March 29, 2024

Best of the Week — First Winner

AP exposes evidence that Burkina Faso security forces massacred civilians

West Africa Correspondent Sam Mednick obtained exclusive accounts from massacre survivors in the remote region of Zaongo in Burkina Faso.

Killings of civilians by security forces happen regularly in Burkina Faso yet are hardly reported amid a brutal war with jihadist rebels. Few survivors are brave enough to speak out and most flee, staying silent under a repressive regime. Government investigations are also rare, and no one is held accountable.

Mednick, who is based in Senegal, was looking into reports of one of many such violent incidents that she had seen video evidence of circulating in WhatsApp groups, when a source in Dakar said he had relatives who survived the massacre and could speak to her.

Through the trusted contact in Senegal, she was able to talk to a family that lived in the area and connect with survivors.

AP was the only media able to get the story and photos of this attack, one of several killings under investigation by the U.N. and government. To date, no one has been held accountable.

Washington-based newsperson Michael Biesecker was able to add reporting on Burkina’s military links to the U.S. and worked closely with Mednick from the start to develop the reporting.

For exposing a crime that was all but impossible to report on, Mednick and Biesecker’s story is Best of the Week — First Winner.

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April 05, 2024

Best of the Week — First Winner

AP team jumps into action to lead the pack on stunning Baltimore bridge collapse

When the Francis Scott Key Bridge collapsed in the middle of the night, AP staff from Bangkok to Baltimore contributed to all-formats reporting over a vast spectrum of spot and investigative angles.

It was just a bit after 3 a.m. when Baltimore reporter Lea Skene learned the Francis Scott Key Bridge had just crumpled into the river below.

Skene sprang into action and got a key fire department official on the phone. That allowed the AP to quickly give accurate details and avoid inflating the numbers of people missing, like other outlets did. Soon a team of AP reporters, photographers and video journalists joined to deliver coverage that earned huge play in newspapers around the world.

Annapolis reporter Brian Witte joined Skene on the ground and scored early-morning interviews with the governor and the chair of the National Transportation Safety Board. Video journalists Nathan Ellgren and Rick Gentilo provided coverage that was the most downloaded among customers globally for the week, particularly their early shots. Photographers Mark Schiefelbein and Matt Rourke delivered images of the crumpled bridge and of locals discussing how the collapse challenged Baltimore’s identity as a port city.

For delivering an encompassing and engrossing look at how the collapse of a bridge scarred a city’s psyche and uncovered potential trade-offs when it comes to safety, Skene, Witte, Schiefelbein, Rourke, Ellgren, Gentilo and the Baltimore Bridge Collapse Team are this week’s Best of the Week — First Winner.

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Feb. 16, 2024

Best of the Week — First Winner

Up close to Iceland’s volcanic eruption, AP dominates with awe-inspiring visuals

When tremors struck in the early hours of Thursday morning, AP stringer Marco di Marco knew he didn’t have long to reach the scene of Iceland’s latest volcanic eruption before access would be limited by rescuers. His swiftness put the AP ahead of competitors with stunning photos and video coverage that amazed global audiences.

Iceland-based visual journalist Marco di Marco, a specialist in volcano photography and videography, has developed strong relationships with scientists, rescuers and local officials in his work with the AP. He was en route as soon as the eruption occurred, immediately alerting Stockholm-based journalist David Keyton, who put in place all-formats coverage including much-used live video feeds.

Di Marco’s knowledge of the terrain and relationship with local law enforcement enabled him to quickly position himself near where the lava flow would breach a key road, providing unique coverage of the fast-moving event. On site, he filed compressed photos to the global photo desk, edited from his phone amid extremely limited network coverage. That enabled the AP to provide clients with strong visuals just as the world was waking up to news of the eruption. Throughout the day, he provided stunning photography and videography, including aerial perspectives, while also updating AP colleagues on the developing situation on the ground.

For being the driving force behind our stunning coverage of this volcanic eruption, Marco di Marco wins Best of the Week — First Winner.

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June 09, 2017

Best of the Week — First Winner

AP exclusive video: Inside Borough Market during London Bridge attack

It began with a photograph showing one of the London Bridge attackers lying dead with a police officer standing over him. The Associated Press had bought it from a freelancer and now wanted to interview him. When it proved difficult to reach him by phone, AP producer Natalia Gohl friended him on Facebook and discovered something even more extraordinary: nine minutes of harrowing video of police hunting for the attackers that he streamed live during the assault.

Gohl’s discovery – the feed was private and had only a few hundred views – and the intense negotiations that followed to obtain the video led to a global exclusive. It is the Beat of the Week.

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April 28, 2017

Best of the States

AP delivers unmatched cross-format coverage as Arkansas pursues unprecedented execution plan

In February, Arkansas announced a series of April executions that, if carried out, would make history in the United States: Over an 11-day period, the state would put to death eight inmates – two each on four days. No state had performed so many executions in such a short time since the Supreme Court re-instated the death penalty in 1976.

And Arkansas, which had not carried out an execution since 2005, had a curious justification for the expedited timetable: the supply of one of its three execution drugs was expiring at the end of the month. Officials were not confident they could obtain more.

Weeks before the first planned execution, a team of AP journalists in Arkansas and beyond set out to both chronicle the executions and offer deep and varied enterprise that broke news. Their work earns this week's Best of States award.

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Feb. 02, 2017

Best of the States

AP breaks news of Border Patrol chief’s departure

San Diego correspondent Elliot Spagat was on his way to the office when a two-word message landed in his inbox from a longtime source: “Morgan resigned.”

Spagat knew what it meant -- Border Patrol Chief Mark Morgan was out of his job after just seven months. Spagat had seen this coming because the powerful union representing border agents had endorsed Trump and did not like Morgan.

But more was needed to go to the wire with the breaking news. He went back to the tipster to get details and permission to use the source in a story. He also immediately enlisted homeland security reporter Alicia Caldwell in Washington.

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Dec. 08, 2016

Best of the States

Digging in for winter at Dakota Access pipeline protest

The Associated Press has aggressively covered the Dakota Access pipeline since even before construction began on the four-state pipeline to carry oil from North Dakota. The AP tracked the approval process and then was there every step of the way as the project spawned demonstrations from Native Americans and others who set up protest camps by the pipeline’s final piece near the Missouri River, saying construction would damage cultural artifacts and that a pipeline leak could pollute tribal water supplies. In the past few months, the AP has had coverage almost every day.

While Bismarck staffer James MacPherson had covered the story cross-format with the help of colleagues, a visually-focused enterprise project was in the works for December, bringing in staff from afar to provide video and photo elements of the largest camp to accompany a piece that was to explore the protest in the context of other issues being faced by Native Americans now and into the Trump administration. On Friday, Nov. 25, the news forced us to speed up our timeline for visuals as the Army Corps of Engineers gave a Dec. 5 deadline for protesters to get off the land.

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Nov. 17, 2016

Best of the States

Bikers gotta stick together: Springsteen rescue goes viral via AP

Having a rock star jump on the back of your motorcycle after you stopped to help him on the side of the road could be a lyric in a Bruce Springsteen song. But it really happened for a group of veterans in New Jersey _ and the AP was first to report the story that naturally went viral.

Late Saturday evening, New Jersey News Editor Josh Cornfield had wrapped up a weekend BNS shift when he got a tip that an American Legion post in Freehold, N.J., had posted a photo of one of their members with Springsteen. As it happened, a group from the legion had been out riding after a Veterans Day event when they noticed a stranded biker. Figuring “bikers gotta stick together,” they stopped to help.

Turns out, the stranded biker was The Boss.

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