June 12, 2020

Best of the States

AP Analysis: After previous police killings, states slow to reform use-of-force

Calls for police reforms after George Floyd’s death in Minneapolis have echoed the calls to action after a wave of killings of young black men by police in 2014. 

So what happened after those killings? 

Ohio statehouse reporter Julie Carr Smyth, working with AP colleagues around the country, found that while nearly half the states have since enacted some type of reform, only a third passed legislation limiting use of force. The reporting revealed that contributions from politically influential police unions were a key factor in stalling legislation, while a separate analysis by the data team showed that Minneapolis police disproportionately used force against blacks when compared with other racial groups. 

The day Smyth’s story moved, a number of states made proposals to limit the use of deadly force.

For quickly reporting out and leading a national look at what reforms have taken place in the last six years, Smyth wins this week’s Best of the States award.

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Feb. 15, 2019

Best of the States

Freeze frames: Resourceful, creative visuals of old-school ice harvesting

It doesn’t get much cooler than this.

Portland, Maine-based photographer Bob Bukaty’s captivating video and photos bring to life the 120-year-old tradition of ice harvesting, a process that yields ice used for cooling beverages at a New Hampshire summer resort. Using a variety of techniques, equipment, angles, reflections and vantage points, Bukaty took the readers onto the ice on Squam Lake in Holderness, N.H.

Concord correspondent Michael Casey originated the story and wrote the text, while East digital presentation editor Samantha Shotzbarger adapted Casey’s text story into an audio script, voiced by broadcast journalist Warren Levinson.

Bukaty spent most of a frigid day on the lake, using a GoPro camera in a waterproof housing to record the activity under and over the 13-inch-thick ice. He also recorded interviews of group members who used chain saws, ice picks and a massive sled-mounted saw to harvest the blocks of ice from the lake surface.

The striking visuals were the talk of newsrooms in New England and at New York headquarters. By week’s end the story had nearly 30,000 page views, and the video spent three days among AP’s top U.S. newsroom-ready videos – even while competing against State of the Union coverage.

For their story that generated national interest with compelling visuals, the team of Bukaty, Shotzbarger and Casey wins this week’s Best of the States.

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Sept. 18, 2020

Beat of the Week

(Honorable Mention)

NFL scrambles to restart disability benefits after AP reporting

Eddie Pells, Denver-based national sports writer, reported exclusively that a fund jointly run by the NFL and the players union had given out $127 million in health benefits to disabled retired players in 2019, but had gone completely dormant since March, approving no applications and not reimbursing any medical bills. The source for the story, a former player, contacted AP because he was familiar with Pells’ previous reporting and wanted the story to have as wide an audience as possible. Within a day of getting questions from Pells, the NFL scrambled to send a letter to all applicants saying approvals would restart soon. AP was alone with the story, which played on ESPN’s SportsCenter and was used on the crawls of all the major sports networks. https://bit.ly/3c4yFr2

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May 21, 2021

Beat of the Week

(Honorable Mention)

Renewed hope: Stunning package on women fish processors in Africa

launched AP’s grant-funded year-long series on the pandemic’s impact on women in Africa's least developed nations with this ambitious multiformat project. They tell the uplifting story of the women fish processors of Bargny, Senegal, and their tale of survival amid the economic hardships imposed by the pandemic.The package exemplified the very best in AP all-formats storytelling: stunning visual journalism complementing the reporting and driving readers and viewers deeper into the story of the women’s cooperative work to support a community through the toughest of times.The Dakar-based West Africa team of photographer Leo Correa, correspondent Carley Petesch and senior producer Yesica Fisch initially spent weeks working tirelessly to make contacts and gain the trust of the women as they waited for the fishing season to finally begin. Their reporting let the women's voices tell their story — and the visuals put you on the beach as they work laying out the catch, smoking the fish under smoldering peanut shells.Deep storytelling like this also took a team of editors and producers to make the work sing. Digital storytelling producer Nat Castañeda, deputy news director/U.S. South Janelle Cogan, Beirut-based producer Hend Kortam and chief photographer/Africa Jerome Delay collaborated across continents and were essential to the success of the package, delivering video edits, photo galleries, digital production and text tailored to meet client needs.Major European client France24's Journal d'Afrique editor wrote: “The visuals of the Senegal story are among the best I’ve seen in recent years from one of the main agencies.”https://aplink.news/h5bhttps://aplink.photos/4zohttps://aplink.video/gj1

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Dec. 03, 2021

Beat of the Week

(Honorable Mention)

AP team explores local women fighting COVID in Burkina Faso

developed a nuanced story around the lives of women struggling to raise awareness of the threat posed by COVID-19 in one of the world’s least developed nations, where the virus and its effects are hidden and often overlooked.Tests, vaccines and public messaging around COVID-19 often miss many of Burkina Faso's 20 million people, despite $200 million budgeted for virus response. In a region where women are responsible for family work and community relationships, they’ve stepped up to provide information and resources amid the public health crisis and economic hardship. With funding through a grant provided by the European Journalism Centre, the AP was able to identify the women who could best share their stories with AP’s audience.But this positive story, simple in inception, was challenging to tell at first. Stringer reporter Sam Mednick writes: “... COVID hasn't been front and center in Burkina Faso . ... it was really hard to find people who could speak to it since there are so many other problems they have to contend with. Once we found the (subjects of the) story I think the challenge was gaining the women’s trust, bringing their stories to life in a way that did them justice as well as highlighted the situation in the country.”The story achieved that, exploring the lives of two women in Kaya, a conflict area outside the capital. The package took readers deep into the lives of these women and their communities and explored how their individual efforts make them leaders in the global work against the coronavirus, as vital to their community as politicians and scientists.Video by West Africa senior producer Yesica Fisch was used by key AP clients around the world, and along with photos by freelancer Sophie Garcia, complemented the text, elevating the presentation designed by digital storytelling producer Natalie Castañeda.https://aplink.news/nnmhttps://aplink.photos/1m8https://aplink.video/wj2

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Dec. 17, 2021

Beat of the Week

(Honorable Mention)

Meticulous preparation produces standout video of pope’s trip

ensured that video coverage of the pope’s recent five-day trip to Greece and Cyprus was comprehensive and virtually flawless, giving AP an edge over the competition.Working from the pope’s complex schedule, the two senior producers — Murru in Rome, Tsongas in Athens — began advance work in August. Their meticulous planning and smart deployments of AP video journalists from European bureaus meant that AP had cameras in all the right places, live coverage of all the main events and coordination with other agencies and host broadcasters for pool material.As the pope plane-hopped from Cyprus to Athens to Lesbos and back to Athens, AP provided unrivaled live and edited coverage, including unscheduled incidents, such as the Orthodox priest heckling the pope in Athens and two Italian exchange students convincing him to pose with them for a selfie. Murru also had the foresight to work from the Athens press center during the pope’s visit to Lesbos, making AP the only agency to deliver video that wasn’t part of the pool coverage, including key footage of the pope greeting people in a migrant camp on the island. In all, the team produced some 60 video edits during the trip.The video planning and production paid dividends in logistics and content for other formats as well; AP writers enhanced their stories with color and comments pulled from the footage.https://aplink.video/kyehttps://aplink.video/tnvhttps://aplink.video/ym5

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Nov. 01, 2019

Best of the Week — First Winner

AP investigation: Ukraine’s Zelenskiy pressured by Trump months before call

Desmond Butler and Michael Biesecker, global investigations reporters in Washington, wanted to fill out the timeline of the diplomatic scandal at the heart of House impeachment inquiry. While Biesecker worked sources in Washington, Butler traveled to Ukraine to meet with associates of Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy, and with other sources developed over years of investigating wrongdoing in the former Soviet Union.

What they learned moved the needle on a complex narrative — associates of the Ukrainian leader said that pressure from the Trump White House started much earlier than was known previously, dating from shortly after Zelenskiy’s election in April, and before he took office as president. 

The scoop was the latest in a series of breaking stories and exclusives by the pair that have defined coverage of the impeachment investigation and former New York Mayor Rudy Giuliani’s role in it.

For meticulous work that led to a major scoop and widened the horizons of the ongoing Ukraine-Trump story, Butler and Biesecker share AP’s Best of the Week award. 

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May 21, 2021

Beat of the Week

(Honorable Mention)

AP: WHO knew of sex misconduct by personnel in Congo

revealed that, contrary to World Health Organization claims, WHO senior management did know about at least two cases of doctors accused of sex abuse and misconduct during the Ebola outbreak in the Democratic Republic of Congo, but did not fire or even apparently discipline them.Health and science reporter Cheng advanced the story by putting names, for the first time, to the implicated doctors and a senior manager. She discovered that WHO managers even witnessed an agreement in which a WHO doctor agreed to pay a young woman he had allegedly impregnated.While Cheng worked with her sources, Congo stringer Kudra Maliro tracked down several alleged victims of both doctors, adding text and images. The investigation was based on interviews with dozens of WHO staffers, Ebola officials in Congo, private emails, legal documents and recordings of internal meetings obtained by the AP.The story drew strong and immediate international response. Paula Donovan, co-director of a group that tracks sex abuse, wrote: “Never ... have I seen such a detailed exposé containing so many unanswerable indictments against so many UN personnel. You’ve broken real ground here.”https://aplink.news/f39https://aplink.video/pk5

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Dec. 08, 2017

Best of the States

AP analysis finds disproportionate segregation in charter schools

It began as an effort to find something new to say about a well-documented trend: the growing levels of racial segregation in American schools. Data journalist Larry Fenn, working with Ivan Moreno and the Education Beat Team, began analyzing enrollment data, looking for areas where segregation has become especially severe. Fenn spent long hours building the data set, both for AP reporting and for distribution to AP members.

What jumped out, in city after city, was the prevalence of charters among schools with the most extreme racial segregation. After months of analysis and reporting, AP revealed that fully 17 percent of charter schools nationally, or over 1,000 of them, have 99 percent minority enrollment.

Fenn's dataset for distribution to members had the most downloads and most unique users of any of AP's data offerings to date. For a project that led to record levels of engagement, Fenn and Moreno share this week’s Best of the States prize.

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Dec. 02, 2019

Best of the Week — First Winner

As women take to the streets, an in-depth look at domestic violence in France

Kamil Zihnioglu has seen lots of protests while working as a photo stringer for The Associated Press in Paris, but these campaigns were different, focused on a dark, unreconstructed side of an otherwise progressive France.

Every time a woman is killed by her partner, hundreds of activists take to the streets under cover of night to plaster signs decrying the deaths and pleading for government action. 

But Zihnioglu wanted to tell the story behind the protests. He spent weeks gaining the activists’ trust, and he teamed up with visiting video journalist Mstyslav Chernov to tell their story. Meanwhile, reporter Claire Parker and the Paris video team of Catherine Gaschka and Oleg Cetinic produced a powerful all-format package digging into deadly domestic violence in France.

For bringing attention to an issue that is often ignored, Kamil Zihnioglu, Claire Parker, Mystslav Chernov, Catherine Gaschka and Oleg Cetinic win AP’s Best of the Week.

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May 01, 2020

Beat of the Week

(Honorable Mention)

AP takes a multinational look at the issues facing nursing homes

AP teams in Europe and the U.S. put together packages looking separately at the issues and concerns facing nursing homes during the coronavirus outbreak.

The European team produced three all-formats exclusives taking a searing look behind the scenes of nursing homes in Britain in France, exposing the pain that residents, families and medical staff are suffering as COVID-19 cuts a deadly path through homes for the elderly, killing thousands.https://bit.ly/3d0c3Yahttps://bit.ly/2VMG2Nc

In the U.S., New York staffers exposed the lack of coronavirus testing in U.S. nursing homes with two strong pieces, one finding only a third of such facilities have access to tests despite more than 13,000 deaths, and another on an outbreak in Brooklyn in which none of the 55 residents listed as dying from COVID-19 had ever been tested.https://bit.ly/3d18LE0https://bit.ly/2KMU630

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Aug. 28, 2020

Beat of the Week

(Honorable Mention)

A year in the making: Exclusive AP interview with Placido Domingo

scored a coveted exclusive: an all-formats interview with Placido Domingo. Barry spent a year convincing Domingo’s team that the singer should sit down and talk to the news agency that broke the story about investigations and sexual misconduct allegations against him. When Domingo’s team finally agreed, Barry was able to negotiate access for photos and video to cover not just the interview, but the concert on the eve of the interview, which for cultural events in Italy is not always the case.Barry conducted the interview in English and Italian, keeping her composure even when her line of questioning prompted Domingo’s family to “swarm” her. The story received wide play with news outlets directly crediting the AP’s interview and previous reporting. Some non-AP customers, including the BBC, were forced to credit the AP in their stories on the interview and Domingo’s denial of abusing power.https://bit.ly/34CurW0https://bit.ly/3ltJKGG

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Oct. 23, 2020

Beat of the Week

(Honorable Mention)

Data, reporting reveal millions exposed to wildfire pollution

used government air pollution data, academic studies and interviews to report exclusively that the western wildfires exposed at least 38 million people in five states to unhealthy levels of smoke, causing emergency room visits to spike and potentially thousands of deaths among the elderly and infirm. The all-formats package included the experience of an Oregon woman whose smoke-triggered asthma attacks twice sent her to the emergency room.https://bit.ly/34hvDgShttps://bit.ly/3m6yeR0

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July 06, 2018

Best of the Week — First Winner

An AP blockbuster: Algeria forces 13,000 migrants into the desert, some to their deaths

“Here in the desert, Algeria has abandoned more than 13,000 people in the past 14 months, including pregnant women and children, stranding them without food or water and forcing them to walk, sometimes at gunpoint, under temperatures of up to 48 degrees Celsius (118 degrees Fahrenheit).”

With that chilling declaration, the AP opened a new chapter in the ongoing, global saga of migrant suffering. Reporter Lori Hinnant and visual journalists Jerome Delay and Bram Janssen revealed the Algerian government’s complicity in a horror that had gone unreported – and had led to the deaths of an unknown number of migrants. Their exclusive story is the Beat of the Week.

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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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Oct. 29, 2021

Beat of the Week

(Honorable Mention)

As COVID surges in Russia, AP wins access to Moscow ICU

used months of strong contact-building in Moscow’s hospitals to get first access to an intensive care unit — several days ahead of the competition — at a time when Russia is facing almost daily records for both COVID infections and deaths.Video journalist Manenkov and chief photographer Zemlianichenko won permission to work inside the “Red Zone” at Moscow City Clinical Hospital 52, where the staff is facing the crush of the country’s COVID-19 crisis. The pair gave Moscow writer Isachenkov perfect material to explore the lagging pace of vaccination across the country, a source of despair among the front-line doctors and nurses. And their visuals gave AP global customers an array of powerful images telling the story of COVID in Russia.https://aplink.news/rm0https://aplink.video/f63

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Oct. 19, 2018

Best of the States

High-profile Georgia race focuses national attention on voter ID requirements

In the current political and media environment, it’s not often that a state politics story without President Donald Trump’s name in it drives a national political conversation for almost a week.

But that’s what happened when Atlanta-based newsperson Ben Nadler published a look at Georgia’s “exact match” voter registration verification process and other policies backed by Secretary of State Brian Kemp. Kemp, the Republican gubernatorial candidate, faces Democrat Stacey Abrams, vying to become the first black female governor of any state.

According to records obtained by Nadler from Kemps office through a public records request, 53,000 registrations – 70 percent of them from black applicants – were on hold with less than a month before the Nov. 6 election. Nadler also found that Kemp’s office has cancelled more than 1.4 million inactive voter registrations since 2012 – nearly 670,000 registrations in 2017 alone.

The story got tremendous play with AP customers over multiple news cycles and lit up social media.

For his deep look at a critical issue in Georgia’s high-stakes gubernatorial election and driving a national political discussion for days, Nadler wins this week’s Best of the States award.

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Sept. 20, 2019

Best of the Week — First Winner

AP offers compelling takes on two oft-reported crises: Migrant rescues and opioid trafficking

They are crises that have received significant attention while playing out in different parts of the world, but the efforts of a trio of AP journalists have shed new light on both the perilous journey of migrants in the Mediterranean and the opioid epidemic in America.

The work of the journalists, Renata Brito aboard the Ocean Viking humanitarian ship sailing in the Mediterranean Sea, and Lindsay Whitehurst and Claire Galofaro in the U.S., tells the respective stories with a captivating clarity that resonated with readers and earned a rare tie in the Best of the Week contest. Each story demonstrated the profound storytelling power the AP can bring to complex stories with ingenuity, smart planning and teamwork.

Barcelona-based Brito wins for a story that she’s still living, and telling, from the Ocean Viking. Embedded with a ship that last week rescued 50 migrants fleeing violence in Africa, her dispatch, “Migrant escaping Libya torture: We will go to Europe or die,” showed in stark terms the journey that for many has ended in death.

Galofaro and Whitehurst, meanwhile, share the win with a very different but no-less-gripping tale: “The rise and fall of an Eagle Scout’s deadly fentanyl empire,” about a millennial who built a million-dollar empire of mail-order fentanyl-laced pills.

For packages that brought new insight and perspective to heavily covered stories with significant global impact, Brito, Galofaro and Whitehurst win AP’s Best of the Week honors.

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March 16, 2018

Best of the States

AP analysis: NRA contributes to schools; few willing to decline the money

Major corporations were cutting ties with the National Rifle Association after the massacre at a Florida high school, but what about schools that had received grants from the gun organization? It was a natural follow to the Associated Press’ exclusive story that the alleged shooter at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School had belonged to a school JROTC program that received NRA grants.

Data journalist Meghan Hoyer dug through tax records to identify the schools that had received more than $7 million in NRA grants. Education beat team member Collin Binkley began calling recipients around the country to see if they would forgo the money. Few said they would.

For their work breaking news on a story that everyone is reporting and providing data that allowed AP members to localize the story, Binkley and Hoyer will receive this week’s Best of the States prize.

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