March 24, 2023

Best of the Week — First Winner

AP looks ahead at new generation’s hopes 20 years after U.S. invasion of Iraq, not just behind at destruction

AP boasts about its global reach. An all-formats package reported from Iraq demonstrates how the deep expertise of its journalists also reaches back through history. 

We have an amazing team that covers Iraq day in and day out. But we also have a hidden resource: people who were there when history happened and are with us today. When we see the opportunity, we can offer our readers and customers that context. That was the case with Jerome Delay and John Daniszewski, both of whom were there in 2003 at the beginning of it all. They went back to offer some context about what has changed.

Delay and Daniszewski were both among the few international journalists in Baghdad when the U.S. launched its “shock and awe” campaign. They joined with video journalist Lujain Jo, a native Iraqi, and video journalist Jerry Marmer, who was embedded with Marines who invaded by land 20 years ago, to deliver an authoritative and nuanced portrait of a country that’s been out of the spotlight since the defeat of the Islamic State group five years ago.  

Instead of focusing solely on the war-torn image that many Iraqis say is outdated, the AP team’s package also focused on what’s ahead for Iraq. Beyond exclusive interviews with the Iraqi president and prime minister, they also conducted dozens of interviews with Iraqi youth. These gave a deeper and sometimes counterintuitive look at a generation interrupted by war and terrorism, whose voices are rarely heard outside their home country. Half of Iraq’s population of 40 million is too young to remember Saddam Hussein.   

For their sensitive and forward-looking view of an invasion that hit Iraq 20 years in the past, bolstered by their own lived experiences of it, Delay, Daniszewski, Jo and Harmer are this week’s Best of the Week — First Winner.  

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March 17, 2023

Best of the Week — First Winner

AP shows why young Americans are shunning college

News outlets had widely reported a drop in U.S. college enrollment, but nobody had really explained why. Education reporter Collin Binkley and Ohio-based video journalist Patrick Orsagos figured the best way to find out was to talk with young adults themselves.   

Binkley won a grant from the Education Writers Association and traveled with Orsagos to western Tennessee, where the pair conducted cross-format interviews with high school graduates whose stories exposed the reasons behind the trend: The high cost of higher education. Fear of student debt. A hot job market. General disillusionment with education after high school experiences disrupted by the pandemic and school closures.   

The story sparked wide discussion about the cost of college, the need for reform in higher education and the relevance of a bachelor’s degree in today’s economy. The day after publication the story landed on Reddit’s “popular” page, thanks to a post on the “Futurology” subreddit that received more than 25,000 upvotes and 3,000 comments. It appeared on at least 21 newspaper front pages, with good play on The Tennessean, The Jackson Sun, The Columbus Dispatch, The Roanoke Times and the Ithaca Journal, among others.

The story was tweeted by several members of Congress, including Sen. Marco Rubio. Parents, professors and other readers reached out via email and social media, saying the story resonated with them and demonstrated the need for America’s colleges to offer something young people see value in. And the former admissions director at Jackson State Community College offered to advise one of the students in the story on her college options; that student said she plans to contact him.  

For going to the source to find the reasons behind a major trend, Binkley and Orsagos share this week’s Best of the Week — First Place honors.

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Feb. 03, 2023

Best of the Week — First Winner

AP scores exclusive interview with Pope Francis, making news worldwide with a papal call to decriminalize homosexuality

Vatican Correspondent Nicole Winfield's tenacious reporting has already delivered numerous exclusives over a two-decade career covering three popes. Yet an on-camera, sit-down interview with a pontiff had eluded the AP.

That changed dramatically Jan. 24. After years of lobbying, the pope sat down for an historic interview with Winfield, whom Francis has for years called the “prima della classe,” or “first in class,” as a sign of respect for her tough but fair reporting on his pontificate. In fact, during the interview, he mentioned how Winfield’s questions about sex abuse during a 2018 airborne press conference led to his “conversion” moment when he realized that Chilean bishops had been covering up cases of abuse for decades.

For weeks, Winfield prepared the interview with Rome Senior Producer Maria Grazia Murru, who for decades has led the Vatican video operations. They coordinated every detail and prepared the right questions and approach for the interview. Murru designed the video coverage plan and spearheaded the production of social media promotion material. And together, they wrote letters in the most formal Italian to Francis’ private secretaries, until a date was finally arranged — for late January, a time that seemed ripe to make news. It was one week ahead of his planned trip to Africa and just over a month ahead of the 10th anniversary of his pontificate.

Video’s Paolo Santalucia and Photos’ Domenico Stinellis planned the lighting at the venue and sorted out technical details, and photographer Andrew Medichini’s images captured the historic event. Spanish language editor Cristina Fuentes-Cantillana transcribed and translated the full interview, conducted in the pope’s native Spanish.

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Feb. 03, 2023

Beat of the Week

(Honorable Mention)

AP Exclusive: Emails reveal tensions in Colorado River talks

relied on emails obtained through open records requests for an exclusive story documenting the competing priorities and tensions that sank negotiations between several western states for voluntary cuts in Colorado River water allotments.

Interviews with water officials cultivated for months -- or in Fonseca's case, years -- were key to supplementing and explaining what the emails showed. A separate public records request by Michael Phillis helped in building a timeline of the negotiations.Read more.

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Jan. 27, 2023

Beat of the Week

(Honorable Mention)

All-formats team connects people whose lives depend on the Amazon forest with larger climate goals

teamed up for a visually striking package looking at a program that might point the way forward for sustainable development of the Amazon. It involves a major French shoe company, Veja, and traditional rubber tapping.

Tappers working with a local cooperative provide rubber to Veja to use in their shoes. The arrangement is a solutions-based way forward to protect the forest.Read more.

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Jan. 27, 2023

Beat of the Week

(Honorable Mention)

All-formats interview with Yellen in Africa yields sharp comments on US debit limit impasse

, a treasury reporter in Washington, spent weeks negotiating a commitment for a rare all-formats interview with Janet Yellen during the treasury secretary’s visit to Africa. The interview couldn’t have happened at a better time, as Yellen took questions from AP in Senegal just two days after announcing the U.S. government had bumped up against its debt limit and would need to use “extraordinary measures” to avoid default.Read more.

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Jan. 20, 2023

Best of the Week — First Winner

Faceless portraits: Noroozi innovates to show struggle of Afghan women athletes

The best portraits capture a person’s essence, almost always by focusing on the human face. But AP photographer Ebrahim Noroozi, on assignment in Kabul temporarily from Iran, needed to do something different to show the effects of Afghanistan’s rule banning women playing sports.

Using the emblematic burqa to conceal the identities of the women athletes now forbidden from doing what they love best, Noroozi came up with the haunting series of faceless portraits to illustrate the erasure of Afghan women from public life under the Taliban.

Several female athletes who once played a variety of sports unrestricted posed for Noroozi with their athletic equipment – and their identities hidden by burqas, the all-encompassing robe and hood that completely covers the face, leaving only a swath of mesh to see through.

Noroozi’s images were published in an array of multimedia presentations by AP’s subscribers worldwide, including the Los Angeles Times and the Washington Post. The latter used them to illustrate a story about the near-simultaneous decision by Australia to cancel a men’s one-day international cricket series over the restrictions on women.

For innovation and sensitivity in showing a difficult subject, Noroozi earns Best of the Week – First Winner.

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