April 27, 2018
Best of the States
AP lands elusive first interview with two black men arrested at Starbucks
The arrest of two black men at a Starbucks in Philadelphia for sitting without ordering anything turned into a major crisis for the coffee chain and sparked a national conversation on unconscious bias and overt racism.
But the two men at the center of the controversy sought to maintain their privacy as they tried to make sense of the ordeal. They even moved to a hotel to hide out as the scandal unfolded with numerous interview requests to tell their story.
Knowing the sit-down with the men was essential, Pennsylvania Editor Larry Rosenthal pressed for an interview, noting that one conversation with AP would relieve the pressure they were feeling from so many outlets. Errin Haines Whack, the AP’s national race and ethnicity writer, followed up with a written pitch. She noted she was based in Philly and wanted to hear both their version of events and what they hoped to see moving forward. In the end, that sealed the deal.
For landing the critical interview and delivering it in multiple formats, Whack is this week’s winner of Best of the States.