Feb. 19, 2021

Best of the States

AP team finds diversity of politics and religion among West Virginia evangelicals

A tweet was the seed for this illuminating story. “Most people in my rural, Appalachian hometown are being radicalized at church by their pastor, which is the person they trust the most,” it read. AP’s Global Religion team ran with it.

Reporter Luis Andres Henao and visual journalist Jessie Wardarski visited the parishioners of three churches in Bluefield, West Virginia, including one pastor who had attended the Jan. 6 Washington rally that degenerated into a riot. The AP pair spent weeks convincing him to sit down for an interview. The result was an all-formats package of diverse congregations seeking common ground, even as they are divided on the role of evangelical Christianity in American politics. 

For applying gentle persuasion and balanced reporting to produce a nuanced look at religion and politics in one West Virginia town, Henao and Wardarski win this week’s Best of the States award. 

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Sept. 25, 2020

Best of the States

AP’s portrait of a family forced into tough choices during the pandemic

As stories with impact go, this one stands out: The lead subject of the piece, struggling to feed her family during the pandemic, was tracked down on social media and hired by a reader for a job. 

The all-formats package by reporter Luis Andres Henao and visual journalist Jessie Wardarski chronicled the struggle of Sharawn Vinson and her Brooklyn family as they coped with a shortage of food and other crises, taking readers into the lives of a family that was forced to separate to keep everyone fed. The details shared by the family give readers a better understanding of the issues confronting many of the nation’s most vulnerable during the pandemic.

For a rare, intimate look at a family on the front lines of food insecurity brought on by the coronavirus, documented with riveting photos and video, Henao and Wardarski share this week’s Best of the States award.

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March 20, 2020

Beat of the Week

(Honorable Mention)

AP exclusive interview with world’s foremost collector of Picasso

convinced David Nahmad, a publicity-shy billionaire art dealer who has accumulated over decades the world’s largest private collection of works by Pablo Picasso, to throw open his luxury Monaco home for an exclusive and rare all-formats interview about why he is selling one of his paintings for charity. Nahmad had spoken briefly to a French radio station about raffling of “Nature Morte,” painted by Picasso in 1921, but Leicester proposed that for international audiences, the billionaire should speak exclusively to AP, surrounded by some of his art collection, estimated to be worth $3 billion. The story managed to elbow its way into the news agenda dominated by virus coverage, rising to No. 8 on the list of most-viewed AP stories.https://bit.ly/3dcJoQihttps://bit.ly/2Uo8T8Zhttps://bit.ly/2WyX2Yp

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July 30, 2021

Beat of the Week

(Honorable Mention)

50 years after the US declared war on drugs, AP examines racial disparities

used data and on-the-ground reporting to explore the fallout of America’s war on drugs, launched 50 years ago this summer by President Richard Nixon.Race and ethnicity reporter Morrison, joined by data journalist Kastanis and multiformat journalist Breed, set out to tell a story of the toll that harsh prison sentences and lifetime restrictions post-release have taken on Black and Latino Americans, their families and their communities.To do so, the AP reviewed federal and state data, finding that the Black incarceration rate in America surged from about 600 per 100,000 people in 1970 to 1,808 in 2000, and the rate for the Latino population grew from 208 per 100,000 people to 615, while the white incarceration rate grew at a more modest rate, from 103 per100,000 people to 242.But beyond the data, the AP trio put names and a face to those caught up in this grinding war with no clear winners but many losers. The story’s lead subject, Alton Lucas, could have had a life of touring nationally and internationally with his DJ friend, but instead discovered drugs and the drug trade at the height of the war on drugs. As a crack cocaine addict involved in trafficking, the North Carolina man faced decades in prison at a time when the drug abuse and violence plaguing Black communities were not seen as the public health issue that opioids are today. The combination of Morrison’s deep reporting, Breed’s photos and video, and Kastanis’ data analysis, accompanied by graphics, resulted in a newsy, nuanced package, rich with historical context.https://aplink.news/k6jhttps://aplink.video/017

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July 09, 2021

Beat of the Week

(Honorable Mention)

A year later in the pandemic, AP revisits with kids across the world

reinterviewed kids from around the world about how the pandemic had changed them, one year after first asking them to describe their experience as the pandemic gripped the world. Coordinating with her international colleagues and the far-flung subjects, U.S. enterprise journalist Irvine delivered affecting video and touching interviews, giving AP’s customers and readers a window into how the pandemic had molded these young lives. Among the vignettes: An 18-year-old in California, newly vaccinated, flashes a smile and a peace sign as she poses for a prom photo with her pals. She feels strange but elated without her mask. In Australia, a girl still clings to the fluffy border collie that her family got to comfort them in the depths of last year’s lockdown last year; she recently had to shelter at home again because of a nearby COVID-19 outbreak. And a baby-faced teen in Rwanda who wanted to be a soldier has changed his mind — he now wants to be a doctor.https://aplink.news/lrohttps://aplink.news/9rnhttps://aplink.video/kgk

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June 14, 2019

Beat of the Week

(Honorable Mention)

All-formats package explores little-known world of intersex children

for delving into the world of intersex children by winning the trust of a family to tell of their struggles and triumphs in raising two such children who share male and female traits. The all-formats package brought understanding of a condition unfamiliar to most people, and perhaps empathy for the family’s children, as well as a conflicted father and a mother who wants to share her learned experience.https://bit.ly/2WJtKrahttps://bit.ly/2RgOmkC

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Oct. 30, 2020

Beat of the Week

(Honorable Mention)

Exclusive access to medics treating coronavirus – and war wounds

secured exclusive international agency access to a hospital battling coronavirus and casualties in the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict zone.Chernov and Lovetsky had been on the front line of the disputed region within Azerbaijan for more than a week when they began to see increasing numbers of people becoming sick with the coronavirus. Repeated requests to document the hospitals and clinics were rebuffed until Chernov tracked down the region’s health minister to personally request access. The minister granted permission.Wearing full protective gear carried with them from previous reporting in the Ukraine, the pair visited the main hospital in Stepanakert and found terrible scenes of suffering as coronavirus patients mixed with the war-wounded – while doctors and nurses continued to treat people despite suffering from the virus themselves. Their on-the-ground reporting was crafted into a powerful text story by Vladimir Isachenkov in Moscow and the story moved as cross-format agency exclusive the next day.https://bit.ly/3oCN57Ohttps://bit.ly/34BY9Kp

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Jan. 07, 2022

Beat of the Week

(Honorable Mention)

AP investigation: Myanmar reverts to massacres as weapon of war

used interviews with dozens of witnesses, social media, satellite imagery and data on deaths to expose a campaign of massacres conducted by Myanmar’s military.Since it took over the government last February, the Myanmar military has been escalating its violence against both the opposition and civilians, and has reverted to scorched-earth tactics as a weapon of war.Reporting out of Myanmar is difficult at the best of times, with the constant danger to sources and the lack of access. This story was particularly challenging as the reporters pulled it off in three weeks, start to finish, working through vacations and holidays. Special credit goes to AP’s stringers, who found and interviewed 40 witnesses.The team — video journalists McNeil and Jain, and Asia reporter Rising — also brought important context and understanding to the subject that comes from the AP’s previous coverage of Myanmar. They noted that the massacres and burnings signal a return to practices the military has long used against ethnic minorities such as the Muslim Rohingya — this time applied also to the Buddhist Bamar majority. In recent months, most of the massacres have happened in the country’s northwest, including in a region that is largely Bamar.The story was also timely, coming just days after a massacre of at least 35 civilians by the military on Christmas Eve.https://aplink.news/615https://aplink.video/33k

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July 19, 2019

Beat of the Week

(Honorable Mention)

AP gives world exclusive look at Epstein’s private island

for making AP the only international media organization to visit Jeffrey Epstein’s private Caribbean island and capture the mood of fear and suspicion among locals. The idyll was where he hosted celebrities, built a gold-domed temple and allegedly raped at least one of his child victims. Some locals called it “pedophile island.” The story was a hit online, including 371,000 pageviews on APNews, making it the most-read story on the site this week.https://bit.ly/2Y2AwIphttps://bit.ly/2Gmv6xY

Nov. 26, 2021

Beat of the Week

(Honorable Mention)

Masterful reporting reveals the victims of Ethiopia’s Tigray war

used a distinctive, nuanced approach to explore one of the biggest unknowns in Ethiopia’s yearlong Tigray conflict: the death toll.The story, funded by a grant from the Pulitzer Center on Crisis Reporting, went beyond the numbers, humanizing the horrific toll of the war through a Tigrayan man, Desta Haileselassie, who collects the names of the dead — a groom, a lawyer, an ambulance driver — more than 3,000 Ethnic Tigrayans confirmed so far. He reluctantly revealed to Anna that 19 members of his own family had died. Video journalist Keyton and stroytelling producer Castañeda conducted a delicate interview with Desta in Stockholm, while Anna, AP’s East Africa correspondent, attended online. The listkeeper was deeply affected by his experience but the journalists earned his trust, gently eliciting information from him while careful not to re-traumatize him.The resulting package is powerful and engaging — and balanced, noting atrocities and victims on both sides of the conflict. It introduces victims by name and goes on to tell their stories. At its most personal it focuses on Desta’s mother, whom he hasn’t been able to reach since June. Instead he listens to recordings he made of her voice.The photos and presentation by Castañeda are no less compelling as AP continues to lead coverage of the Tigray conflict despite severe restrictions on access. Readers, competitors and experts complimented this latest work, with one describing it as a “masterpiece of precision, thoughtfulness and humanity.”https://aplink.news/iduhttps://aplink.news/c90https://aplink.video/p3whttps://aplink.photos/fbs

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April 15, 2022

Best of the Week — First Winner

Perseverance lands AP interview with Ukrainian president; team in Bucha documents evidence of war crimes

With a dedication to continuing coverage of the war in Ukraine, the AP teams in and around Kyiv landed an interview with the Ukrainian president and offered a definitive all-formats chronicle of the mass killings in Bucha.

In the capital, AP journalists relentlessly pursued an interview with President Volodymyr Zelenskyy. Asia-Pacific news director Adam Schreck, video journalist Mstyslav Chernov and photographer Evgeniy Maloletka eventually sat down with the president in a bunker-like government building, the dramatic setting adding to the power of the all-formats interview.

Meanwhile, on the outskirts of Kyiv, reporter Cara Anna and a team of visual journalists brought the horror of life and death in Bucha to readers around the world, walking the streets and talking with witnesses to the murders and other abuses under Russian occupation of the town. The team saw at least a dozen uncollected bodies and talked with two dozen survivors and witnesses, each telling horrific stories.

The teams’ coverage received strong play and reader engagement, a sign that AP’s customers and audience are still keenly interested in accurate, definitive accounts of the war.

For shedding light on an increasingly dark era for Ukraine, we honor Adam Schreck, Mstyslav Chernov, Evgeniy Maloletka, Cara Anna, Oleksandr Stashevskyi, Rodrigo Abd, Vadim Ghirda and Felipe Dana as AP’s Best of the Week — First Winners.

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April 08, 2022

Best of the Week — First Winner

Ukraine visuals document an exceptionally dark chapter of the war; intelligence says aides misled Putin

AP teams have again dominated coverage of war in Ukraine on two fronts, this time in horrifying images of civilians killed in Bucha and surrounding areas outside Kyiv, and in stories out of Washington and London, where AP was first with a report that Russian President Vladimir Putin’s aides have been misleading him about the war.

Recently declassified information from a reliable source led to Washington’s scoop that Putin was reportedly “misinformed by his advisors about how badly the Russian military is performing.” AP’s story beat the competition and scored sky-high reader engagement, and a smart follow-up out of London delved into the strategic value of declassifying such intelligence.

On the ground in Ukraine, AP video and photojournalists arrived Saturday in Bucha, outside Kyiv, after Russian forces were ousted. There they found civilians lying dead in the streets, destroyed Russian military equipment and dead Russian servicemen. The following day the AP journalists were first to record the bodies of eight men who were killed execution style, as well as a mass grave and the bodies of a village mayor and her family.

The grim images define one of the darkest chapters on the war so far and raise fears of what may be unfolding in areas as yet inaccessible to journalists.

For their vital role documenting this brutal episode of the war, and for revealing reports of failures in the Kremlin’s intelligence at the highest levels, the journalism of Nebi Qena, Sasha Stashevsky, Vadim Ghirda, Andrea Rosa and Rodrigo Abd in Ukraine, Aamer Madhani and Nomaan Merchant in Washington, and Jill Lawless in London receives AP’s Best of The Week — First Winner honors.

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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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April 19, 2019

Beat of the Week

(Honorable Mention)

Venezuela’s ex-spy chief arrested in Madrid on US warrant

for breaking the news that Venezuela’s former spy chief Hugo Carvajal had been arrested in Spain on a U.S. warrant. AP was the first media to confirm the arrest and put out a sourced report with the correct details, beating all competitors and also getting a rare scoop on Spanish media in their own backyard. AP was cited across the world including by Al-Jazeera, the Miami Herald and Portugal’s Lusa news agency. https://bit.ly/2v9BToy