May 01, 2020

Best of the States

AP Exclusive: All-formats access to a lifesaving New York emergency room

With coronavirus infection and death rates mounting, hospitals in the New York City area imposed strict guidelines allowing only a small handful of media outlets limited access. After weeks of reaching out to hospitals, St. Joseph’s in Yonkers agreed to give the AP access to its emergency room and screening tent. 

But only one journalist would be allowed into the hospital. Versatile New York staff photographer John Minchillo was an easy choice.

Once inside in full protective gear, Minchillo connected with the hospital staff, who also granted access to the intensive care unit. He made the most of the next four hours, working in all formats to capture the mundane and the extreme, including the dramatic moments when a COVID-19 patient in cardiac arrest was saved. Turned around virtually overnight, Minchillo’s all-formats package was heavily played by major media outlets.

For his powerful, comprehensive all-formats storytelling that takes us inside medical workers’ daily fight save lives against the coronavirus, John Minchillo wins AP’s Best of States Award.

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Nov. 03, 2023

Best of the Week — First Winner

New England staff, Investigations join forces to cover tense search for a killer in Maine

It started as a vague alert of a shooting in Maine. But within minutes of learning about it, Portland-based correspondent David Sharp had guidance that at least 16 people were dead. He knew that would make it the state’s deadliest shooting by far.

Even before the first AP alert went out, Sharp and Robert Bukaty were headed to Lewiston, where a gunman had opened fire in a bowling area and bar and then vanished into the night. They were the first national news crew to arrive, coming up live for video and filing the first images of the aftermath.

Sharp’s video interview with a shoeless man who hid in the machinery of the bowling alley as people died around him was among the first eyewitness accounts, getting wide usage by clients including The New York Times.

Ultimately, 18 people would die, and residents would stay locked inside their homes for days.

Throughout the following days, a crew of journalists shared responsibilities and information in Lewiston and beyond, including AP’s breaking news investigations team of Bernard Condon and Jim Mustian who exclusively reported that Maine police were alerted as recently as September to “veiled threats” by the U.S. Army reservist.

AP’s story, which was matched — with credit — over the next day by both The New York Times and CNN, marked the most detailed reporting yet on the contact law enforcement had with the gunman, who killed himself.

The cross-format, cross-department collaboration on this story was flawless and a demonstration of AP at its best. For aggressive breaking news reporting and investigations, we are delighted to award New England’s staff, Mike Balsamo, Alanna Durkin Durkin Richer, Lindsay Whitehurst, Condon and Mustian for the Best of the Week Award — First Winner.

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Jan. 06, 2023

Best of the Week — First Winner

AP sportswriter breaks news of Pelé's death

Brazil sportswriter Mauricio Savarese had been preparing for the death of soccer legend Pelé for months, if not years. When it happened, he and his colleagues from all formats delivered a huge win for AP.

Savarese long had been building sources close to Pelé, from among his current and former agents, friends and family of the three-time World Cup winner considered by many as the greatest player ever.

The 82-year-old Pelé was hospitalized in November to treat ailments related to colon cancer. Through sources, Savarese learned that Pelé's condition was critical and that his death could occur at any minute. Colleagues across all formats mobilized to put finishing touches on the preparedness, from the main obituary to stories looking at every aspect of Pelé's life and accomplishments, to video, lives and photo packages.

For extraordinary preparation and source development to beat all competitors on a sports story of major importance globally, Savarese earns Best of the Week – First Winner.

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Feb. 18, 2022

Beat of the Week

(Honorable Mention)

Family trusts AP with news of filmmaker Ivan Reitman’s death

landed a clean scoop on the death of director-producer Ivan Reitman thanks to her reputation for professionalism on the film beat. Los Angeles-based Bahr received a call from a source during the Super Bowl, saying the 75-year-old Reitman had died and the family trusted her to break the story. That set Bahr and AP into motion on an obit that made news, even on a busy Sunday night. Read more

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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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Oct. 22, 2021

Beat of the Week

(Honorable Mention)

Exclusive, all-formats interview with John Kerry breaks news

landed an exclusive all-formats interview with U.S. climate envoy John Kerry just weeks before a critical global climate conference, breaking news on the administration’s limited expectations for the meeting and Kerry’s concerns about the stalled infrastructure bill. The piece showcased ”The AP Interview,” a series of sit-downs with key newsmakers.Knickmeyer had long sought a Kerry interview and the timing was ideal in the run-up to the Glasgow, Scotland, conference, but the Washington reporter was promised only 15 minutes with the former secretary of state. Knowing Kerry’s decades of experience in fielding reporters’ questions and managing interviews, Knickmeyer prepared extensively to ensure a revealing interview. She honed a handful of concise, targeted, hard-to-deflect questions after consulting with outside climate experts and AP colleagues.

When the time came, Knickmeyer pressed Kerry for specific answers, politely but repeatedly interrupting when he sought to move the conversation to more upbeat topics. In the short interview she asked variations of the question on Biden’s climate legislation four times. Kerry’s comments represented a swing to a more realistic assessment of the trouble facing Biden’s signature climate initiatives, and the global impact.The resulting all-formats package — including video shot by Huff and edited by Brown — had impact, with many news outlets using AP’s content directly, and others citing AP’s work in their own reporting. Washington reporters pressed administration officials on Kerry’s comments to AP for days.https://aplink.news/t4ahttps://aplink.video/63u

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June 04, 2021

Beat of the Week

(Honorable Mention)

Sourcing, research break new details in secretive Jolie-Pitt divorce

teamed up to act on a tip about an Angelina Jolie court filing in her divorce from actor Brad Pitt, revealing new details and providing a rare look into one of Hollywood's highest profile divorces, which has been kept mostly secret due to the actors’ use of a private judge.Using a combination of source work and court research, the AP pair reported that Jolie has sought to disqualify the judge who is deciding child custody in the case, saying in her filing that he refused to allow the couple’s children to testify, declining to hear evidence relevant to the children’s safety and well-being before issuing a tentative ruling. The documents don’t elaborate on what that evidence may be.The story was was widely credited to AP by outlets like Page 6, People magazine, Vanity Fair and more. https://bit.ly/3vSYvHM

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Jan. 15, 2021

Beat of the Week

(Honorable Mention)

Source work breaks news of attorney general nominee

had been asking around for weeks about President-elect Joe Biden’s choice for attorney general. They pressed their sources inside the transition once it became clear that the decision came down to just a few names.Finally, Tucker scored — a transition source gave AP the entire slate of nominees for the department, and not just the stunning choice of Merrick Garland, the former candidate for the Supreme Court who had been spurned by Republicans during the Obama administration. Also included were names for the second in command and leaders of top offices at the Department of Justice.Tucker had prepped for this and gathered his material while Balsamo checked in with another source and came back with confirmation. They swiftly filed a news alert and story, beating major news outlets by a solid half-hour. This all came two hours before the Capitol siege. The pair’s story was still picked up 580 times with some 200,000 pageviews — especially strong considering the U.S. Capitol was ransacked by rioters the same day. https://bit.ly/2XCjOOe

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Nov. 13, 2020

Best of the States

Tenacious source work leads to national newsbreak on census fraud

The on-the-record accounts from two census workers were stunning: Under pressure from supervisors amid the Trump administration’s push to bring the census to an end, they were encouraged to falsify records in the 2020 headcount.

Whom did they reveal this to? Not surprisingly, they spoke to Mike Schneider, AP’s authority on the census, who leveraged months of source development and reporting to break the story. Posted just an hour before the presidential race was called for former Vice President Joe Biden, the story still broke through with strong play and reader engagement.

For keeping the AP ahead in a critical coverage area with a terrific scoop, Schneider wins this week’s Best of the States award.

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Sept. 11, 2020

Beat of the Week

(Honorable Mention)

Breaking news from NBA’s suspended playoffs

teamed up to break news from the NBA’s “Disney bubble” as teams suspended play over racial justice issues. Reynolds got the only on-the-record interview with an executive board member of the National Basketball Players Association, speaking with Andre Iguodala on the day that players decided that they would remain isolated at Walt Disney World and continue the postseason despite the protests.

The interview followed Reynolds’ scoop that the NBA’s owners had called an emergency meeting and that a three-hour meeting between players and coaches led to no consensus on how to go forward. The interview with Iguodala, and supplemental reporting by his colleague Mahoney, led to AP being able to break the news that teams would resume practice Friday and playing games Saturday.https://bit.ly/2Zsl7R7https://bit.ly/33fyFk6https://bit.ly/2RjPqVvhttps://bit.ly/3bJ5XvI

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Sept. 04, 2020

Beat of the Week

(Honorable Mention)

Profile examines Sharpton’s presence in a new era of activism

delivered an exclusive multiformat profile about how the man who helped popularize the 1980s cry, “No justice, no peace,” has put himself at the center of a new wave of activism, in a new millennium. The package captured the complex qualities that make up Sharpton, who is revered by activists he has helped groom and families of countless victims of police and vigilante violence, but who has fierce critics, too. The profile, examining both his triumphs and his missteps, helped set up AP’s coverage of the March on Washington later in the week.https://bit.ly/34YcAsQhttps://bit.ly/3hTWioi

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July 24, 2020

Best of the Week — First Winner

Global package launches new multiformat AP series: ‘Small Business Struggles’

Small businesses – critical to the health of the global economy – are clearly being hit hard by the pandemic. Over the next six months to a year, Associated Press journalists around the world will chronicle their fight for survival, in an ambitious series called “Small Business Struggles.”

The first piece, anchored by national writer Adam Geller with a rich digital presentation by video editor Samantha Shotzbarger, got the project off to an incredible start. With contributions in all formats from more than two dozen staffers worldwide, the story brought readers into the agonizing decisions business owners face as they try to stay afloat. The package led the AP News site and was used by digital, print and video customers around the world. 

For pulling together the opening salvo in this immersive and significant global project, Geller and Shotzbarger share AP’s Best of the Week.

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Oct. 19, 2016

Best of the States

Following Hoboken crash, AP team shows NJ Transit leads country in safety violations

After a New Jersey commuter train crashed into the Hoboken station, killing one woman and injuring more than 100 people, it became clear that there would be no quick answer to what caused the accident. But that didn’t stop East Social Media Editor Michael Sisak from wanting to know more about the deeper issues plaguing New Jersey Transit.

Sisak began diving into federal data and, working with New York-based freelancer Michael Balsamo and Newark reporter David Porter, discovered that the transit agency had paid more in fines for safety violations than any other commuter railroad in the country over the past five years. It also had a significantly higher accident rate than the rest of the nation’s 10 largest commuter railroads.

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Feb. 17, 2017

Best of the States

Herbert dominates multiformat tornado coverage

When New Orleans staff photographer Gerald Herbert heard reports of a tornado touchdown 50 miles away, outside of New Orleans, he jumped into his truck and headed out of town to get a head start on coverage of the damage. Within minutes he changed direction when another twister touched down inside New Orleans itself.

Over the next few hours, Herbert was a one man journalism machine, filing to photos, video, text, radio and even securing dramatic UGC. Herbert wins this week’s $300 Best of the States award.

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