April 24, 2020

Best of the States

The cost of Trump environmental rollbacks: Health woes hit minority communities hardest

With African American and Hispanic communities in the Houston region already suffering higher rates of asthma and other diseases than the nation at large, AP’s Ellen Knickmeyer decided to focus on the area for a story on ordinary Americans living through the Trump administration’s public health and environmental rollbacks. 

The administration was cutting back on rules limiting and monitoring harmful industrial pollutants, slashing enforcement and weakening an industrial-disaster rule.

Knickmeyer, a Washington-based environmental issues reporter, spent months searching out Houston residents, telling their stories along with deep reporting on the regulatory actions and their consequences.

Former EPA Director Gina McCarthy was among many retweeting the story, calling it a “must read” article.

For a rich, insightful look at the consequences of the Trump administration’s regulatory rollbacks on vulnerable communities, Knickmeyer wins this week’s Best of the States award.

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Jan. 26, 2017

Best of the States

Postcards from Trump's America

Following in the wake of the Divided America series, the AP wanted to glimpse the country – the multiple Americas, joyous, dreading and uncertain – that Donald Trump would lead as the 45th president. But how to do it in a way that went beyond traditional text and instead gave customers and readers a visually engaging look at the U.S. in the time of Trump?

The answer: "Postcards from Trump's America."

A specially-selected team of reporters, photographers and videojournalists joined up to report from four distinct corners of the nation, and their work provided a unique window into what Americans are thinking and feeling at this historic pivot point.

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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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Nov. 26, 2021

Beat of the Week

(Honorable Mention)

Exclusive interview with ‘Sesame Street’s’ first Asian American muppet

scored a timely and exclusive interview with the first Asian American muppet on “Sesame Street.”Phoenix-based Tang had been watching for race-related news tied to the classic children’s television show, when Sesame Workshop, the nonprofit behind the show, reached out about giving AP the exclusive on their first ever Asian American muppet — a 7-year-old Korean American named Ji-Young.Tang knew the story would resonate after a wave of attacks against Asian Americans and calls for greater Asian American and Pacific Islander representation, and she looked forward to writing “Ji-Young told The Associated Press.” She teamed up with New York-based video journalist Noreen Nasir, who also saw the cultural importance of the story as well as the potential to have fun telling it.Nasir interviewed both Ji-Young and longtime “Sesame Street” favorite Ernie, being careful not to show the puppeteers, and snapped photos of the muppets. Then she and Tang interviewed Kathleen Kim, the Korean American puppeteer behind Ji-Young, about the impact of portraying a groundbreaking character.Tang arranged for AP to release the text story and photos exclusively at an hour when both audiences in the U.S. and Asia could wake up to the story, followed shortly by the video, generating strong interest from customers and readers.https://aplink.news/fi2https://aplink.video/blr

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May 06, 2022

Beat of the Week

(Honorable Mention)

AP explores a historic Black town vulnerable to climate change

tell the story of a historic Black town in North Carolina threatened by climate change, and its residents determined to endure and prosper.Princeville, North Carolina, the oldest town in the U.S. founded by Black Americans, has flooded many times, including two horrific disasters in recent memory: Hurricane Floyd in 1999 and Matthew in 2016. And it will flood again — likely worse under the effects of global warming.AP’s all-formats trio visited the town multiple times, talking to the people who live there and reporting on the town’s historical significance as well as its efforts to rebuild and protect. They found townspeople determined to preserve their land and legacy, seeing connections to both a shared history and a continued fight for survival.Read more

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Sept. 10, 2021

Beat of the Week

(Honorable Mention)

Distinctive reporting gives voice to fastest-growing US county

upended stereotypes with a deeply textured, intimate examination of a North Dakota community transformed by sudden growth.As part of the AP's ongoing coverage of the 2020 Census, Montana-based Brown went to McKenzie County, North Dakota — the center of the western oil boom and the fastest-growing county in the U.S. — to examine the impact of dramatic growth on a sleepy community on the western prairie. He charted the growth through the eyes of the people, from the old-timers who remembered riding horses through fields now lined with housing developments and oil wells, to newcomers finding their way into the fabric of the community.The story that emerged in Brown’s evocative words and photos came as something of a counternarrative to preconceived notions about how divided Americans are from one another. As revealed in graphics by Francois Duckett, a significant portion of McKenzie County’s newcomers are Hispanic, but many of those Brown interviewed described being embraced by the locals: the new restaurant owner helped along by customers who responded during the pandemic, or a transplanted family touched by the small-town charm of friendly faces saying hello in the grocery store.Brown’s nuanced reporting and writing gave his story a compelling narrative arc and showed the value of going to see firsthand what happens when a community is confronted with dramatic growth. https://aplink.news/bea

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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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Nov. 08, 2019

Best of the States

AP Exclusive: Closing of coal plant on tribal land upends a community and a culture

Coal-burning generating plants are closing in the U.S., and coal mines are shutting down amid worries of climate change and the new economies of renewable energy.

Against that backdrop, correspondents Felicia Fonseca and Susan Montoya Bryan traveled to Arizona’s remote Navajo Generating Station to the tell the story of workers, their families, a community and the tribal nations who have depended on coal and are feeling the profound effects of the plant’s impending closure. 

In their all-formats package, the pair let workers explain what they were losing, and how the local economy is taking a massive hit with millions of dollars of revenue no longer flowing to the Hopi and Navajo tribes.  

For a comprehensive, compelling look at the impact of coal’s decline on a community and a culture, Fonseca and Montoya earn this week’s Best of the States award. 

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May 06, 2022

Beat of the Week

(Honorable Mention)

All-formats team exposes housing crisis for college students

exposed a growing housing crisis hitting college campuses across the U.S.: A surge in the number of new students who deferred college during the worst of the COVID crisis has strained campus housing nationwide, leaving many students homeless, sleeping in cars or living in motel rooms while attending school — or causing them to further delay their education.Working with AP’s housing coverage team, San Francisco reporter Har found that while the college housing crunch may be most acute in California, it impacts college students nationwide.With video from Terry Chea and photos by Eric Risberg, digital storyteller Samantha Shotzbarger created a strong presentation that performed well both on AP platforms and with customers, but its real impact was on Facebook, where it was viewed 2.4 million times.Read more

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Aug. 20, 2021

Beat of the Week

(Honorable Mention)

AP: Climate contributing to wildfires on tropical Pacific isles

reported exclusively in all formats on climate-fueled wildfires flaring up on tropical Pacific islands from Hawaii to Micronesia, causing environmental harm from mountaintops to coral reefs.Aware of persistent wildfire problems on some of the Hawaiian Islands and Guam, Honolulu-based Jones and Jakarta, Indonesia-based Milko reported that climate change is making once-lush areas of the islands hotter, drier and more susceptible to fire. As a result, runoff from burned areas damages coral reefs, and the fires are converting critical watershed forests to grasslands that are more prone to fire in the future.While Milko reported on the situation in Guam, where the top fire official said most fires were arson, Jones traveled to the Big Island of Hawaii which was experiencing the largest wildfire in the state’s history. He shot photos and video of firefighters at work, and gained access to private Native Hawaiian homestead land where homes and vehicles were destroyed on the slopes of Mauna Kea. He spoke to residents and evacuees for a historical perspective on the drier, more volatile land, while fire officials and scientists in Honolulu explained how climate change contributes to the fires. https://aplink.news/o3nhttps://aplink.video/mny

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July 23, 2021

Best of the States

Smart prep, sharp execution put AP out front on obit of prominent civil rights leader Gloria Richardson

Among the toughest obits to write on the fly are those for people who were hugely influential but rarely heard from in their later years. AP’s Brian Witte, however, was fully prepared when he got an exclusive tip on a Friday evening that prominent civil rights figure Gloria Richardson had died at 99.

Witte, AP’s Annapolis, Maryland, correspondent, used carefully crafted, detailed prep and source work to break news of the death of the first Black woman to lead a sustained desegregation movement outside the South. Thanks in part to a striking 1963 AP photo of Richardson pushing away the bayonet of a National Guardsman, she came to symbolize fearlessness among civil rights activists.

Witte’s prep included an interview with Richardson’s biographer, building enough trust for the author to email him with first word of her death. He persuaded the biographer to share family contacts, scoring quotes that forced many outlets to cite AP. Witte’s story, linked with archival photos, hit the wire early Friday evening, beating all competition and receiving strong play.

For insightful, resourceful reporting that puts Richardson's significant legacy back in the public eye, Witte earns this week’s Best of the States award.

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Jan. 05, 2018

Best of the Week — First Winner

AP NewsBreak: US soldier fought to the end after ambush in Niger

The horror tales from Niger – as reported by some of the world’s most reputable media – were gruesome: Sgt. La David Johnson, one of four Americans who died on a mysterious U.S. Army Special Forces mission in early October, had been captured alive, tortured, killed execution-style at close range and his remains had been mutilated.

The details were all erroneous, it turned out.

It took the AP’s Pentagon reporter Lita Baldor to set the record straight with a stunning scoop on an otherwise quiet Washington Sunday in December, revealing the findings of a still confidential Pentagon report.

For an unmatched story that revealed the heroism of an American soldier who died in the line of duty, Baldor wins this week’s Beat of the Week.

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Nov. 30, 2020

Beat of the Week

(Honorable Mention)

Source work leads to scoop on largest US dam demolition

used strong source development to break news of plans for the largest dam demolition in U.S. history, affecting four massive hydroelectric dams along the Oregon-California border. Native American tribes that have fought for decades to remove the dams and restore vital salmon habitat. Flaccus had reported from the region earlier, but the coronavirus and coverage of Portland’s racial justice protests kept her from returning during the summer. Still, she followed developments and kept in touch with the key players. Her sourcing paid off when she learned recently that an announcement was imminent on plans to demolish the dams. Flaccus pushed for an embargo, reporting and writing the story in advance with the understanding of tribal leaders and the governors of Oregon and California that she would hold her story until the official announcement.Her deeply reported APNewsBreak moved 15 minutes before the official news release, detailing the restructured deal that will almost certainly lead to the largest dam demolition in U.S. history, a first step in what would also be the largest salmon recovery project in history — a project that would also rejuvenate area tribes.Oregon’s biggest newspaper didn’t try to match the story; they used Flaccus’ story and photos in their entirety. https://bit.ly/3qaV8to

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May 13, 2022

Beat of the Week

(Honorable Mention)

All-formats package: Environmental workers facing violence

teamed up to vividly illustrate why environmental work is emerging as one of the world’s most dangerous professions, as seen through the lens of one such worker in Haiti. In 2020 alone, a record 227 environmental workers were killed globally, according to one human rights organization.Daniel reported from New York while Haiti video journalist Luxama and his colleague, photographer Joseph, followed marine biologist Jean Wiener during a rare trip to his native Haiti. Wiener has been forced to do most of his conservation work from afar because of rampant violence in his homeland.With tight collaboration between AP departments and bureaus, the compelling package of text and visuals transports readers to the ominously named Massacre River as Wiener confronts climate change in a poor nation hit hard by global warming — and violence.Read more

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Dec. 17, 2021

Beat of the Week

(Honorable Mention)

AP: US envoy secretly visited Venezuela on hostage mission

combined sleuthing and great source reporting to break a story that the Biden administration was trying to keep secret: that the U.S. government's top hostage negotiator was secretly visiting Venezuela as part of an ongoing effort to secure the release of jailed Americans, including American oil executives known as the Citgo 6.The AP pair has followed the case since the 2017 detention of the oil executives. When Latin America correspondent Goodman learned that a U.S. government flight was traveling toward Venezuela, he flagged it to Washington-based national security reporter Tucker, who quickly confirmed with sources that the plane was carrying Roger Carstens, the U.S. government’s special presidential envoy for hostage affairs. They spent the next several days reporting the details of Carstens’ visit. Goodman pressed multiple sources to learn Carstens visited American detainees behind bars and had also met with aides to Venezuelan President Nicolás Maduro.Tucker, who has a history of reporting on hostage and detainee cases, then landed an exclusive interview with Carstens after he was safely out of Venezuela. The envoy shared first-hand details of his visit with the prisoners.The result was a vivid tale of the first known face-to-face outreach in Venezuela by a senior U.S. official since at least 2019. It earned widespread attention from CNN, which gave AP prominent credit, and other major news outlets. The story was even bigger in Venezuela and elsewhere in Latin and South America. And while others eventually reported their own stories, they did not get Carstens. His lone interview was with AP. https://aplink.news/i7u

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Oct. 08, 2021

Beat of the Week

(Honorable Mention)

AP reveals Alaska tribes in crisis as salmon runs disappear

documented the plight of remote Alaska Native tribes facing a lean winter because the once bountiful salmon runs on the Yukon River have all but stopped, likely due to climate change.Freelance photographer Howard traveled to Stevens Village, more than 300 miles north of Anchorage along the Yukon. He made striking images and drone video as hunters tracked moose and caribou, hoping to get enough to replace what would usually be a large bounty of salmon dried and smoked for winter months. The hunters worked nearly around the clock, even cleaning and gutting moose under the northern lights.Flaccus reported from Oregon, describing how tribal members are upset they haven’t received more help from state and federal authorities. Some feel their plight isn’t getting as much attention as farmers, ranchers and others affected by climate change in the lower 48.The pair’s vivid text and photo package led reader engagement for the weekend and was near the top in pageviews for the same period.https://aplink.news/ndm

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Aug. 16, 2019

Beat of the Week

(Honorable Mention)

AP team defies lockdown to report in all formats from Kashmir

for braving security restrictions and overcoming a complete communication lockdown to report in all formats on life under siege from Indian-administered Kashmir.When New Delhi moved Aug. 5 to revoke the Himalayan region of its statehood, all lines to the outside world were severed. With a strict curfew in place the AP crew overnighted in the office, but transmission in any format was a challenge. Defying the crackdown on movement and filming, the team managed to send photos, video and text with a passenger on a flight to Delhi.Meanwhile, Saaliq, a native Kashmiri himself, spoke to people struggling to buy necessities and to those injured during sporadic protests. His story, some of which he dictated over the phone from a Srinagar hotel, was one of the first reports in the international media that allowed Kashmiri voices to be heard after the dramatic developments. Hussain followed with personal stories of how Kashmiris were coping with life surrounded by armed police and paramilitary soldiers. And with short windows of internet access and many trips to the airport, the AP team managed to move words and images of thousands of protesters, including a widely used photo of a group of women marching after Friday prayers, and security forces patrolling the city. The lockdown continues. While some local media have suggested normalcy has returned to Kashmir, AP offers a critical counter narrative grounded in dogged reporting to show the world what is happening in the disputed region.https://bit.ly/31EKii3https://bit.ly/2H8adH7https://bit.ly/3063jJV

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Oct. 30, 2020

Best of the States

AP breaks news on the opioid epidemic and Purdue Pharma, with focus on victims

AP reporters from three different teams broke distinctive, significant stories on the continuing drug overdose crisis in the U.S., which has been overshadowed this year by the coronavirus pandemic:

— A state-level report showing that overdose deaths are on pace to reach an all-time high this year, and that overdoses increased after the virus began spreading in the U.S.— An accountability story on President Donald Trump’s handling of the opioid crisis, and how the issue has been overlooked in the presidential race.— A major scoop on a settlement between the federal government and Purdue Pharma, complete with details of criminal charges and the $8 billion settlement. 

But the depth of coverage didn’t end with the major news beats. All three stories put victims at the center of the reporting. 

For revealing stories that broke news and provided a powerful reminder of an ongoing epidemic that has contributed to the deaths of more than 470,000 Americans, Mike Stobbe, Adrian Sainz, Farnoush Amiri, Geoff Mulvihill, Meghan Hoyer and Michael Balsamo win this week’s Best of the States award.

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Nov. 12, 2021

Beat of the Week

(Honorable Mention)

Only on AP: The path to extremism in Pakistan — and the US

demonstrated the power of AP’s global footprint and expertise, digging into two case studies of radicalized individuals — one in the United States, seen prominently in the Jan. 6 attack on the U.S. Capitol, and one in Pakistan. The trio’s reporting revealed some striking commonalities between the Islamic extremism so feared by many Americans and the homegrown U.S. movements that led to the insurrection.Reporting on their subjects through family members, Kansas City, Missouri-based Hollingsworth interviewed the brother of Jan. 6 suspect Doug Jensen three times over the course of months, while Gannon, who has covered the process of radicalization for years as news director for Afghanistan and Pakistan, plumbed sources she developed with the late Anja Niedringhaus more than a decade ago. She delved into the life of Wahab, a young Pakistani man, from the vantage point of his uncle.National security reporter Tucker, meanwhile, reviewed documents, did source reporting and consulted experts to weave it all together, fragment by fragment.The result was “Paths to Radicalization,” an Only on AP story exploring each man’s pivot into extremism. Despite obvious differences between the two men, the piece reveals common elements, not only in how people absorb extremist ideology but also in how they feed off grievances and mobilize to action. Extremist thinking is not necessarily an “other” thing; it can happen anywhere through similar means.The story remained at the top of AP News for nearly an entire day with high reader engagement while receiving play from major news outlets, online and in print, as well as on social media. Tucker also discussed the piece in an interview with San Francisco’s KCBS.https://aplink.news/l41https://omny.fm/shows/kcbsam-o...

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Oct. 23, 2020

Best of the States

Amid heightened racial tensions, ‘Looking for America’ series examines ‘sundown towns’

Many white Americans have likely never heard of “sundown towns,” where Black people were once forbidden after dark. So Tim Sullivan, Noreen Nasir and Maye-E Wong visited one such town, Vienna, Illinois, on the second stop in AP’s “Looking for America” series, to see how it is faring in a year marked by racial protests.

While there is no longer a rule against Black people in Vienna after sunset, the habit persists for many out of fear and tradition. With deep reporting and compelling visuals, the AP team captured a lingering racial divide that is obvious to some people but virtually invisible to others. 

For a probing but nuanced package that speaks to a thread of systemic racism, the all-formats team of Sullivan, Nasir and Wong earns this week’s Best of the States award.

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