Jan. 05, 2018
Beat of the Week
Rohingya survivors: Myanmar army slaughtered men, children
for their vivid reconstruction of a massacre of dozens of Rohingya Muslims in Myanmar. http://bit.ly/2F3x83x
for their vivid reconstruction of a massacre of dozens of Rohingya Muslims in Myanmar. http://bit.ly/2F3x83x
for their all-formats coverage of a grenade attack aimed at Ethiopia’s new prime minister during a massive rally. https://bit.ly/2lIhXVd
Last year, when Beijing correspondent Gerry Shih was working on a series of stories about the Uighurs in China, he learned that a number of citizens from Kazakhstan had been ensnared in a crackdown in the Xinjiang region where Muslims were being indoctrinated in a network of internment camps.
When one of them, Omir Bekali, decided to speak out about his eight-month ordeal in detention and in a so-called re-education center where hundreds of thousands of Muslims are being indoctrinated to disavow their religion, Shih, video journalist Dake Kang and China chief photographer Ng Han Guan traveled 2,000 miles to Almaty to interview him.
Their in-depth, all-formats report on the physical and psychological torment Bekali endured earns the Beat of the Week.
The threat over her phone to Army wife Angela Ricketts was terrifying. “Dear Angela!” it said. “Bloody Valentine’s Day!”
“We know everything about you, your husband and your children,” it continued, claiming that Islamic State militants had penetrated her computer. “We’re much closer than you can even imagine.”
More than three years after Ricketts and four other military wives received this and other alarming messages, AP London-based cybersecurity reporter Raphael Satter unraveled the secret behind it all. Satter drew on a massive hit list of Russian hacking targets, focusing on a group of five women whose names were clustered together on the list. All reported having received death threats from a mysterious group calling itself CyberCaliphate back in 2015.
The threats were not from Middle Eastern terrorists at all, but hackers from the Russian group widely dubbed Fancy Bear – the same gang who later broke into the Democratic Party’s emails and interfered in the 2016 U.S. presidential election.
For revealing the latest wrinkle in the Russian hacking story, Satter earns the Beat of the Week.
for breaking the news that the remaining schoolgirl held captive after a Boko Haram mass abduction was blocked from release with her Muslim classmates at the last minute because she refused to convert to Islam. hhttps://bit.ly/2E75ocV
for breaking the news that a policeman and two school counselors agreed in 2016 that Nikolas Cruz should be committed to a mental institution, a recommendation that was never acted upon and might have barred the Parkland massacre suspect from buying weapons. https://bit.ly/2ucnD0E
Major corporations were cutting ties with the National Rifle Association after the massacre at a Florida high school, but what about schools that had received grants from the gun organization? It was a natural follow to the Associated Press’ exclusive story that the alleged shooter at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School had belonged to a school JROTC program that received NRA grants.
Data journalist Meghan Hoyer dug through tax records to identify the schools that had received more than $7 million in NRA grants. Education beat team member Collin Binkley began calling recipients around the country to see if they would forgo the money. Few said they would.
For their work breaking news on a story that everyone is reporting and providing data that allowed AP members to localize the story, Binkley and Hoyer will receive this week’s Best of the States prize.
for examining President Trump’s claim of a massive arrest of gang suspects on Long Island and finding that local authorities have refused to release even the most basic details, such as names of those arrested, their alleged crimes and the outcomes of their cases. http://bit.ly/2FgWlKO
When editors with Reveal from the Center for Investigative Reporting approached AP with a story on unfair lending practices, data editor Meghan Hoyer and data journalist Angel Kastanis saw an opportunity to use AP’s reach to expand the story and generate real impact.
Starting with 31 million records, representing nearly every mortgage loan application submitted in the U.S. in 2015 and 2016, they found that 50 years after the federal Fair Housing Act, people of color are still denied conventional mortgage loans at rates far higher than their white counterparts. The analysis found a pattern of denials across the country, including in major metropolitan areas.
While Reveal took the lead on the national story, Kastanis and Hoyer took the story deeper. The data distribution they prepared and shared with AP reporters and members showed 61 metro areas where applicants of color were more likely to be denied a conventional home purchase mortgage, even controlling for factors such as income, loan amount and neighborhood.
For taking the story to the next level in a way only AP can, Kastanis and Hoyer receive this week’s $300 Best of the States prize.
– Photographer Joel Auerbach’s poignant image of two women crying outside a Florida high school as parents awaited news about their children after a gunman’s deadly rampage on the campus.
– Reporters Michael Biesecker and Collin Binkley’s exclusive reporting that the suspect was a “good shot” on a National Rifle Association-backed rifle team at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School.
The two exclusives helped distinguish the coverage of the shooting at the school that left 17 dead. For capturing the human toll in a single iconic image and shedding light on the suspect’s marksmanship training, Auerbach, Biesecker and Binkley win this week’s Beat of the Week.
for negotiating access to a snow-removal crew in California's High Sierra and producing a widely used video and photo package that beautifully illustrated the massive snow depths still blanketing the mountain range on the eve of summer. http://apne.ws/2tzT1ld
for an exclusive story of how a two-tiered system in North Korea allows the elite to surf the internet with relative freedom, while the masses are limited to a national intranet cut off from the outside world. http://bit.ly/2z9jP2k
It was just one of the many mysteries surrounding the Las Vegas concert shooting: How did the gunman, perched up on the 32nd floor of the Mandalay Bay resort, fire off as many as 90 rounds onto thousands of concert-goers in just 10 seconds, killing 58 people and injuring hundreds?
Reporters Sadie Gurman and Mike Balsamo found the answer. Through sourcework, they learned that Stephen Paddock was able to carry out his assault in moments because he had used two “bump stocks,” devices that allow a semi-automatic rifle to repeatedly fire like a machine gun.
The scoop was part of an impressive week of coverage by staff in the Las Vegas bureau and across the AP that also included photographer John Locher’s dramatic images of police screaming for people to take cover as the gunman sprayed the crowd with bullets.
For their work in bringing critical details and images of the worst mass shooting in modern U.S. history, Gurman, Balsamo and Locher win this week’s Beat of the Week prize.
for breaking the news that the suspect in a deadly Nashville church shooting had left a note in his car referencing white supremacist Dylann Roof's massacre, giving readers a glimpse into a possible motive. http://bit.ly/2ysfBSv
First, a 7.1 magnitude earthquake rocked Mexico, killing hundreds. Then, a day later, a category 4 hurricane pummeled Puerto Rico, leaving millions of people without power and with little water.
Two major calamities, one sterling response: Staffers of The Associated Press went to heroic lengths to tell the world the stories of two places battered by disaster. Their efforts were led to extraordinary achievements – in text, photos and video – and the Beat of the Week.
for reporting exclusively that an energy company had failed to notify county emergency officials of a massive methane leak in northeastern Pennsylvania. http://bit.ly/2yopugf
for her photos that captured presidential chief of staff John F. Kelly putting his head in his hands and staring at the ground as he listened to his boss, Donald Trump, delivering a speech to the UN General Assembly in which he threatened to “totally destroy North Korea.” The photo received massive play worldwide. https://yhoo.it/2xQgy5Z
It was a tide of humanity that just kept getting larger.
Driven from their homes by mass violence after a clash between insurgents and police, Rohingya Muslims from a borderland state in Buddhist-majority Myanmar streamed into neighboring Bangladesh where they faced homelessness, more potential violence and deeply uncertain futures.
Day after excruciating day, an AP team of journalists on both sides of the border painted a portrait of human misery and the hope that always lurks within it – and cast doubt on claims by Myanmar’s government that Rohingya villagers set fire to their own homes.
For their work to focus the world’s attention on the Rohingya’s exodus, Delhi staffers – photographer Bernat Armangue, correspondent Muneeza Naqvi and video journalist Al-emrun Garjon – and Myanmar correspondent Esther Htusan win this week’s Beat of the Week award.
Floodwaters from Harvey were still rising in the Houston area and AP’s responsibilities to thoroughly cover breaking news developments across the region hadn’t diminished, but already there was an appetite for investigative reporting on the disaster. An AP team from across the company quickly mobilized.
Among the early efforts was a package of stories, data, photos and an interactive revealing that fewer Americans, in the Houston area and nationally, were buying flood insurance than just five years ago, despite serious risks from flooding.
The stories relied on federal data analyzed by Meghan Hoyer and reporting from Business writers Bernard Condon and Ken Sweet in New York as well as staff writers Terry Spencer in south Florida, Michael Kunzelman in Baton Rouge and Jeff Donn in Boston, with an interactive national map of flood insurance policies by Maureen Linke in Washington.
For their efforts that produced exclusive content with relevance to national and local media, Hoyer, Spencer, Kunzelman, Sweet, Condon, Donn and Linke will share this week’s Best of States award.
Colleen Long was by herself on the New York City desk this past Sunday with plenty to do, including taking feeds from two different stringers to update national stories on gay pride parades and a graduation at a suburban high school shattered by killings blamed on the violent MS-13 gang.
But she still managed to jump into action on what turned out to be one of the day’s most clickable stories – of a teenager who dangled and then fell 25 feet from a gondola ride at an upstate New York amusement park.
Not only did Long land an interview with a father and daughter who scrambled to safely catch the 14-year-old girl, she also got the man to send in video that a friend took of the entire event, a reporting tour de force that singlehandedly put the AP out front across all formats.
For doggedly working a story from the desk to keep the AP competitive, Colleen Long wins this week’s Best of the States Award.