April 21, 2017

Best of the Week — First Winner

Must-read stories: UN sex abuse, El Faro sinking share Beat of the Week honors

The stories could not be more different. One revealed that United Nations peacekeepers had been accused of thousands of instances of sexual abuse over 12 years. The other recounted the last hours of a doomed freighter and its crew, as they sailed into a hurricane.

But both of these AP stories – by Paisley Dodds and Jason Dearen, respectively – drew extraordinary notice, captivating readers in a busy news week. And in a departure from usual practice, the two contrasting stories, a hard-hitting investigation and a powerful narrative, are being recognized as co-winners of the Beat of the Week.

Aug. 31, 2017

Best of the States

AP delivers total coverage of total eclipse, readers respond

By the time the moon began to block the sun for millions of Americans on August 21, Marcia Dunn, Seth Borenstein, Gillian Flaccus, Marshall Ritzel and many others across the AP had told the world just about everything there was to know about the event with a series of text stories, photos, videos and animations organized and coordinated by Stephanie Nano and Raghu Vadarevu. Stories included what scientists were hoping to learn, what ancient peoples thought of eclipses, how to protect your eyes, how eclipses work, how businesses were taking advantage of the big day, and more.

For leading the effort on a sparkling package that made full use of the AP’s national reach and expertise in all formats to explore a story of enormous national interest, this week’s $300 Best of the States prize is shared by Dunn, Borenstein, Flaccus and Ritzel.

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Sept. 08, 2017

Best of the Week — First Winner

Toxic waste sites flooded; AP on the scene ahead of EPA

Hurricane Harvey inundated homes, flooded freeways and swamped entire neighborhoods. Florida-based reporter Jason Dearen, who was deployed to Houston to help cover the disaster, knew there might be something else submerged beneath the turbid floodwaters. Superfund sites, some of the nation’s most contaminated places, are scattered along the low-lying Gulf coastline, including in the Houston area.

Dearen had been trying to obtain a copy of a federal study about the risks of flooding at those sites from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, but had been stonewalled for two weeks. Harvey’s destruction provided new urgency to his request. For help, he reached out to Washington investigative reporter Michael Biesecker, a fellow member of the AP’s environmental beat team.

Through creative reporting that relied on data, collaboration and Dearen’s newfound skills as a boat man, they became the first journalists to report on the extent of flooding at contaminated waste sites in and around Houston. The on-site observations by Dearen and freelance 360-video producer Claudia Prat raised concerns that some of the decades-old toxic stew left over from the oil, gas and chemical industries may have mixed with floodwaters. They also were on the ground – and on the water – before the EPA’s own inspectors. For their efforts, Dearen, Biesecker and Prat win Beat of the Week.

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Jan. 19, 2018

Best of the Week — First Winner

AP NewsBreak: AP scoops everyone on ICE's 7-Eleven hiring sweep, biggest raid under Trump

Associated Press reporter Elliot Spagat has spent years covering the U.S.-Mexico border, building sources within the federal agencies that enforce the nation’s immigration laws and earning the respect of senior officials.

That source work paid off when Spagat scored an exclusive ride-along as federal agents executed what officials called the largest immigration action against an employer under Donald Trump’s presidency: An early-morning sweep of nearly 100 7-Eleven stories that targeted the stores’ owners, rather than the workers.

One U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement official said the operation was “a harbinger of what’s to come” for employers.

For his efforts to put AP ahead of the competition (some news organizations cited AP while their own reporters rushed to confirm the story), Spagat wins this week’s Beat of the Week prize.

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Jan. 19, 2018

Best of the States

Strong sourcing, teamwork put AP ahead on offshore drilling news

For Tallahassee reporter Gary Fineout, the first day of the legislative session began with the usual pomp and circumstance, and Gov. Rick Scott’s annual state of the state speech. From there it took a quick turn.

A source in Scott’s office called Fineout at around 4 p.m. to say that Secretary of Interior Ryan Zinke would be flying in from Atlanta to meet with the governor – and both would be willing to talk to the media afterward. Fineout immediately emailed Matthew Daly in Washington, who covers Interior, and who had tapped into a key political problem in the Trump administration' recently announced offshore drilling plan: Republican governors were not on board.

At around 6 p.m. Zinke and Scott strode through Tallahassee’s small airport and dropped the news that Florida would be removed from the administration’s oil drilling plan. Before the two officials stopped talking, Fineout emailed Daly in D.C. to let him know the news that would soon create a torrent of criticism from other states that oppose the oil drilling plan. By the time Fineout got back to his car in the parking lot, Daly was moving the news alert.

Daly and Fineout’s model of teamwork put AP so far ahead some in the competition didn’t bother to catch up. For their initiative and coordinated effort to give AP an important beat, Fineout and Daly share this week’s Best of the States prize.

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March 02, 2018

Best of the States

Texas effort to streamline hurricane recovery backfires

As the six-month mark approached of Hurricane Harvey hitting Texas, Austin Administrative Correspondent Will Weissert and Fort Worth Correspondent Emily Schmall teamed up to report exclusively that the state’s decision to lead housing recovery – meant to be faster and better than anything the federal government could muster – was actually resulting in backlogs that made the chaotic response after 2005’s Hurricane Katrina look good by comparison.

Acting on a tip, the duo dug into federal records and added field reporting to produce a multi-format report showing that delay by the governor, and the state land office’s steep learning curve, meant temporary shelter and quick-fix home repair programs were rolling out at a startlingly slow pace.

For excellent sourcing and taking a deeper look at Texas’ hurricane recovery process, Weissert and Schmall share this week’s Best of the States prize.

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March 09, 2018

Best of the States

APNewsBreak: Phone tip leads to shady company linked to border wall contract

The short Associated Press story out of San Diego about the first border wall contract awarded under the Trump administration made only a brief mention of the Omaha, Nebraska, company that had won the contract. But that prompted a woman to call the AP. She made several claims to Chicago-based Central Desk editor Jeff McMurray without offering proof, but he figured it was interesting enough to pass along. Omaha breaking news staffer Margery Beck was asked to check into the company.

As Beck examined state business records and court documents, she discovered that the company, SWF Constructors, operated at the same address as another business that had been sued a dozen times, including at least three times by the federal government, for failing to pay subcontractors on government projects. That company, Coastal Environmental Group, was also the subject of an Interior Department audit questioning $2 million in billing for a Superstorm Sandy cleanup contract.

For aggressive records-based reporting that resulted in a timely story no one else had, Beck receives this week’s Best of the States award.

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March 04, 2022

Best of the Week — First Winner

AP’s team in Ukraine delivers unparalleled coverage of Russian invasion

From images of a young girl killed by shelling to an eyewitness account of a makeshift maternity ward inside a bomb shelter, AP’s team of more than two dozen journalists across Ukraine documented for the world in vivid detail how the Russian invasion is playing out on the ground.

The all-formats coverage began as Russian troops massed at Ukraine’s borders and has not let up since the assault began more than a week ago.

AP staffers across the world have been vital in explaining the economic, political and social repercussions of the war, but the journalists in Ukraine have been the anchor — setting AP’s coverage apart, delivering memorable images and authoritative text as the story develops by the hour.For tenacity and bravery in chronicling the Russian invasion, the team in Ukraine earns the respect and gratitude of their colleagues worldwide and is AP’s Best of the Week — First Winner.

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March 11, 2022

Beat of the Week

(Honorable Mention)

AP journalists deliver global coverage of dire UN climate report

definitively examined, from six continents and in all formats, the impact of climate change, merging the science behind a major — and sobering — United Nations report with the voices of people who are living it.Weeks before the Feb. 28 release, climate news director Peter Prengaman, reporters Seth Borenstein and Frank Jordans, both veterans of climate coverage, and Stockholm-based video journalist David Keyton brainstormed the plan, putting AP’s global footprint to use: Instead of just one big, all-formats story — the norm for previous reports by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change — AP would use the report as a jumping-off point to explore the state of climate change from each continent. Read more

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June 03, 2022

Beat of the Week

(Honorable Mention)

Exclusive coverage of Haitian migrants ashore in Cuba

delivered exclusive all-formats coverage as a single dilapidated vessel that set out for the United States carrying 842 Haitians landed instead on the coast of central Cuba. The migrants, who had been abandoned at sea, appeared to be the largest group yet in a swelling exodus of people fleeing widespread gang violence and instability in Haiti.Video journalist Gonzalez and photographer Espinosa captured images that showed the distress and fatigue in the faces of the migrants, some of them women with small children and even a newborn baby. Producer Duran was instrumental in working with the Cuban authorities and medical team to get unrestricted access to the migrants while feeding information and interviews to Rodriguez, who crafted the text story in Havana.Read more

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Aug. 05, 2022

Beat of the Week

(Honorable Mention)

Rare access to barrier islands reveals loss of pelican habitat

reported from the ground, the water and from the air to document the impact of climate change and land loss on the vanishing island breeding grounds of Louisiana’s brown pelicans, as well as the people and other wildlife that depend on this coastal ecosystem.After obtaining permission to visit the off-limits barrier islands, the all-formats trio revealed in words and striking visuals the effects of erosion and sea level rise on the coastal habitat and Louisiana’s saltwater marshes, and what remains to be lost: Louisiana’s state bird, the brown pelican, brought back over decades from the edge of extinction.Read more

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Aug. 12, 2022

Beat of the Week

(Honorable Mention)

AP: As imperiled species recover, some pose threat to others

reported exclusively and in all formats on a little-noticed ripple effect of saving endangerd wildlife: Some formerly imperiled species such as bald eagles, gray seals and merlin falcons are harming the recovery of others in dire shape by outcompeting them for food and living space.Studying scientific papers, interviewing experts and reporting from field — where researchers were using a robotic owl — the journalists found the pattern was showing up repeatedly. It didn’t mean conservation laws and programs were flawed, biologists said, but it showed that rescuing individual species wasn’t always enough — ecosystems need protection as well.Read more

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Oct. 07, 2022

Beat of the Week

(Honorable Mention)

All-formats teamwork delivers standout AP hurricane coverage

collaborated across formats while overcoming difficult access and logistical hurdles to produce fast, distinctive, widely used coverage of the devastation caused by Hurricane Ian in South Florida and South Carolina.From breaking news to enterprise pieces to an array of compelling video and photos, AP’s sweeping coverage received extraordinary play across formats, used by major broadcast, print and online outlets.Read more

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Nov. 04, 2022

Beat of the Week

(Honorable Mention)

10 years after Sandy, AP looks ahead to the next superstorm

teamed up for enterprising coverage to mark the 10th anniversary of Superstorm Sandy, looking at the recovery from Sandy and how the nation prepares for major storms to come.The all-formats coverage included an examination of what remains to be done in the Northeast and the across the nation as sea levels rise and severe storms become more common; survivors’ post-storm experiences — not just after Sandy — revealing that the nation’s disaster response system is broken and needs reform to get money into victims’ hands more quickly; and an in-depth look at inequity in the distribution of post-storm aid and resources.Read more

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Jan. 13, 2023

Best of the Week — First Winner

AP photographers paint definitive portrait of epic, historic vote for House speaker

Some likened it to a Renaissance painting – and it certainly belongs in a museum. We’re talking, of course, about Andrew Harnik’s indelible images of a tussle in Congress as a historic House speaker vote threatened to stretch into another week.

As Republicans struggled through 14 fruitless rounds of voting against an internal faction of rebels to elect Kevin McCarthy as House Speaker, the longest such struggle in a century, nerves were fraying.

But AP’s photographers in the chamber remained cool as ever.

Normally, photographers’ access in the House chamber is heavily restricted by the speaker’s office – but with no speaker, the photo team was able to take full advantage of a House with no rules. Able to freely roam the chamber and capture up-close moments, the team shot more than 14,000 images for review and editing. Over the four days of voting, 1,500 images moved to AP’s audiences.

Alex Brandon captured an image of Rep. Matt Gaetz, one of the last anti-McCarthy holdouts, talking tensely with McCarthy after the 14th vote. With most cameras trained on McCarthy, Harnik captured an unbelievable-if-it-weren’t-on-camera near-brawl, as Rep. Mike Rogers started to charge toward Gaetz – only to be pulled back by Rep. Richard Hudson.

That image, which quickly became iconic, and the work of the others in the AP photo team, earns Best of the Week – First Winner honors for Harnik, Applewhite, Brandon, Cortez, Kaster, Rourke and Walsh.

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Jan. 27, 2023

Beat of the Week

(Honorable Mention)

All-formats interview with Yellen in Africa yields sharp comments on US debit limit impasse

, a treasury reporter in Washington, spent weeks negotiating a commitment for a rare all-formats interview with Janet Yellen during the treasury secretary’s visit to Africa. The interview couldn’t have happened at a better time, as Yellen took questions from AP in Senegal just two days after announcing the U.S. government had bumped up against its debt limit and would need to use “extraordinary measures” to avoid default.Read more.

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