Aug. 06, 2021

Beat of the Week

(Honorable Mention)

AP delivers standout all-formats coverage of Simone Biles narrative

gave AP exclusive glimpses into the saga that led gymnast Simone Biles to drop out of most of her events.During the first week of the Olympics, sports writer Graves and national writer Clare Galofaro used source work — contacts in Biles' camp, USA Gymnastics and others — to keep AP ahead of nearly every development through eight APNewsAlerts, including Biles’ shocking decision to leave the team gymnastics competition after one vault. AP had exclusive video of Biles at her hotel for several days as the world waited to find out if she would compete again, and had live shots of her moving around Tokyo and even going shopping at a pet store. AP also delivered world-class photography of her in action and on the sidelines cheering for her teammates.Graves, AP’s authority on gymnastics, has built a relationship with Biles that precedes the Rio Games and includes U.S. championships, world championships and one-on-one interviews, giving context to the fast-breaking stories coming out of Tokyo. In May, Biles had opened up in a multiformat interview about the pressures that would eventually move her to pull out of most Tokyo Games competition. Graves also produced a comprehensive explainer on “The Twisties,” the disorientation Biles felt as she was airborne, a story Biles herself liked on Twitter.https://aplink.news/1j6https://aplink.news/ghdhttps://aplink.video/br6

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Sept. 24, 2021

Beat of the Week

(Honorable Mention)

AP reports on furtive lives of US residents still in Afghanistan

kept following a story much of the media has moved on from: what day-to-day life is like for American resident green-card holders who were left behind after the U.S. military’s chaotic exit from Afghanistan.The pair’s story, based on text messages, emails and phone conversations from those still in Afghanistan to loved ones and rescue groups, and directly with the AP, described a fearful, furtive existence of hiding in houses for weeks, keeping the lights off at night, moving from place to place, and donning baggy clothing and burqas to avoid detection by the Taliban if they absolutely must venture out.All say they were scared the Taliban would find them, throw them in jail, perhaps even kill them because they are Americans or had worked for the U.S. government. And they are concerned that the Biden administration’s promised efforts to get them out have stalled.Investigative reporter Condon and San Diego-based journalist Watson had to walk a fine line, telling individuals’ stories without identifying details that would open them to potential retaliation. The ambitious story, accompanied by photos provided by one family of green card holders from California, was part of an important body of AP work over the past week that remained focused on Afghanistan in the aftermath of the U.S. withdrawal. https://aplink.news/yt9

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Sept. 17, 2021

Beat of the Week

(Honorable Mention)

AP reports on communities suffering loss of Black morticians

teamed up to chronicle the toll the pandemic has taken on Black funeral directors in the U.S. Some 130 Black morticians have died since the onset of COVID-19, leaving holes not just in their families but in their communities, where they have long played a prominent role. Often admired for their success in business, a number have been elected to political office, served as local power brokers and helped fund civil rights efforts.Geller interviewed the families of Black morticians who died, and Breed shot emotional video and photos of Mullins, South Carolina, funeral director Shawn Troy, who suddenly finds himself trying to fill his father’s shoes. The result is a powerful look at a unique toll that COVID has taken in many Black communities.https://aplink.news/f8shttps://aplink.video/b4a

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Sept. 10, 2021

Beat of the Week

(Honorable Mention)

Rescue groups tell AP: US missed hundreds still in Afghanistan

delivered the most detailed look yet into the true toll of the Americans still in Afghanistan after the U.S. pullout, fact-checking the Biden administration’s estimate that no more than 200 American citizens were left behind. Rather than take the administration’s estimate at face value, the pair reported on the independent experiences of veteran-led rescue groups and members of Congress who say the figure is too low and also overlooks hundreds of others they consider to be equally American: permanent legal residents with green cards.The leader of one volunteer group told AP that the official count of U.S. citizens is off by hundreds, and California Rep. Darrell Issa, said the calls his office is receiving lead him to estimate the true toll of U.S. citizens left in Afghanistan is about 500.As for green card holders — who have lived in the U.S. for years, paid taxes, owned property and often have children who are U.S. citizens — the true number who want to get out is in the hundreds and perhaps more than 1,000, according to rescue groups and lawmakers. San Diego reporter Watson and New York investigative reporter Condon highlighted the plight of one family of green card holders who lived in Sacramento for years and who have been texting daily with their children’s elementary school principal while trying to escape Afghanistan. “I’m loosing the hope,” texted the mother.AP’s story, with contributions from Kathy Gannon in Kabul and Matt Lee in Washington, was among the most-read on the AP News app on the Labor Day holiday weekend and was featured prominently on major news sites. https://aplink.news/3yy

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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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Aug. 27, 2021

Beat of the Week

(Honorable Mention)

Quick response, strong sourcing put AP ahead on Washington standoff

delivered exclusive reporting and photos of a disturbed man who held the capital hostage for hours last week when he threatened to blow up his truck outside the Library of Congress.Washington reporter Tucker received an exclusive tip that something was happening near the U.S. Capitol; his colleague Balsamo confirmed it and they quickly filed an alert. AP had details of the threat for a solid 20 minutes before anyone else reported it, and continued to report exclusive details of building evacuations and the police response. Meanwhile, Biesecker dug up details of the suspect’s life and spoke with familymembers who were concerned about the man’s mental state.At the scene, photographer Brandon scrambled to a vantage point at the Capitol and was first to make photos — and report — when the man finally surrendered to authorities. Our exclusive alert and story based on Brandon’s details moved before other news organizations that relied on the news conference. Brandon’s images of the truck and the man surrendering were also AP exclusives. Fellow photographer Carolyn Kaster made photos of the investigation that followed.https://aplink.news/7slhttps://aplink.video/6g2

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Aug. 20, 2021

Best of the Week — First Winner

Dual winners: Resourceful AP teams deliver smart, fast, exclusive coverage in Afghanistan, Haiti

From Afghanistan to Haiti, AP staffers and stringers on two sides of the world were challenged last week to cover fast-breaking news while keeping themselves and their families safe. They excelled at both; AP’s coverage of Afghanistan’s fall to Taliban insurgents and the deadly earthquake across Haiti share Best of the Week honors.

In Afghanistan, with events unfolding at a breakneck pace, AP journalists amid the turmoil on the ground were complemented by colleagues in several countries and time zones collaborating to confirm the news and get it out.

AP sent out 17 alerts on Sunday alone, as city after city surrendered to the Taliban. And AP was among the first — perhaps the outright first — to report that President Ashraf Ghani had fled the country and Taliban forces were entering the capital.

That same weekend, when a powerful magnitude 7.2 earthquake struck southwestern Haiti leaving hundreds dead, AP journalists on the island scrambled to get to the area within hours. Editors outside Haiti jumped in to help gather and verify content, and a second team arrived in-country within a day to reinforce the coverage. AP stood out in all formats, including first live video of the disaster and photos that landed on front pages.

For outstanding breaking news coverage under extreme circumstances, the AP team in Afghanistan with their international colleagues, and the AP team covering Haiti — Pierre Luxama, Evens Sanon, Joseph Odelyn, Mark Stevenson, Fernando Llano, Matías Delacroix, Marko Alvarez and Fernando González — are co-winners of AP’s Best of the Week award.

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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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Aug. 06, 2021

Beat of the Week

(Honorable Mention)

AP exclusive as fired anti-corruption prosecutor flees Guatemala

had spent years cultivating a rapport with Juan Francisco Sandoval, Guatemala’s special prosecutor against corruption, who had won praise from U.S. officials for work that rattled Guatemala’s most powerful citizens, including President Alejandro Giammattei.Her efforts paid off when Sandoval was abruptly fired, a move that would lead the U.S. to temporarily suspend cooperation with the office of Guatemala’s attorney general. After attending the post-firing news conference, Pérez was ushered into the office of the country’s human rights ombudsman and invited to be the sole journalist to accompany Sandoval in his small convoy of armored SUVs as he fled the country. Across the border in El Salvador, Pérez reported on his comments and took photos and video, agreeing for safety reasons to publish only once he had safely boarded a flight to the United States hours later.Pérez’s story moved early the next morning and was used by major national and international outlets; a competitive agency didn't report Sandoval's exit until later that day and did so citing the human rights ombudsman.https://aplink.news/z1ehttps://aplink.video/mt3

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Aug. 06, 2021

Beat of the Week

(Honorable Mention)

AP takes a revealing look at fallout for Jan. 6 defendants

spent weeks gaining the trust of a U.S. Capitol riot defendant, resulting in an exclusive look at how the aftermath of Jan. 6 has affected her and her business.Kunzelman is an integral part of the AP team across the country reporting on the Capitol riot criminal cases, looking thematic stories beyond the daily court proceedings. He arranged to meet Pauline Bauer after a court hearing in Washington, and after a brief interview she agreed to meet him at her restaurant in Kane, Pennsylvania, a town of fewer than 4,000 residents in a county where nearly three-quarters of voters cast ballots for Trump in November. In Kane he interviewed Bauer and a fellow Capitol riot defendant, the mayor and residents both loyal and hostile to Bauer. Bauer’s arrest and that of a longtime friend have rekindled partisan bickering, mostly on social media some residents say, as many in Kane struggle to comprehend how two of their neighbors could be among the hundreds of Trump loyalists bent on overturning the election that day.Kunzelman also delivered photos with the piece, which was the second most-read story of the week on AP News, second only to Simone Biles sitting out Olympic competition. https://aplink.news/be9

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June 25, 2021

Best of the States

AP marks 600,000-death milestone with distinctive data-driven look at COVID racial inequality

The 600,000th COVID-19 death in the U.S. presented a big challenge: How to bring fresh perspective to yet another milestone, just months after we crossed the 400,000 and 500,000 marks. The trio of medical writer Carla K. Johnson, data journalist Angel Kastanis and reporter Olga Rodriguez met the challenge and then some, delivering a data-driven Only on AP package that showed how the virus has exploited racial inequality as it cut a swath through the country.

Kastanis analyzed demographic data of all 600,000 deaths to show the uneven toll during the various phases of the pandemic, breaking down the disproportionate effect on the Black and Latino communities. Rodriguez reported on a family that led the story, while Johnson served as the lead writer, rounding out the piece with medical analysis, perspective and reporting. Contributions by AP’s top stories team included an engaging interactive map of the U.S. showing the virus advancing geographically to 600,000 souls.

The package resonated with readers and customers on the AP News platform, where it was among the top stories, as well as on social media and on newspaper front pages around the country.

For a shining example of AP collaboration across teams, using sharp data analysis and on-the-ground reporting to reveal the pandemic’s impact on communities of color, the team of Johnson, Kastanis and Rodriguez receives this week’s Best of the States award.

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July 30, 2021

Best of the Week — First Winner

AP gets first look inside China’s largest detention center, breaks news on Uyghur incarceration

The sprawling Urumqi No. 3 Detention Center in Xinjiang, China, is the largest such facility in China (possibly the world), holding perhaps 10,000 or more and embodying the plight of the Uyghurs and other mostly Muslim minorities. Western news organizations have only been able to report from the outside. But the Beijing-based team of enterprise journalist Dake Kang, photographer Mark Schiefelbein and news director Ken Moritsugu managed to get a tour, making the AP the first Western news organization to report inside the facility.

They delivered a vivid package on life inside the detention center, from numbered and tagged Uyghurs sitting ramrod straight to the instructions on force-feeding in the medical room. The journalists also revealed a disturbing new trend: China is moving from the temporary detention of Uyghurs to more permanent mass incarceration of people who have committed no real crime.

The story topped AP’s reader engagement for the week and drew comment from the U.S. ambassador to the United Nations who called China’s repression of the Uyghurs “horrific.”

For bringing the world rare insight into the detention centers where China holds Uyghurs, the team of Kang, Schiefelbein and Moritsugu earns AP’s Best of the Week award.

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July 30, 2021

Best of the States

Only on AP: 20 years later, chaplain’s litany of prayers for US troops killed in Afghanistan finally comes to an end

With the end of the war in Afghanistan looming, national writer Matt Sedensky sought a compelling way to humanize America’s longest war — and he found it. Nearly all the American troops killed in the war had their remains returned to Dover Air Force Base in Delaware, where the military runs a mortuary. There, Sedensky found chaplain David Sparks, who had been called to active duty after 9/11, assigned to the mortuary, and had been there ever since.

Sedensky pieced together Sparks’ experience: writing hundreds of prayers for the dead, standing beside their disfigured remains and ministering to their broken families. Joined by New York video journalist Jessie Wardarski and Washington photographer Carolyn Kaster, the team had access to parts of the base hidden far from public view. The resulting package, with Sedensky’s expressive prose and affecting visuals by Wardarski and Kaster, generated a strong response from veterans and non-military alike.

For intimate, revealing work that eloquently writes one of the closing chapters of America’s 20-year war, the team of Sedensky, Kaster and Wardarski earns this week’s Best of the States award.

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July 30, 2021

Beat of the Week

(Honorable Mention)

AP days ahead with scoop on new chief of Capitol Police

used source work to break news, naming the new chief for the U.S. Capitol Police three days ahead of the official announcement. They were so far out front that a local news station said even the new chief had not been officially told he had the job.The selection of a new head for the beleaguered department had been closely tracked by Washington national and local media in the aftermath of the Jan. 6 insurrection. But AP was well ahead of the competition, started with a source’s late-night tip to Justice Department reporter Tucker that J. Thomas Manger, former chief in Montgomery County, Maryland, was about to be named chief. Tucker shared that tip with Washington colleagues Michael Balsamo, Colleen Long and Mary Clare Jalonick, and the group flooded their sources, getting quiet acknowledgements. The following afternoon a second source confirmed the selection to Tucker, and the team — intimately familiar with the department and the search process — rounded out the story for Monday afternoon’s scoop.Their piece immediately received strong play and AP was cited by other news outlets that had been chasing the story. https://aplink.news/9wb

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July 23, 2021

Beat of the Week

(Honorable Mention)

AP reveals the inside story of glaring vaccine inequity globally

turned a year spent tracking global vaccine distribution into an authoritatively sobering assessment: A grotesque vaccine disparity has emerged between rich and poor countries, at a scale even experts who’d warned of inequitable distribution hadn’t envisioned.Tapping connections worldwide, including officials and bankers who participated in key behind-the-scenes vaccine discussions in Europe and the U.S., the AP trio found that negotiators acknowledged they could have made bigger demands of pharmaceutical companies — but that it was now too late. They also learned that COVAX, the United Nations’ vaccine procurement effort, simply did not have the cash to make deals when rich countries were buying up all the supplies, while pleas for funding to the World Bank and others were rejected.What emerged was a richly reported piece that lays out the specific reasons behind the glaring disparities and contradicts the sweeping pandemic rhetoric about global solidarity: European and American officials deeply involved in bankrolling and distributing the vaccines told the AP there was no thought of how to handle the situation globally. Instead, they jostled for their own domestic use. https://aplink.news/wjg

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July 23, 2021

Beat of the Week

(Honorable Mention)

AP analysis: Wealth, enrollment disparities threaten smaller Black colleges

teamed up to reveal wide disparities among the nation’s historically Black colleges and universities, with many smaller private schools fighting for survival.The reporting by Hudspeth Blackburn and Amy was built on an analysis of enrollment and endowment data by data journalists Fenn and Fassett. They found that many smaller, lesser-known HBCUs are struggling with weak endowments, aging buildings and steady enrollment declines. And while HBCUs in the U.S. have received millions of dollars in federal coronavirus aid and fresh attention after last summer’s racial justice protests, not all benefit equally.The team’s comprehensive story was complemented by embeddable graphics illustrating the disparities, and advance detailed data on all 102 HBCUs for localization by AP customers. https://aplink.news/wrn

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July 16, 2021

Beat of the Week

(Honorable Mention)

AP Exclusive: US leaves Bagram base; Afghans left in the dark

were quick to deliver an all-formats look — and an exclusive — from Bagram Airfield in Afghanistan after the U.S. departure from the base that served for nearly 20 years as the epicenter of America’s war to unseat the Taliban and hunt down al-Qaida.Media around the world were watching for the U.S. withdrawal from Bagram, but Gannon, AP’s Afghanistan/Pakistan news director with decades of hard-won experience in the region, broke news. First, she pressed for access to the base after the U.S. military's July 2 departure. Joined by Kabul-based video journalist Amin and photographer Gul, the trio were granted access on July 5 and arrived to provide a rare glimpse of what had been the largest U.S. military base in the country.But that access was only one element of the story. The new Afghan commander of Bagram was initially reluctant to share details about how he and his troops took control of the base. Gannon told him there had been rumors about looting, and with her persistent questioning, the commander finally shared the full story: U.S. troops left quietly, switched off the lights and never bothered to tell the Afghan military that they were gone. The gap of two hours between the U.S. departure and the arrival of the Afghan military at Bagram enabled looters to sneak into the once heavily guarded base.The story made a splash, with Gannon fielding interview requests from major news outlets to describe what she had seen and heard at Bagram. The Pentagon, facing criticism after Gannon’s story appeared, later said the Afghans had been informed two days in advance of the U.S. intention to leave, but that the precise hour was left secret for security reasons. The team’s all-formats reporting provided an early look at the post-U.S. era in Afghanistan, in a package that was stunning for its detail and news value.https://aplink.news/95ehttps://aplink.video/odbhttps://aplink.video/5bq

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July 02, 2021

Best of the States

A photographer’s unique vision merges past and present for front-line nurses

With the U.S. slowly emerging from COVID-19, it might be easy to assume that the pandemic will soon be in the past, but for many, particularly health care workers, the trauma of what they experienced while caring for deathly sick patients will be with them for years to come.

To capture the idea that the past can be part of the present, Los Angeles photographer Jae Hong focused on intensive care nurses at a Southern California hospital who had taken care of extremely ill COVID patients and, despite all efforts, had lost many. That ward closed this spring, but the memories endure for these nurses.

Hong’s approach called for a photo technique not typically used in reporting the news: He made multiple exposure portraits of 10 of the nurses in the hospital, resulting in haunting images that show each nurse both in the photo, the present, and seemingly somewhere else in the past.

Accompanied by revealing interviews, the piece played widely in the U.S. and beyond, and attracted attention on social media.

For arresting, interpretive photography that evokes the lingering effects of the pandemic on these front-line medical workers, Hong earns this week’s Best of the States award.

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July 02, 2021

Beat of the Week

(Honorable Mention)

With Lebanon in crisis, AP team sheds rare light on the elderly

explored the Lebanon’s often-neglected elderly population, particularly those who suffer from poverty amid the country’s dual crises of the pandemic and a sinking economy. Lebanon has the greatest number of elderly in the Middle East, but most of the population above the age of 65 has no retirement benefits or health care coverage, leaving them to fend for themselves.The Beirut team’s moving and informative all-formats story leads with an elderly couple who received a one-time $15,000 payout when the husband retired 20 years ago. They have since depended on charity to cover almost everything; the cash they get from charitable sources every month, once amounting to $400, is now barely worth $40 as Lebanon’s currency collapses.The story played widely and the AP team received messages from people around the world asking how they can help those featured in the story. Al-Jazeera ran a gallery of Hassan’s photos, while among those sharing the piece was a U.S. diplomat in the region who described it as “horrifying details from Lebanon’s Year Zero.”https://aplink.news/mqqhttps://aplink.video/z53

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June 25, 2021

Beat of the Week

(Honorable Mention)

Exceptional planning, execution of summit coverage yields big AP wins

collaborated on sweeping coverage of the Biden-Putin summit that outpaced all the competition.In advance of the summit, AP chased down all the moving parts, staying in touch with local officials and the U.S. mission, clarifying early on where the events would happen and establishing positions.Thanks to that preparation, the truly international video crew delivered outstanding live shots and features, including the summit venue at Parc de La Grange, security, arrivals and departures, reactions of residents and diplomats, protests and impressive shots of the city, among them a continuous live shot from the balcony of Geneva’s Ritz-Carlton from sunrise to sunset. AP offered more live signals and was faster than other outlets, offering more video edits and content than our main competitors.Meanwhile, text reporters from Washington and Moscow combined to put together smart enterprise and preview pieces, then quickly, deftly but firmly shifted to the main event, chronicling the day’s spot developments — a job that required throwing a few shoulders to get through the media scrum and past a Russian security guard for access to the opening photo op of the two leaders seated in a small study. AP managed to pose two questions to Putin that would dominate his post-summit news conference a few hours later: What would he do if Ukraine joined NATO? And why was he so afraid of opposition leader Alexei Navalny? At that, several members of Russian security pushed AP’s reporter from the room.The reporting team in Geneva, working closely with the Washington-based trip desk, filed a running stream of alerts and updates on spot developments, along with sidebars and takeaways on the upshot of the two leaders’ meeting.The photo team, drawing on Moscow, Washington and European staffers, was no less formidable. AP’s initial images of Putin and Biden together were the first to reach our clients, beating the opposition by almost two minutes. Remote photo editing in Washington ensured fast and seamless delivery of images, completing AP’s standout performance across all formats.https://aplink.news/89rhttps://aplink.video/vufhttps://aplink.video/u67

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