May 14, 2021

Best of the Week — First Winner

Resolute AP crew in Chad, where not a single shot has been administered, highlights vaccine inequity

In Chad to cover the sudden death of the country’s longtime president, the AP team of West Africa Bureau Chief Krista Larson, Nigeria-based video journalist Lekan Oyekanmi and photographer Sunday Alamba decided to look at the COVID situation in a country that has yet to administer its first shot. Political unrest made the assignment far more challenging, with police on the hunt for journalists. Alamba and Oyekanmi had already been detained for eight hours and warned not to venture out into the street again.

After days of prodding, the team was granted just a brief interview with medical staff in a hospital conference room. But the all-formats crew pressed the case to see the COVID ward for themselves, eventually winning access. Accounts of bravery and deprivation among overwhelmed medical staff, and the images shot by Alamba and Oyekanmi, speak volumes, highlighting a deep global inequity despite promises by wealthy nations to help vaccinate the world.

For intrepid coverage in the harshest of reporting environments, Larson, Alamba and Oyekanmi win AP’s Best of the Week award.

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July 22, 2022

Beat of the Week

(Honorable Mention)

AP investigation reveals childhood vaccine crisis in Venezuela

produced a distinctive, exclusive investigative story using data analysis and deep reporting to reveal that many Venezuelan children lack access to essential vaccines, putting the country among the world’s worst for inoculating children against potentially fatal diseases and leaving neighboring countries vulnerable to outbreaks.Data on vaccination rates is elusive in Venezuela, where institutions are shrouded in secrecy, corruption and bureaucracy. The country hasn’t published rates since 2015. But Garcia Cano, Caracas-based Andes correspondent, obtained rare government data from a source, as well as estimates from public health agencies, showing the vaccination crisis is growing.She also visited clinics, spoke with families and interviewed public health experts for a comprehensive look at the availability of vaccines in Venezuela’s unraveling health-care system.Read more

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Aug. 20, 2021

Beat of the Week

(Honorable Mention)

Source work breaks news of Pentagon’s vaccine mandate

used strong source work to break the news that members of the U.S. military will be required to get the COVID-19 vaccine.Baldor, a veteran Pentagon reporter, spoke to contacts every day on the issue, and while some news outlets reported incorrectly that the Pentagon announcement would come Aug. 6, Baldor’s sources told her the decision was being pushed to the following week because of legal wrangling at the White House.She prepped a story on Friday, then got word mid-morning on Monday that an announcement was expected later in the day. She kept making calls until a longtime source gave her the memo on vaccine policy.

Immediately after AP’s alert, Baldor had a full story on the wire with quotes from the memo explaining the rationale behind the mandate. AP was the only news organization to get the memo and was first with the story and details, sending competitors scrambling to catch up; many news organizations cited AP as the news broke. The story had the most pageviews of the day on the AP News app and site. https://aplink.news/s2z

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Oct. 01, 2021

Beat of the Week

(Honorable Mention)

AP breaks news of vaccine mandate for US Olympic athletes

broke news of the groundbreaking policy mandating that U.S. Olympic athletes and staff be vaccinated by Nov. 1 to use facilities of the U.S. Olympic and Paralympic Committee in advance of February’s Beijing Games.Pells, AP’s longtime Olympics beat writer, knew that the committee was exploring a new vaccine policy and had followed the story closely. When the USOPC reached its decision they forwarded a stakeholders’ letter on the policy to Pells, telling him to be ready for its public release later in the week.Armed with the letter, Pells was fully prepped with a story and link to the freshly updated team website when the announcement came Wednesday, giving AP a full-fledged scoop on one of the first sports organizations anywhere to make vaccines mandatory. https://aplink.news/9mt

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Aug. 20, 2021

Best of the States

AP finds colleges concerned as some students turn to counterfeit vaccine cards

It started with a tip.

When a college student mentioned that fellow unvaccinated students were getting fake COVID-19 vaccine cards in order to attend in-person classes, AP global investigations intern Roselyn Romero remembered that she'd seen an account on Instagram offering fake cards for $25 each.

Romero began searching social media platforms and talked to college students, faculty, administrators and health officials. What she found was a cottage industry offering to accommodate people who refuse to get vaccinated but need documentation saying that they’ve had the shots.

Her deeply reported story had nearly 250,000 pageviews on AP News and was used by hundreds of news outlets, including online and print front pages. She was also interviewed by NPR’s “All Things Considered,” and Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer responded by calling for a multiagency crackdown on the counterfeit cards.

For having a major national impact with her first AP byline, Roselyn Romero wins this week’s Best of the States award.

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June 18, 2021

Beat of the Week

(Honorable Mention)

As COVID spikes in Africa, AP reveals low vaccine rates

combined to illustrate the severe shortages of vaccines and low levels of vaccinations in poor African countries and elsewhere, just as a worrying new rise in infection levels has emerged and as the issue became a key topic for G-7 leaders gathering for a summit.Imray, AP’s Cape Town, South Africa, sports writer, reported that vaccine shipments to Africa have ground to a “near halt” and that the continent faces a vaccine shortfall of 700 million doses. The reporting used a broad range of sources, including an interview with the head of Africa’s CDC, and strong feeds from colleagues around the world. The story was complemented by a selection of images from AP’s photographic team across Africa.Video freelancer Onen, meanwhile, obtained rare access to a COVID-19 ICU at the Mulago Hospital in Kampala. As a condition of entry, Onen shared his footage as pool with local broadcasters who were desperate for coverage amid a sharp virus spike. Given only a few minutes on the wards, Onen did a skillful job in bringing out the tension and urgency of the situation, images that no other global media organization was able to obtain.https://aplink.news/xw1https://aplink.video/ei8

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July 10, 2020

Beat of the Week

(Honorable Mention)

Immersive look at Facebook groups targeting Black Lives Matter

studied Facebook groups that opposed coronavirus shutdowns, finding that they shifted their target to the Black Lives Matter movement. Acting on a tip that such groups have a history of fundraising off hot-button issues, Seitz developed a database to track the groups, immersing herself in the online community to monitor misinformation and hate speech as the groups turned their attention against the Black Lives activism in the wake of George Floyd’s killing.The day after Amanda’s story was published, Facebook began suppressing search results for some of the groups mentioned in her story in an effort to limit their reach.https://bit.ly/30179p1

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Aug. 07, 2020

Beat of the Week

(Honorable Mention)

Exclusive visuals of largest COVID-19 final-round test

delivered impressive, carefully negotiated all-formats coverage as a leading U.S. COVID-19 vaccine candidate began final-round testing with volunteers in Binghamton, New York. The exclusive images – photo and video – were heavily played worldwide. The coverage also included an update on the original volunteers who received injections in Washington State in March.https://bit.ly/33ALS8Hhttps://bit.ly/3i9Jmue

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Feb. 12, 2021

Beat of the Week

(Honorable Mention)

Dolly Parton tells AP she’s waiting to get her vaccination

scored an exclusive interview with Dolly Parton who announced her new Super Bowl commercial.During the interview, Fekadu asked if she had gotten her Covid-19 vaccine, and Parton, who donated $1 million to coronavirus research, said she was waiting to get her vaccination shot because she didn’t want to seem like she was “jumping the line,” a story that was picked up by the “Today” show, WebMD, People magazine, Yahoo! and many more. She rocked the commercial too. https://bit.ly/3d3E6Jk

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Aug. 13, 2021

Beat of the Week

(Honorable Mention)

‘Viral Questions’ series cuts through the COVID confusion

captured the biggest audience yet for AP’s “Viral Questions” series, addressing two questions: one on the delta variant and a second on the potential for long-term symptoms after being vaccinated.The week’s first piece, “What should I know about the delta variant?,” gave readers the most up-to-date and accurate information the AP could provide about the delta variant. The item was first done by Ghosal in late June as the variant was gaining attention, and was recently updated by Neergaard to note that it has become the “most contagious coronavirus mutant so far in the pandemic.”Meanwhile, Tanner, who has been reporting on “long haulers” since early in the pandemic, looked at a growing question among experts: Could breakthrough infections result in long COVID? Tanner addressed the issue in a manner that was frank without being alarming, just as the topic was gaining traction with the broader public.Each piece — as have all of the 117 “Viral Questions” since the series began — has been accompanied by Hamlin’s illustrations. The series is produced weekly — sometimes several times a week — with contributions from reporters around the AP. It serves as a model for engaging harried audiences, cutting through clutter and misinformation by delivering quick, accessible answers to the most pressing coronavirus questions in a language, tone and format that meets readers where they are in their lives.https://aplink.news/sizhttps://aplink.news/drx

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Nov. 01, 2019

Beat of the Week

(Honorable Mention)

AP leads coverage of the 2020 US Census

for breaking news leading up to the 2020 U.S. headcount. Starting with a smart follow-up by Schneider showing that federal government’s attempts to get states to surrender driver’s license information have been a bust so far, and concluding with a weekend spotlight story by Seitz and Lerman showing how new concerns about misinformation and fraud could cause major problems for the Census Bureau.https://bit.ly/36mZDqShttps://bit.ly/2N0gbgI

March 05, 2021

Beat of the Week

(Honorable Mention)

Images document Turkey’s rural vaccination program

expanded AP’s international coverage of vaccination campaigns beyond the big cities. The Istanbul-based freelancer delivered strong photos and video of medical teams giving shots to elderly villagers in remote settlements in the mountainous Sivas province of central Turkey.With AP adding text and editing resources, Gurel’s striking package got wide play, and the video was picked up by clients in Asia, the Middle East and Europe. https://bit.ly/3c7wL9Mhttps://bit.ly/2MSqlmghttps://bit.ly/3c3ACEy

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Jan. 27, 2023

Best of the Week — First Winner

AP's Boone spearheads 20-outlet legal challenge to Idaho college stabbings gag order

The fatal stabbings of four college students at the University of Idaho campus in Moscow, Idaho, in November 2022 were initially shrouded in mystery and misinformation. As Boise, Idaho, Supervisory Correspondent Rebecca Boone worked to untangle all of this, a judge put up yet another barrier to getting the story to the public: a sweeping gag order prohibiting law enforcement agencies, attorneys or anyone else associated with the case from discussing it publicly.   

In the middle of one of the biggest stories in the nation, Boone suddenly had a new task on her plate: singlehandedly spearheading a legal challenge to the gag order — ultimately recruiting a coalition of 22 print and TV media outlets, including The New York Times, to join the cause.  

The AP couldn't have had a better advocate for the task. Boone has a track record of fighting for press access and has made the issue a top priority in her lengthy AP career. 

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Feb. 05, 2021

Beat of the Week

(Honorable Mention)

Data analysis exposes racial inequity in vaccinations

collaborated on a piece that exposed racial disparities in the early rollout of the vaccine, with African Americans lagging behind the rest of the country in getting shots. The team was initially stymied by a lack of comprehensive national data and scattered figures from state to state and city to city. But they were able to piece together data from 17 states and two cities to make a powerful, data-driven statement on the issue.The story showed that Black Americans were getting shots at rates dramatically below their share of the population, a disturbing development considering how much of a role race has played in disproportionately affecting people of color in the pandemic. The analysis put the AP out front on a critical issue, two days before the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention put out its own analysis of the issue. https://bit.ly/39OwuIQ

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April 22, 2022

Beat of the Week

(Honorable Mention)

Exclusive AP data reveals popularity of US homeschooling

obtained data across the country to establish the continued popularity of homeschooling for American families — even as schools reopened and vaccines became widely available.Because the federal government does not have a current database of homeschooling numbers, Thompson built her own by reaching out to education departments in all 50 states for their data. She also interviewed families for their perspectives on homeschooling, and used her experience on the education beat to put the trend in the context of homeschooling regulation debates, concerns over neglected students and a broader decline of public school enrollment.Read more

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Oct. 29, 2021

Beat of the Week

(Honorable Mention)

AP on Facebook: Strong coverage, consortium leadership

teamed up to mine The Facebook Papers — thousands of pages of internal company documents obtained by Frances Haugen, the former Facebook product manager-turned-whistleblower and the source for earlier reporting by The Wall Street Journal.And as it so often does, AP took the lead on coordinating Monday’s embargoed reporting among 17 U.S. news outlets more more accustomed to competition than collaboration. AP also served as a liaison to a separate European consortium. The result was an overwhelming flood of insightful journalism from dozens of outlets on two continents, and potentially hundreds of stories in subsequent weeks as more documents become available.Some of the AP’s own stories stood out in that flood for their depth and storytelling. More than a dozen colleagues spent days poring over the documents in every region. These stories included a look at Facebook’s struggle to curb problematic content in other languages; how the company enabled the trafficking of Filipina housemaids; and examinations of Facebook’s failure to curtail misinformation on the 2020 Election and COVID-19 vaccines.https://apnews.com/hub/the-fac...https://aplink.news/uke

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June 25, 2021

Beat of the Week

(Honorable Mention)

Exclusive AP interviews make headlines on Nepal, Tibet, India

landed key interviews in quick succession to drive the South Asia news agenda.Persistence by Kathmandu’s Gurubacharya paid off when Nepal’s newly appointed health minister, Sher Bahadur Tamang, revealed on camera that Nepal was in desperate need of vaccines and would allow any vaccine producer to run trials and produce vaccines with all fees waived.Meanwhile, across the border in India, Bhatia conducted a timely Zoom interview with the new president of the Tibetan government-in-exile, Penpa Tsering, in the northern city of Dharmsala, where the Dalai Lama has been living since fleeing Chinese forces in 1959. Tsering said a visit by the Dalai Lama to Tibet could be the best way to resume talks with China. Tsering’s extensive comments contrasted with a recent Chinese-led media tour of Tibet.And a day later, Delhi’s Pathi arranged an on-camera interview with Dr. Vinod K. Paul, head of India’s COVID-19 response team. He defended the India’s move to restrict vaccine exports, saying India wants to resume exports but can’t do so until its domestic needs are met. Paul also denied that the government was deliberately undercounting deaths or cases.The exclusive interviews elevated AP’s news report across formats, making headlines with regional and international customers.https://aplink.news/9u8https://aplink.news/5c9https://aplink.news/cddhttps://aplink.video/dfchttps://aplink.video/2vz

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March 05, 2021

Best of the Week — First Winner

Conspiracy, lies and social media: AP finds state, local GOP officials promoting online disinformation

After the deadly Jan. 6 insurrection at the U.S. Capitol, investigative reporters Garance Burke, Martha Mendoza and Juliet Linderman wanted to know if local, county and state Republican officials across the country were continuing to amplify online messages similar to those that had inspired the riot, and what they hoped to accomplish by doing so.

The trio turned to data journalist Larry Fenn, AP statehouse reporters and a comprehensive archive of the Parler social media platform. A third-party algorithm matched public officials to their Parler accounts, allowing an unprecedented look at GOP officials’ unfiltered posts on the right-wing aligned site. The analysis of Parler and other alternative platforms identified a faction of lower-level Republican officials that have pushed lies, misinformation and QAnon conspiracy theories echoing those that fueled the violent U.S. Capitol siege.

For harnessing the power of social media analysis, data science and AP’s state-level expertise to reveal how lies and misinformation from the 2020 election have reached deep into the GOP’s state apparatus, Burke, Mendoza, Linderman and Fenn win AP’s Best of the Week award.

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July 26, 2019

Beat of the Week

(Honorable Mention)

Trump’s harsh words on ‘squad’ reinforce dark posts online

for an impactful look at the connection between President Donald Trump’s words and the misinformation as well as sexist and racist content that circulates online. The collaboration between the fact check and White House teams showed how Trump has elevated incendiary rhetoric against four freshman Democratic congresswomen, playing into a conspiratorial feedback loop that has reared its head repeatedly during his campaign and presidency. https://bit.ly/2OjmMWa