June 23, 2017
Beat of the Week
How fugitive polygamy sect leader was captured
for being first to report the details of law enforcement's capture of fugitive polygamous sect leader Lyle Jeffs. http://abcn.ws/2tUISyS
for being first to report the details of law enforcement's capture of fugitive polygamous sect leader Lyle Jeffs. http://abcn.ws/2tUISyS
AP journalists were on the U.S-Mexico border for an immigration assignment May 24 when they got word of a school shooting in Uvalde, Texas. They quickly gathered their gear and rushed to Robb Elementary School, where they found chaotic scenes of law enforcement surrounding the school. The staffers immediately went to work providing photos and live video.
That swift response to the unfolding tragedy made the AP the first national news organization on the scene and set the tone for the rest of the week. As more staff deployed, AP delivered dominant, all-formats coverage that explored with sensitivity not only the shooting that left 19 fourth graders and two teachers dead, but inconsistencies in the actions and statements of police — and much more.
Readers and customers responded with exceptional engagement.
For a powerful example of the AP at its finest on a major news story that has led to an outpouring of sympathy for the families, questions about police practices and the latest reckoning on guns and school safety, the AP Uvalde coverage team earns Best of the Week — First Winner.
dug behind the scenes to reveal the extraordinary lengths one man went to in caring for his COVID-19-stricken mother-in-law and other relatives — the nurse created an intensive care unit in his home. Kantouris won the international competition to track down the man whose feat had begun to appear in local media reports. He interviewed nurse Gabriel Tachtatzoglou, delving into his motivations and methods for taking on the high-risk endeavor. Tachtatzoglou had spared his family members from hospitalization in an overburdened local facility while simultaneously easing the patient load in Greece’s most heavily affected region, where ICUs were already at capacity. Visuals were a challenge as the makeshift ICU was dismantled when the family recovered, but photo stringer Papanikos complemented the story with a visit to the home for a portrait shoot. Athens staffer Derek Gatopoulos drafted this installment of AP’s “One Good Thing” series, which was picked up even by the Greek press. https://bit.ly/3oy9nHv
for breaking the story of former football coach Art Briles filing a libel and conspiracy lawsuit against Baylor, another blow for the Baptist university struggling through a sexual assault scandal. http://bit.ly/2hC6iag
deconstructed how the Louisiana State Police scandal of beatings and cover-ups could have gone on for so long, digging deeper into the institutional thinking of the agency, its history and the background of key figures. They interviewed dozens of current and former troopers and uncovered thousands of pages of documents that described an entrenched culture of impunity, nepotism and in some cases outright racism.This story, the latest in their investigative series stemming from the deadly 2019 arrest of Black motorist Ronald Greene, was built around a father who rose to second in command of the state agency despite being reprimanded for racist behavior, and his son who became one of the state police’s most violent troopers — with the brunt of his use of force directed at Black people.Mustian and Bleiberg, federal law enforcement reporters, also had never-before-reported details of a 2019 cheating scandal in the state police academy that targeted the entire class for dismissal. In the end, nearly everyone in the class was allowed to graduate. And they conducted a revealing interview with the head of the state police in which he admitted he doesn’t know how many other cases like Ronald Greene’s could still be out there because “we’ve not looked at every video.”The story, accompanied by video and photos by multiformat journalist Allen Breed, added to calls for a federal investigation, and Louisiana lawmakers created a special committee to dig into reports of excessive force. The piece also resonated with readers, scoring strong play online and ranking as one of the most-engaged stories of the week.https://aplink.news/3zuhttps://aplink.video/ysmhttps://aplink.news/xda
used interviews, public records requests and court papers to exclusively confirm at least six sexual misconduct allegations against senior FBI officials over the past five years, and that each avoided discipline. Several were quietly transferred or retired with full benefits, even when probes substantiated the claims.Starting with a single tip from a longtime FBI source, Mustian chipped away for months to reveal the previously undisclosed names of most of those senior officials as well as the details of the allegations against them. He used a Freedom of Information Act request to obtain inspector general reports, one of which confirmed the identity of an assistant FBI director who had been credibly accused of of drunkenly groping a female subordinate in a stairwell. The assistant director left the bureau without discipline.Mustian also found a civil rights lawyer in Washington who was preparing two lawsuits by women accusing senior officials. Mustian negotiated both for an exclusive interview with one of the plaintiffs, and to be the first reporter to write about those cases, including one woman’s claim of being blackmailed into sexual encounters for years.Mustian’s story received heavy play and elicited a strong reaction from readers, particularly those inside the FBI. Several women emailed Mustian to say his count was just the beginning; that they too were victims of senior agents while at the FBI. A California congresswoman says she is considering hearings into the FBI’s handling of sexual misconduct. https://bit.ly/3h15d7R
for their Only on AP story that details new accusations from three women of sexual misconduct against filmmaker Paul Haggis. Getting the story required deft interviewing by the two reporters to get the accusers to open up about their assertions against another Hollywood heavyweight. http://bit.ly/2m4YgY4
AP investigative reporter Jason Dearen received a curious email on Dec. 1, claiming to be from Joseph Moore, a man Dearen had written about months earlier. Moore was an FBI undercover informant who had infiltrated the Ku Klux Klan in Florida and disrupted a murder plot by three klansmen working as prison guards.
Dearen and AP visual journalist Robert Bumsted soon found themselves in Florida interviewing Moore about his years in the klan.
Moore said he’d identified dozens of law enforcement officers who were either sympathetic to the klan, or active members, telling AP, “It is more prevalent and consequential than any of them are willing to admit.” Dearen also came away with details to further challenge Florida officials’ claims that they have no indication of wider klan or other criminal gang activity among their prison guards.
The “must read” story, accompanied by Bumsted's video, lit up online and numerous film producers inquired about film rights.
For chasing the story so long and covering it so well that it brought an underground FBI informant out of the shadows, Dearen and Bumsted earn AP’s Best of the Week — First Winner honors.
New York-based federal law enforcement reporter Jim Mustian never gives up on a story.
Sticking with a case he began covering at another news organization in another state more than two years ago, Mustian landed a jaw-dropping exclusive for the AP: That a trove of hundreds of confidential emails has surfaced allegedly showing executives of the NFL’s New Orleans Saints doing public relations damage control for the area’s Roman Catholic archdiocese amid its clergy sexual abuse crisis.
The story had an immediate, visceral impact with readers and earned praise from fellow journalists.
Mustian will continue to chip away at this story and, hopefully, reveal more about the Saints and their involvement with the church. But for now, Mustian’s sticktoitiveness and tough accountability reporting earns him this week’s Best of the States award.
Beyond its dramatic effects, the audio from 911 calls can provide the kind of context that is essential to the public's understanding of what happened during a newsworthy crime or emergency. Those recordings are, with few exceptions, a matter of public record. That almost changed this year in Iowa, where the state House passed – unanimously – a bill that would end the public's ability to access many 911 calls. The bill eventually died after an outcry from the media, watchdog groups and civil rights organizations, but it was not unusual. A months-long project by AP reporters and data journalists found more than 150 bills introduced in state legislatures this year that were intended to eliminate or limit public access to a wide range of government records and meetings.
To help reporters find, track and provide input on those bills, Serdar Tumgoren and Seth Rasmussen of the data team created a unique online tool that provided full access to AP customers.
Called the Sunshine Hub, it helps users keep track of legislative activity related to government transparency, suggest new bills, search for and categorize bills for research purposes, and discuss legislation with others. The Sunshine Hub directly complemented stories by Ryan Foley in Iowa, Andrew DeMillo in Arkansas and Laurie Kellman in Washington.
For their groundbreaking reporting and software development, Tumgoren, Rasmussen, Foley, DeMillo and Kellman win this week's Best of the States award.
both delivered scoops on the U.S. Department of Justice and election investigations.Balsamo kept hearing rumors of the DOJ looking into election cases, but he knew there were rules prohibiting such investigations during an ongoing election. He kept asking until a source revealed a memo Attorney General William Barr had sent to prosecutors nationwide authorizing federal prosecutors across the U.S. to pursue any “substantial allegations” of voting irregularities before the election is certified, despite the fact there was no evidence of widespread fraud giving prosecutors the ability to go around the longstanding policy. The scoop reverberated nationwide, especially as concerns grew over Trump’s ability to use the levers of government to hang on to power. The story was widely used, with Politico, Axios and NBC citing AP in their coverage of Barr’s memo. AP’s alert and a full story were on the wire more than 40 minutes before other major news organizations obtained a copy of the memo.Meanwhile, Las Vegas reporter Michelle Price was digging into how the DOJ was pursuing allegations from the Trump campaign that voters may have cast improper ballots in Nevada. Price and Balsamo teamed up with voting reporter Anthony Izaguirre to report out two ongoing investigations, and how they may not hold up to scrutiny. Price used her contacts to get exclusive first-person accounts from U.S. military members who thought they’d been wrongly accused of fraud for voting by mail from out of state by Nevada authorities and DOJ officials.https://bit.ly/2Kqu09ehttps://bit.ly/3lOlxKR
When police busted several massage parlors engaging in prostitution in Florida in February, New England Patriots owner Robert Kraft drew all the attention, but hundreds of other men were also charged in what seemed like a new approach for Florida authorities.
AP Florida reporters Mike Schneider, Orlando, and Terry Spencer, West Palm Beach, seized on the Kraft-driven attention to dig into legal issues surrounding massage parlors and prostitution in Florida. With a deep dive into state records and a key interview with a local source, the pair landed an AP Exclusive that showed a change in strategy: Usually only low-level massage therapists were arrested. Owners were rarely charged and typically faced only fines and probation. Johns typically were not charged at all.
But the recent investigation had instead focused heavily on the possibility of widespread human trafficking. Several spa owners were charged with felonies, and authorities also charged 300 men accused of being patrons, including Kraft and the former president of Citigroup. The Martin County sheriff told Spencer that he wanted to shut down the sex-massage industry in part by targeting the demand side.
Strong play included prominent display in The Washington Post.
For their enterprising use of state records and source-building to find an AP Exclusive in a story that drew enormous global attention, Schneider and Spencer win this week’s Best of States award.
In western Alaska, rape survivors and their supporters say Nome’s police department has often failed to investigate sexual assaults, especially when the victims are Alaska Native women.
Delivering sensitive-but-powerful coverage from a challenging environment, enterprise photographer Maye-E Wong and freelance correspondent Victoria Mckenzie tell the story of average Americans struggling with sexual violence and law enforcement in small communities. Their work made clear that Nome’s struggles don’t represent an isolated case; it is a microcosm of how police and towns and cities across the U.S. have failed survivors of sexual assaults.
For going to extremes – literally and figuratively – to shed light on a remote corner of the larger issue of sexual violence and enforcement, Wong and Mckenzie share this week’s Best of the States award.
for a character-driven story on how first responders return to work after recovering from COVID-19. They return with trepidation about surviving an “invisible bullet” of the disease. https://bit.ly/2zkV0kLhttps://bit.ly/2SKEYYy
Earmarked for deportation, the immigrant children, some mere toddlers, were parked in nondescript hotels – out of sight and, the Trump administration thought, out of mind. But not out of reach of an Associated Press exclusive.
With an investigation based on source work, court records and witness accounts, immigration reporter Nomaan Merchant exposed how the Trump administration held children in hotels despite federal anti-trafficking laws and court rulings that mandate child-appropriate facilities.
Merchant’s exclusive sparked outrage and accusations of child abuse. Five days later, the Trump administration said it would not expel 17 people, including children, detained at one Texas hotel, and the hotels pledged to stop allowing the practice.
For his investigative story that punctured layers of secrecy and changed the fortunes of all-but-invisible immigrant children, Merchant wins AP’s Best of the Week award.
for revealing that the damage claims related to a toxic mine waste spill had been wildly inflated by a small law firm. http://apne.ws/2ncEaxO
exclusively obtained body camera video kept secret for more than two years showing a Louisiana State Police trooper pummeling a Black motorist 18 times with a flashlight, an attack the trooper defended as “pain compliance.”The dramatic footage of the May 2019 beating of Aaron Larry Bowman — who could be heard wailing between blows, “I’m not resisting! I’m not resisting” — was featured with credit to AP on news broadcasts by all three major U.S. networks and in matcher stories by The New York Times, The Washington Post and CNN. AP’s coverage also included exclusively obtained investigative documents on the case and an emotional all-formats interview with Bowman, conducted just a few weeks earlier, in which he recounted the beating that left him with a broken jaw, broken ribs, a broken wrist and a deep gash in his head.The piece by Mustian and Bleiberg shared a theme with several of the week’s top AP stories: They shed light on issues fundamental to democracy that no one would have known about without the AP. This was just latest in a series of AP exclusives on the Louisiana State Police that began with stunning coverage of the deadly arrest of Ronald Greene by troopers from the same headquarters. Greene’s arrest was kept under wraps before AP obtained video and published it earlier this year. Federal prosecutors are now examining both cases in a widening investigation into police brutality and potential cover-ups involving both troopers and state police brass.This week’s story, accompanied by a video package from Stacey Plaisance and photographs by Rogelio Solis, saw strong play online with 225,000 pageviews on AP News and was AP’s most-engaged story of the week with readers.https://aplink.news/tc9https://aplink.video/acm
beat all the competition, breaking the news of President Joe Biden’s nominee for the upcoming Supreme Court vacancy. AP flooded the media space with content on every platform, delivering a comprehensive package that told customers and readers everything they need to know about federal appeals court Judge Ketanji Brown Jackson, what comes next and who bears watching in the process.The initial scoop came from smart source work, and the impressive range of content that quickly followed was made possible by advance coordination across formats and departments — AP was poised with thorough preparation on each of the front-runners for the nomination. Read more
for breaking news that a federal grand jury is investigating top GOP fundraiser Elliott Broidy and whether he used his role as vice chair of President Donald Trump’s inaugural committee to drum up business deals with foreign leaders. https://bit.ly/2JyrREc
for breaking the news that a lawyer is trying again to get citizenship status for residents of American Samoa, whose residents have a different status than those in other U.S. territories. https://bit.ly/2ElMa3n