.
Their efforts are rare co-winners of the Beat of the Week.
“Who do you believe?”
In the defining moment of the US-Russia summit in Helsinki, President Donald Trump stood side-by-side with Russia's Vladimir Putin and appeared to side with Russian denials when asked whether Moscow meddled in the 2016 election.
The crystal-clear question came from AP White House reporter Jonathan Lemire, who asked Trump to choose between Putin and his own intelligence agencies.
The exchange, and an equally bold couple of questions to Putin, was the capstone of a grueling weeklong reporting effort by Lemire and fellow White House reporter Jill Colvin as they chronicled Trump’s tumultuous travels across Europe. The two, working in cooperation with colleagues in Europe and Russia, delivered smart spot reporting and strong enterprise at every stop on the president’s jaw-dropping trip.
For their exhaustive and highly impactful work, they win Beat of the Week.