June 23, 2023

Best of the Week — First Winner

The Great Grift: How billions in COVID-19 relief aid was stolen or wasted

After a monthslong analysis, the AP revealed that at least 10% of $4 trillion in federal COVID-19 relief money was stolen or misspent.

The story was sparked by a simple question in January from Acting Global Investigations Editor Alison Kodjak: How much relief money was stolen? Richard Lardner, of the global investigations team, teamed up with climate reporter Jennifer McDermott and data team reporter Aaron Kessler to get an answer. They conducted scores of interviews, read dozens of government indictments and reports and tracked down experts.

In the end, they determined scam artists potentially stole more than $280 billion in COVID-19 relief funding, and another $123 billion was wasted or misspent — a combined loss of 10% of the relief aid the U.S. government has so far disbursed. Senior video producer Jeannie Ohm and motion graphics designer Eva Malek created an animated video explainer, narrated by Kessler, that succinctly laid out how easy it was for fraudsters to make off with so much money. Multimedia editor Kevin Vineys created a series of compelling graphics that helped break down government spending and potential theft.

For spending months investigating and documenting how much of the federal government’s $4.2 trillion in COVID-19 relief was looted or misspent, Lardner, McDermott, Kessler, Vineys and Malek earn Best of the Week — First Winners.

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July 07, 2023

Best of the Week — First Winner

AP goes into overdrive, with honesty and sensitivity, to document a restive France  

The Paris suburb of Nanterre was at the heart of violent protests after a French policeman killed a 17-year-old at a traffic stop, and AP journalists in Paris worked around the clock and at a competitive disadvantage to document the unrest and its aftermath.    

Photographer Christophe Ena was among the first on the scene, taking AP’s first photos and video of flames in Nanterre on the first night and alerting our customers — and competitors — of the gravity of the story. He and a photographer from the European Pressphoto Agency were the only international journalists on the scene at the time and worked together to ensure each other’s safety as tensions rose around them.    

Cara Anna, arriving from Nairobi, was among just a few journalists to cover the boy’s funeral and discreetly filmed a brief video of the cemetery where people were gathering to mourn. It was the only footage published of the event, but also respected the organizers’ request not to have cameras at the funeral itself.    

For sensitive, honest work in unpredictable, often hostile conditions to show a part of France tourists see rarely and understand even less, Ena and Anna earn this week’s first citation for Best of the Week. 

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June 16, 2023

Best of the Week — First Winner

A boat carrying 180 Rohingya vanished, underscoring migration politics led to rise in deaths

Sydney investigative correspondent Kristen Gelineau, who has covered the Rohingya crisis since 2017, heard from a young Rohingya source about a surge in people leaving a camp in Bangladesh. And then one boat vanished.

Two sources confirmed that they’d heard about the boat vanishing. There was no official investigation — and not a single word had been written about the missing migrants.

It took two months of all-out lobbying, calling in favors from every contact in Bangladesh, to finally get a visa to go. Gelineau left 48 hours later, and Dhaka video journalist Al-emrun Garjon and photographer Mahmud Hossain Opu joined her. There were so many families desperate to talk that the AP journalists literally had a line of them waiting to speak. Many were in tears, clutching photos of their lost loved ones. Huge credit goes to our Rohingya sources, who literally risked their lives to get the truth out about this boat — tracking down sources, triple-checking facts, translating. We cannot name them for their safety, but we very much want to acknowledge them.

McKinnon de Kuyper put together the heartbreaking video, which included the call from the woman on the boat and the story was our most engaged on AP digital platforms for the day, with a perfect engagement score of 100.

For persistence in telling a story that might otherwise have remained untold, Gelineau, Garjon, Opu, de Kuyper and anonymous stringers in Bangladesh with this week’s first citation for Best of the Week.

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June 09, 2023

Best of the Week — First Winner

Despite great physical risks, AP delivers searing live coverage of clashes in Kosovo 

Many of the AP’s most iconic images from the 1998–99 war in Kosovo were the products of video crew Vojislav Stjepanovic and Radul Radovanovic in Bosnia.    

Their deep experience meant they knew something big was about to happen when minor disturbances broke out following mayoral victories by ethnic Albanians in Serb-majority towns where Serbs overwhelmingly boycotted the elections.   

Soon, the situation in northern Kosovo unraveled as ethnic Serb demonstrators began clashing with NATO-led peacekeepers. Stjepanovic and Radovanovic were at the heart of the action, documenting the story and broadcasting it live, even with Molotov cocktails and tear gas flying just a stone’s throw away.    

Some journalists fled the scene, and others were targeted while trying to cover the story. Stjepanovic and Radovanovic found a balcony just above the fray that offered a wide view of the clashes, where soldiers were being pelted with rocks and firearms were being discharged. They delivered live shots through it all, a feat unmatched by local channels, let alone international competitors.    

When the violence finally cooled, 30 international soldiers and more than 50 protesters had been injured. The crew delivered 11 hours of live coverage through it, and Belgrade producer Ivana Bzganovic swiftly produced multiple edits that won hundreds of hits.   

For showing immense bravery in providing images no one else could, Stjepanovic, Radovanovic and Bzganovic are this week’s Best of the Week — First Winner.  

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May 26, 2023

Best of the Week — First Winner

The secret networks that circumvent Honduras’ abortion ban: How an AP team documented the invisible

For years, AP Mexico photo stringer Ginnette Riquelme was aware of clandestine networks helping women obtain abortions in Honduras, where they are banned under all circumstances.   

The locations were hidden, the phones untraceable, the contacts used code words to communicate. But Riquelme had a vision of how — and why — to document something that is both illegal and heavily stigmatized. With a grant from the International Women’s Media Foundation, she joined forces with Honduran journalist Iolany Pérez in El Progreso and Mexico City reporter María Verza.   

Persistence and the ability to build the trust of more than a dozen women who helped or had received the networks’ assistance resulted in a previously unseen composite of an underground system built up over years of prohibition.   

For journalism that illustrates the invisible, and in-depth and unmatched coverage of an issue that resonates far outside Honduras, this team earns Best of the Week — First Winner. 

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May 19, 2023

Best of the Week — First Winner

AP’s cross-format coverage across borders dominates Title 42 coverage  

AP journalists in the U.S. and Latin America had been here before: Pandemic-related asylum restrictions in the U.S., known as Title 42, were set to expire at least twice in the previous year until courts intervened. This time though, they knew it was for real and spent weeks and months reporting smart stories about the consequences, from disinformation spread to would-be asylum seekers thousands of miles away to major shifts in U.S. immigration policy that will have effects for years to come. But it was in the days surrounding the expiration date itself that the expertise and collaboration of colleagues from California to Colombia and El Paso to Washington shone.  

Through combined efforts and seamless collaboration, these journalists produced not only deeply reported, people-focused and contextual spot coverage that showcased the AP footprint, but also resulted in a truly layered report including live video, photo galleries, dozens of video edits, vignettes, spot takeouts and several days of smart follows that dominated search and page views.   

For an extraordinary effort that showed the AP’s breadth and depth of knowledge on this issue, the team earns Best of the Week — First Winner. 

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May 05, 2023

Best of the Week — First Winner

AP leads on coverage of Montana transgender lawmaker with authoritative, visual and fast coverage

When protesters erupted in chants of “Let her speak” from the gallery inside the Montana statehouse, and silenced transgender lawmaker Zooey Zephyr lifted her microphone triumphantly in the air, longtime AP reporter Amy Hanson was there to capture the action with her cell phone for video, photos and words. It was the start of a week of agenda-setting, visual and comprehensive coverage by Hanson and her colleagues as Zephyr’s compelling dispute with Republican state leaders captivated audiences, culminating in the GOP voting to bar the freshman legislator from the House floor on Thursday. The powerful coverage throughout the week showcased the value of AP’s legislative footprint and was a textbook example of how we can dominate a story when we surge resources and harness our collective expertise.Hanson worked tirelessly from Helena, Montana, all week and tapped into her deep sourcing and knowledge of state politics to provide impeccable and fast reporting. Her previous source building with Zephyr after she was elected last year proved invaluable, giving the AP access to the lawmaker all week. Billings-based reporter Matt Brown and Salt Lake City-based reporter Sam Metz took turns stitching together well-written spot stories each day, updating the “What to Know” and prepping urgent new series for the next key moment in the saga. The duo also produced a smart takeout about the rise of conservative caucuses like the one in Montana that fueled the dispute.Denver-based video journalist Brittany Peterson and political reporter Nick Riccardi also went to Montana to supplement Amy’s on-the-ground reporting. Nick quickly pulled together a deeply reported and beautifully written story about support for Zephyr in her hometown, the college town of Missoula. Colleagues from around the AP coordinated with the Rockies staff to deliver several smart takes about the standoff, including a look at the underlying rhetoric in the dispute and how Republicans in Montana and Tennessee tried calling peaceful protests "insurrections" to downplay the deadly Jan. 6, 2021, assault on the U.S. Capitol.

For thorough, nuanced coverage that kept the AP out front, Hanson, Peterson, Riccardi, Brown and Metz win this week’s first citation for Best of the Week.

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