Oct. 20, 2023

Best of the Week — First Winner

AP reporters jump to cover Hamas rampage and sudden new Israel-Hamas war 

The first word came at 6:25 a.m., Oct. 7 local time: Red alerts were issued via WhatsApp for several locations in Israel. Sirens could be heard in Tel Aviv. AP journalists saw rockets being shot from Rafah in Gaza towards Israel. Then word filtered in from the Israeli army that there were numerous security breaches in central and southern Israel. More rockets fell, with Israeli ambulances dispatched to areas where residents had reported strikes. Taken together, it told of an ominous new day in the region. 

The first of what would be many AP news alerts moved 20 minutes later: Israel says Palestinian militants have infiltrated into Israeli territory from Gaza. 

What unfolded over the days was massive in its scope: The militant armed group Hamas executed a well-planned surprise attack on what would normally be a joyful holiday, Simchat Torah.

The Israeli army, caught off guard, struggled for days to regain control of the invaded towns. Israel released counterstrikes into Gaza, killing hundreds. Over the next 10 days the toll would rise to thousands dead in Gaza and in Israel.

Throughout the conflict, the teams in Israel and Gaza worked with courage, determination and excellence under extremely challenging circumstances to report on the painful events affecting them and their families. They earn Best of the Week — First Winner.

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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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Oct. 27, 2023

Best of the Week — First Winner

Special Citation: Israel-Hamas War coverage

Since Oct. 7, Associated Press staff in Gaza and Israel have worked tirelessly to cover the war — and to go beyond the news with deep, impactful coverage.

From live feeds and NR/CR videos to powerful photographs, text stories, audio and interactives, the Associated Press has written the first draft of history by covering the spot news around the clock — and by going deeper with resonant journalism about individuals directly affected by the war. These stories are written by colleagues who themselves have evacuated their homes and struggle to get food and water, by colleagues for whom air raid sirens have become a part of daily life.

Outside of the region, colleagues have written thoughtful analysis and all-formats takeouts on the broader resonance of the Israel-Hamas war. They’ve edited text, photos and video and worked to ensure that our standards are met throughout the report.

Because of that work across the AP, we this week honor all of those colleagues who’ve contributed to the urgency, breadth and depth of the report across all formats in our coverage of the Israel-Hamas war with a Special Citation, most especially those in the region.

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Oct. 23, 2023

Beat of the Week

(Honorable Mention)

Man with handgun seeking governor arrested in Wisconsin Capitol, returns with assault rifle

AP, cultivating sources on a highly competitive beat, broke two major Statehouse stories: an armed man came to the Wisconsin Capitol twice looking for the governor, and on Friday after 5 p.m. a state Supreme Court justice being targeted for impeachment if she heard a redistricting case decided not to recuse and cast the deciding vote for the court to hear it.

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Oct. 06, 2023

Best of the Week — First Winner

Last living suspect in 1996 drive-by shooting of Tupac Shakur indicted in Las Vegas on murder charge

It was in mid-July when Las Vegas reporters Rio Yamat and Ken Ritter began working their sources, after the police raided the home of a suspect in connection with an investigation into the 1996 killing of rapper Tupac Shakur. The result months later was a super scoop on a riveting story nearly three decades in the making.

Through their deep and extensive sourcing in law enforcement and criminal justice, Yamat and Ritter sought to penetrate a grand jury case shrouded in secrecy. For months, they regularly contacted everyone who was likely involved. It all paid off when they learned they should prepare for an indictment in mid-September. From there, it was a lesson in patience and persistence.

After months where Yamat and Ritter attended court hearings and drafted prep for a potential break, Yamat began hearing rumblings an indictment was imminent. She and Ritter were able to nail down the next morning from multiple sources with firsthand knowledge that Duane “Keffe D” Davis had been taken into custody on suspicion of murder in Tupac's killing.

They broke the news at 9:27 a.m. PDT. The alert published 93 minutes before the court convened for grand jury returns when the indictment would be made public.

For dogged reporting and deep source work that allowed AP to dominate a story that’s mystified fans for decades, Yamat and Ritter are this week’s Best of the Week — First Winner.

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Sept. 29, 2023

Best of the Week — First Winner

AP secures intimate access to Ukraine’s counteroffensive 

The Associated Press spent two weeks with a Ukrainian assault brigade for an intimate glimpse into the speed, direction and cost of the counteroffensive to regain Bakhmut. 

Mstyslav Chernov’s reporting was unparalleled and gathered at great risk. He spent two weeks with members of the brigade and even accompanied a commander as he raised the Ukrainian flag in a village under shelling. Using self-shot material, drone footage and helmet camera video Chernov wove together the narrative of the brigade’s struggle. Viewers were taken on their journey and exposed to the stark realities of the war — foxholes, close-quarter gun battles, trauma and death. 

Global investigations correspondent Lori Hinnant, reporting from Paris, brought this story alive in words with a gripping blow-by-blow account of what the men had to go through, while photographer Alex Babenko and producer Volodymyr Yurchuk also helped put the stunning package together. 

The story’s timing was perfect, coming just as Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy was trying to build support for the Ukrainian counteroffensive at the United Nations and was also among the most engaged of the entire week at a time, showing the importance of continuing to bear witness. 

For securing unparalleled access and taking great personal risk to produce an intimate picture of Ukraine’s frontline, Chernov and Hinnant are awarded Best of the Week — First Winner.

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Sept. 22, 2023

Best of the Week — First Winner

AP’s team reporting alerts the world to Libya’s disastrous floods

Years of reporting on Libya from afar and a local freelancer’s willingness to travel treacherous roads allowed AP’s team to alert the world about a disaster of massive proportions, after heavy floods burst two dams above the city of Derna, washing away and killing thousands.

It took nearly 24 hours for news to emerge from Libya of the deadly floods. But with the country divided between rival governments with spotty records for accuracy, it was tricky to grasp the extent of the devastation.

When one of the governments reported more than 2,000 dead and counting, Libya video producer Adel Omran was the first to alert the team, after which Cairo reporter Samy Magdy called contacts in the health care and aid community, who confirmed that toll and said it was likely to rise.

Misrata-based freelance photographer Yousef Murad drove hours to the scene, sending an initial dispatch showing mass burials for the rising number of bodies. On the ground, Murad faced difficult conditions and lack of basic amenities as the stench of death overtook the city. His subsequent stories documented the immense recovery effort and the stories of survivors.

For their harrowing work revealing a complex story of disaster and recovery, Magdy, Murad and Omran are this week’s Best of the Week — First Winner.

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Sept. 15, 2023

Best of the Week — First Winner

AP team provides fast — and exclusive — coverage of devastating Morocco earthquake

Sam Metz had been on the job for four days. The newly appointed North Africa reporter had just arrived in Rabat, fresh from Utah, when Morocco’s strongest earthquake in more than a century hit late Friday.

As Metz got alerts and a story going, photographer Mosa’ab Elshamy knew exactly what to do. He organized a car and driver, and the duo headed to the epicenter hours away, navigating rubble-blocked roads. Their all-nighter paid off: AP had the first international journalists on-site.

Both Elshamy and Metz shot video from their phones as Brussels-based video journalist Mark Carlson rushed to get there with a LiveU and satellite phone. Freelancers helped keep AP ahead, while colleagues around the world pitched in on all formats.

AP had the first confirmed death tolls and stayed ahead throughout that crucial first day. Metz’s firsthand accounts and Elshamy’s photojournalism yielded exclusive stories that led websites beyond AP News and topped the Los Angeles Times print edition two days in a row. The Day 1 story was the third-most-viewed story on AP News for that week.

For fast and fearless work under complex circumstances, Metz, Elshamy and Carlson are this week’s Best of the Week — First Winner.

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