Aug. 12, 2022

Best of the Week — First Winner

Deep sourcing and sensitive reporting deliver blockbuster on Mormon sex abuse cover-up

AP investigative reporter Mike Rezendes’ years of source work led him to a stunning discovery: a so-called help line that enabled a cover-up of sex abuse in the Mormon church community, including the case of a 5-year-old Arizona girl, molested by her father for seven years while church leaders were aware of the abuse.

Rezendes, video journalist Jessie Wardarski and photographer Dario Lopez met with victims and their families, earning their trust and telling the story in the victims’ own voices. The resulting package, including illustrations by Peter Hamlin, was one of AP’s most-viewed investigative projects of the year, protecting the victims even as it revealed a systemic effort to cover up horrific child sex abuse.

For deep sourcing and commitment to report a story with both impact and sensitivity, Mike Rezendes, Jessie Wardarski, Dario Lopez, Peter Hamlin and Randy Herschaft earn AP’s Best of the Week — First Winner 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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Nov. 25, 2022

Best of the Week — First Winner

Monthslong investigation weaves sordid tale of debauchery within DEA

"The drug war is a game,” José Irizarry told two AP reporters during his final moments of freedom. “It was a very fun game that we were playing.”

Irizarry’s decision to spend some of his last few hours before beginning a 12-year federal prison sentence with two AP reporters in early 2022 was a moment years in the making that yielded a bombshell bacchanal of a story -- itself months in the making.

Four years ago, just before starting at The Associated Press, New York-based investigative reporter Jim Mustian received a tip about a DEA investigation into one of the agency’s own agents in Colombia. That spiraled into a string of AP scoops by Mustian and Miami-based Latin America correspondent Joshua Goodman on DEA corruption in Latin America, including an exclusive on the arrest of that agent. Irizarry had been accused of conspiring with Colombian drug cartels to divert millions from DEA money laundering stings in what prosecutors called one of the worst betrayals in DEA history.

For a deeply reported and compelling investigation, telling the tale of a former war-on-drugs warrior who crossed multiple boundaries, Mustian and Goodman earn AP’s Best of the Week — First Winner honors.

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Nov. 11, 2022

Best of the Week — First Winner

‘Method to the violence’: Dogged investigation and groundbreaking visuals document Bucha ‘cleansing’

An all formats team of AP journalists, working in partnership with PBS “Frontline” and SITU Research, used surveillance camera footage, intercepted phone calls and an exclusive 3D animation of Bucha to detail Russia’s monthlong reign of terror in the Ukrainian city.

The evidence collected, including 80.000 video files and thousands of audio files, told the chilling tale of the fall of Bucha and how, over the month that followed, Russian occupiers terrorized the local population with raids, torture and summary executions. In phone calls home Russian soldiers described “zachistka” — cleansing — killing civilians under orders from their leaders.

No other news organization has conducted such a deep and revealing analysis of the atrocities in Bucha.

For their meticulous, innovative work and their collaboration across formats and continents, the team of Erika Kinetz, Oleksandr Stashevskyi, Vasilisa Stepanenko, Adam Pemble, Allen Breed, Michael Biesecker, Jeannie Ohm and Dario Lopez is AP’s Best of the Week — First Winner.

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Oct. 28, 2022

Beat of the Week

(Honorable Mention)

Exclusive reveals probe into actions of WHO’s Syria leader

revealed the largest internal investigation conducted by the World Health Organization in years — over allegations by WHO staffers in Syria that their boss mismanaged millions of dollars, plied government officials with gifts and acted frivolously as COVID-19 swept the country.A tip last November about misconduct in the Syria office led to nearly a year of document reporting and source work for Cheng, AP London-based medical writer. Instrumental to this story was her previous reporting about accusations of racism against WHO’s regional director in the Western Pacific. That coverage led to the director being placed on leave, which persuaded Syria staffers of WHO, some of whom had been reluctant to talk to AP, that Cheng’s reporting could result in concrete action. They provided further documentation of Dr. Akjemal Magtymova’s management practices in Syria, and Cheng had her exclusive.The story won massive play in the Middle East and WHO dispatched an ethics team to Cairo, while major AP competitors reached out to congratulate Cheng on her scoop.Read more

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Oct. 07, 2022

Best of the Week — First Winner

AP’s on-the-ground investigation in Ukraine uncovers Russia’s torture sites — and survivors

A trio of AP journalists had no idea exactly what they would find when they were directed to a monastery in recently liberated Izium, Ukraine.

There, correspondent Lori Hinnant, photographer Evgeniy Maloletka and video journalist Vasilisa Stepanenko found a former Ukrainian soldier in hiding, tortured three times by occupying Russian forces. His disturbing tale would supply the narrative for an exclusive investigation that uncovered 10 torture sites. The journalists gained access to five of them and spoke to more than a dozen torture survivors, and to two families whose loved ones had disappeared

The all-formats package, revealing arbitrary, widespread, routine torture of civilians and soldiers alike in Izium, immediately resonated, earning wide play and high readership.

For a gritty, deeply reported all-formats investigation that made an impact, exposing evidence of Russian war crimes and the human consequences, Hinnant, Stepanenko and Maloletka earn AP’s Best of the Week — First Winner honors.

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Sept. 16, 2022

Best of the Week — First Winner

Sweeping AP coverage captures the life, death of Queen Elizabeth II and a nation in mourning

Years of AP preparation and planning paid off when first word came early Thursday evening in London: Queen Elizabeth II had died.

Customers had an AP Flash within a minute, followed by all-formats coverage that was stunning for its speed and scope, from a comprehensive obituary to video and photo retrospectives, profiles of Charles and Camilla, a look at global tributes, a piece on the complex reaction of former British colonies, and much more. Countless AP staffers across bureaus and continents contributed, with London staffers critical to the core coverage.

Performance for the all-formats coverage bore witness to the exceptional work — the main obit alone had 1.1 million pageviews on AP News.

For remarkable journalism still unfolding as the queen’s funeral approaches, the London-based team of Susie Blann, Danica Kirka, Jill Lawless, Sylvia Hui, Samira Becirovic, Brian Friedman, Pete Brown, Naomi Koppel, Anne-Marie Belgrave, Martin Cleaver and Frank Griffiths, and colleagues near and far, receives AP’s Best of the Week — First Winner honors.

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July 30, 2021

Best of the States

Only on AP: 20 years later, chaplain’s litany of prayers for US troops killed in Afghanistan finally comes to an end

With the end of the war in Afghanistan looming, national writer Matt Sedensky sought a compelling way to humanize America’s longest war — and he found it. Nearly all the American troops killed in the war had their remains returned to Dover Air Force Base in Delaware, where the military runs a mortuary. There, Sedensky found chaplain David Sparks, who had been called to active duty after 9/11, assigned to the mortuary, and had been there ever since.

Sedensky pieced together Sparks’ experience: writing hundreds of prayers for the dead, standing beside their disfigured remains and ministering to their broken families. Joined by New York video journalist Jessie Wardarski and Washington photographer Carolyn Kaster, the team had access to parts of the base hidden far from public view. The resulting package, with Sedensky’s expressive prose and affecting visuals by Wardarski and Kaster, generated a strong response from veterans and non-military alike.

For intimate, revealing work that eloquently writes one of the closing chapters of America’s 20-year war, the team of Sedensky, Kaster and Wardarski earns this week’s Best of the States award.

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Aug. 12, 2022

Beat of the Week

(Honorable Mention)

AP pair raises awareness of overlooked Atlanta Race Massacre

delivered a distinctive enterprise package, shining light on the little-recognized 1906 Atlanta Race Massacre which involved the killings of at least 25 Black people and the destruction of Black-owned businesses.Warren, an Atlanta desk editor who also writes and edits for the AP’s Race and Ethnicity Team, has a passion and eye for history, particularly overlooked events related to race. Through diligent source work and reporting — and despite the misgivings of some Atlantans — he and multiformat colleague Sharon Johnson developed an engaging all-formats package raising awareness of the massacre and making it relevant to the current racial reckoning in the U.S.Read more

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May 20, 2022

Beat of the Week

(Honorable Mention)

AP looks at real-world issues of viability and the earliest babies

visited Eutaw, Alabama, to better understand the issue of viability — a key word in the superheated debate over abortion — as experienced by families who know what it means to have a baby born at the edge of life.Ungar, who has covered maternal and newborn health for years, knew doctors were getting better at keeping very premature babies alive. She reviewed data and research, interviewed physicians and was connected to Michelle Butler who was in just her fifth month of pregnancy when she she gave birth to twins, including Curtis, the world’s earliest surviving premature baby.Butler let the all-formats team of Ungar, Wang and Dill into family’s life. What emerged was an emotional narrative of extreme joy and profound loss, explaining the science and ethics involved and bringing deeply reported, balanced, real-world context to one of the biggest, most provocative issues of the year.Read more

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May 20, 2022

Beat of the Week

(Honorable Mention)

AP captures a dramatic Eurovision — and an emotional sendoff

capped AP’s spotless coverage of the Eurovision Song Contest in Turin with an exclusive the morning after the contest as the winning band, Ukraine’s Kalush Orchestra, bid a tearful goodbye to Italy, returning to Ukraine to fight for their homeland.With contributions by reporters in Ukraine, the AP team delivered outstanding Eurovision coverage from Day One, but it was the exclusive day-after coverage that truly set AP apart from the competition, capturing images of the emotional scene outside the band’s hotel, the band members saying goodbyes to loved ones staying in Italy as the men return to war-ravaged Ukraine.Read more

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May 13, 2022

Best of the Week — First Winner

Unique AP visual investigation points to 600 dead in airstrike on Mariupol theater

A deeply reported, innovative and meticulous AP investigation determined that the deadliest apparent war crime so far in Ukraine — the March 16 Mariupol theater airstrike — likely killed about 600 people, twice as many as previously reported.

AP’s first full-blown visual investigation drew on survivors’ accounts, photos, video, experts and a 3D digital model of the theater to reconstruct what happened that day. The resulting package offered a vivid, detailed narrative of the events inside the theater, including elements that had not previously been reported, all delivered in an arresting presentation.

For a remarkable investigation that harnessed the power of all formats to break news, the team of Hinnant, Ritzel, Chernov, Stepanenko and Goodman is AP’s Best of the Week — First Winner.

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April 08, 2022

Best of the Week — First Winner

Ukraine visuals document an exceptionally dark chapter of the war; intelligence says aides misled Putin

AP teams have again dominated coverage of war in Ukraine on two fronts, this time in horrifying images of civilians killed in Bucha and surrounding areas outside Kyiv, and in stories out of Washington and London, where AP was first with a report that Russian President Vladimir Putin’s aides have been misleading him about the war.

Recently declassified information from a reliable source led to Washington’s scoop that Putin was reportedly “misinformed by his advisors about how badly the Russian military is performing.” AP’s story beat the competition and scored sky-high reader engagement, and a smart follow-up out of London delved into the strategic value of declassifying such intelligence.

On the ground in Ukraine, AP video and photojournalists arrived Saturday in Bucha, outside Kyiv, after Russian forces were ousted. There they found civilians lying dead in the streets, destroyed Russian military equipment and dead Russian servicemen. The following day the AP journalists were first to record the bodies of eight men who were killed execution style, as well as a mass grave and the bodies of a village mayor and her family.

The grim images define one of the darkest chapters on the war so far and raise fears of what may be unfolding in areas as yet inaccessible to journalists.

For their vital role documenting this brutal episode of the war, and for revealing reports of failures in the Kremlin’s intelligence at the highest levels, the journalism of Nebi Qena, Sasha Stashevsky, Vadim Ghirda, Andrea Rosa and Rodrigo Abd in Ukraine, Aamer Madhani and Nomaan Merchant in Washington, and Jill Lawless in London receives AP’s Best of The Week — First Winner honors.

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March 04, 2022

Best of the Week — First Winner

AP’s team in Ukraine delivers unparalleled coverage of Russian invasion

From images of a young girl killed by shelling to an eyewitness account of a makeshift maternity ward inside a bomb shelter, AP’s team of more than two dozen journalists across Ukraine documented for the world in vivid detail how the Russian invasion is playing out on the ground.

The all-formats coverage began as Russian troops massed at Ukraine’s borders and has not let up since the assault began more than a week ago.

AP staffers across the world have been vital in explaining the economic, political and social repercussions of the war, but the journalists in Ukraine have been the anchor — setting AP’s coverage apart, delivering memorable images and authoritative text as the story develops by the hour.For tenacity and bravery in chronicling the Russian invasion, the team in Ukraine earns the respect and gratitude of their colleagues worldwide and is AP’s Best of the Week — First Winner.

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Nov. 19, 2021

Best of the Week — First Winner

At the intersection of population growth and extreme heat, AP interactive brings global climate data to life

The team of data journalist Nicky Forster, science writer Drew Costley and storytelling producer Peter Hamlin, joined by AP colleagues, worked for months on an immersive interactive that takes readers across the globe, visualizing how and where exposure to extreme heat is escalating and its impact on population centers.

After securing early access to historical data tracking both population growth and a specific metric that gauges the impact of extreme temperatures on human health, AP’s analysis found that between 1983 and 2016, exposure to dangerous heat tripled, and now affects about a quarter of the world’s population.

The team spent weeks building an engaging presentation with 3D graphics and illustrations that brought the piece to life, drawing in readers. The interactive marked the latest example of AP’s new storytelling formats and stood out from the deluge of coverage during the United Nations climate summit in Scotland.

For their resourcefulness, creativity and dedication in helping AP’s audience understand the far-ranging impact of global warming in a new way, the team of Forster, Costley and Hamlin is this week’s Best of the Week — First Winner.

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Aug. 20, 2021

Beat of the Week

(Honorable Mention)

COVID surge overwhelms a Louisiana hospital; AP is there

produced a timely, moving, all-formats story from a Louisiana COVID-19 ward with a lightning turnaround, getting her video, text and photos to the wire the day after she spent hours at the hospital.Plaisance, New Orleans-based video journalist, was given access to a hospital intensive care unit in Jefferson, Louisiana, expecting to get a few comments and some b-roll. Instead, she ended up spending the most of the day there, interviewing exhausted staff and recovering COVID victims. She spoke to a doctor who was emptying garbage bins and bathing patients to relieve the pressure on nurses. She spoke to a nurse who lost his own father to COVID, and a patient — also a nurse — who didn't get vaccinated and wants to make sure others don’t follow her lead.After leaving the hospital, Plaisance immediately went to work cutting video and writing the text story. By the following afternoon her work was on the wire capturing the desperation and urgency at the hospital.The package drew attention amid the current spike in COVID cases. Other news outlets noticed: After Plaisance’s piece appeared, the hospital became the subject of other reporters’ coverage.https://aplink.news/e0uhttps://aplink.video/p2n

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July 30, 2021

Beat of the Week

(Honorable Mention)

50 years after the US declared war on drugs, AP examines racial disparities

used data and on-the-ground reporting to explore the fallout of America’s war on drugs, launched 50 years ago this summer by President Richard Nixon.Race and ethnicity reporter Morrison, joined by data journalist Kastanis and multiformat journalist Breed, set out to tell a story of the toll that harsh prison sentences and lifetime restrictions post-release have taken on Black and Latino Americans, their families and their communities.To do so, the AP reviewed federal and state data, finding that the Black incarceration rate in America surged from about 600 per 100,000 people in 1970 to 1,808 in 2000, and the rate for the Latino population grew from 208 per 100,000 people to 615, while the white incarceration rate grew at a more modest rate, from 103 per100,000 people to 242.But beyond the data, the AP trio put names and a face to those caught up in this grinding war with no clear winners but many losers. The story’s lead subject, Alton Lucas, could have had a life of touring nationally and internationally with his DJ friend, but instead discovered drugs and the drug trade at the height of the war on drugs. As a crack cocaine addict involved in trafficking, the North Carolina man faced decades in prison at a time when the drug abuse and violence plaguing Black communities were not seen as the public health issue that opioids are today. The combination of Morrison’s deep reporting, Breed’s photos and video, and Kastanis’ data analysis, accompanied by graphics, resulted in a newsy, nuanced package, rich with historical context.https://aplink.news/k6jhttps://aplink.video/017

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