Feb. 17, 2023

Best of the Week — First Winner

AP journalists overcome odds to cover powerful quake that killed tens of thousands in Turkey and Syria 

More than a dozen AP journalists worked non-stop with translators and drivers, crisscrossing a battered landscape, driving on icy roads for up to 10 hours on any given day to reach some of the hard-hit areas. They defied freezing temperatures to capture the big and the small: the scale of the destruction, and the tales of hope that came with each and every new rescue. 

The 7.8 earthquake and the ensuing 7.5 temblor that followed struck southeastern Turkey and northern Syria on Feb. 6. It will go down in history as the deadliest natural disaster in modern times in a region already battered by years of conflict.

Years of experience working in Turkey, Syria and Lebanon translated into a quick response in the field and aggressive reporting under extremely challenging circumstances.

For their extraordinary display of bravery, skill and dedication, AP’s Turkey and Syria earthquake teams are this week’s Best of the Week – First Winner. 

From Turkey’s capital, Ankara, to the earthquake’s hardest-hit Hatay province to rebel-held northwestern Syria, AP journalists worked day and night, risking injury and worse, to produce heart wrenching coverage.

For their extraordinary display of bravery, skill and dedication, AP’s Turkey and Syria earthquake teams are this week’s Best of the Week — First Winner. 

AP 23038663434493

March 10, 2023

Best of the Week — First Winner

Rehab on hold: COVID devastates prison learning programs

When COVID-19 hit, tearing through prisons and killing thousands, it severely disrupted or shut down the very programs prisoners desperately need to prepare them for eventual release. Trauma counseling, college courses, and job training in carpentry, masonry and barbering were slow to adjust to pandemic learning. Isolation and uncertainty replaced creative outlets and mental health therapies for months on end. National Writer Aaron Morrison and video journalist Noreen Nasir paired with Los Angeles photographer Jae C. Hong to explore the problem through a behind-the-scenes look at a California prison.

Visual access inside U.S. prisons is extremely rare; Morrison got the AP access using connections with sources. The team was particularly mindful of how to humanize the men beyond just their blue uniforms and tattoos, especially as they expressed themselves with such vulnerability through the intensive therapy work and programs.

For extraordinary work that allowed AP’s audience to see the impact of the COVID epidemic in prisons, Morrison, Nasir and Hong share Best of the Week — First Winner honors.

AP23058845746787

Feb. 24, 2023

Best of the Week — First Winner

AP team documents growth of landmines’ hidden toll in Myanmar

Months of reporting by Victoria Milko, David Rising and a colleague in Myanmar led to the most authoritative look yet at the problem of landmines in the country.

Their story recounted how a boy was maimed and teenagers killed. The team was also able to get military defectors and others in the country to share with AP how civilians are used as human shields and how groups reuse mines they claim to have cleared. The story demonstrates that this will be an issue in the country for years to come.

For their work documenting the horror of landmines in one of the world’s most isolated countries, we are honored to award Milko, our AP colleague in Myanmar and Rising this week’s Best of the Week — First Winner.

AP 21075370911524

Feb. 03, 2023

Beat of the Week

(Honorable Mention)

Local church helps Norwegian Arctic mining community evolve amid climate-change impact

provided an intimate and visually captivating portrait of the Norwegian Arctic archipelago of Svalbard as its residents persevered through the round-the-clock polar night.

The AP team established a close rapport with the pastor in the community, joined the church’s children’s choir on a trip to a Russian/Ukrainian village, and spent a day at a century-old coal mine threatened with closure in two years. The trip had extra challenges for photo and video because it took place in mid-winter. For Cole, it meant developing a special sensitivity for light – from the glow of the aurora to the beam of a headlamp. Read more.

AP 23025713913297

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.

AP 23024840887234

Feb. 03, 2023

Beat of the Week

(Honorable Mention)

Cross-format collaboration produces in-depth coverage of L.A. area massacre

's coverage of Los Angeles County's worst massacre led to an array of stories and visuals that portrayed not only the human suffering and complex cultural significance of the community where the attack occurred, but also held police accountable for their hours-long delay in alerting the public that a mass killer was on the loose.

Bernard Condon, Jim Mustian and Julie Watson reconstructed a detailed timeline of the shooting to confidently report that it took five hours after the shooting for authorities to alert the public that the gunman was on the loose. The story was widely played and was followed by the Los Angeles Times, which played catch-up on its own turf. AP was one of only several outlets to obtain video surveillance footage showing a hero wresting the weapon from the shooter and was among the first news outlets to report details on all 11 victims.Read more.

AP 23022630720333

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.

AP 23029014785758

Feb. 03, 2023

Beat of the Week

(Honorable Mention)

AP team reveals broad scope of classified documents mishandling by top US officials

quickly pivoted off the spot news that Mike Pence was the latest high-profile figure to have classified records in his possession after he left office to lay bare the broad scope of documents mishandling by top officials.

Their story contained new revelations showing even more extensive issues with classified documents than previously known, including how former President Jimmy Carter found classified materials at his home in Plains, Georgia, on at least one occasion and returned them to the National Archives. Read more.

AP 23025007831010