Oct. 14, 2022

Beat of the Week

(Honorable Mention)

AP/‘Frontline’ investigation: Russia stealing, selling Ukraine’s grain

used satellite imagery and open source video and photos, as well as ship-tracking data to document a massive operation in which Russia has been stealing Ukrainian grain and selling it to countries in the Middle East. Russia has denied the practice; AP and its partner, PBS “Frontline,” proved otherwise.While other news organizations have reported on the grain theft, the AP team first to track the smuggling operation, from silos in occupied Ukraine all the way to grocery store shelves in Turkey and Syria. The jnvestigation was also the first to name names, tracing the owners of the companies that were shipping and receiving the grain, and their ties to Russian President Vladimir Putin.Read more

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Oct. 28, 2022

Beat of the Week

(Honorable Mention)

International team examines trade in saltwater aquarium fish

produced a unique two-part series about how and why aquarium fish are captured and transported around the world. Like many good stories, this package had multiple layers, some of them dark.AP’s team in Indonesia went on a dive with a fisherman and visited breeding operations in Bali, and met with middlemen at a warehouse in Jakarta. They reported how fish are illegally caught using cyanide; it weakens the fish but also kills many while destroying the reefs they inhabit.In the U.S., the team spent months persuading U.S. Fish and Wildlife officials to agree to an on-camera interview. The journalists faced similar issues getting pet stores and enthusiasts to talk about such a sensitive topic. The second story, about captive breeding, presented its own challenges, mainly because the tricks and techniques of captive breeding are such closely held secrets.After months of newsgathering and editing by AP journalists, the team had it all, delivering a deeply reported package stocked with vivid photos and video.Read more

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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. 28, 2022

Best of the Week — First Winner

AP breaks stunning story of child caught in custody battle between Afghan couple, US Marine

The story was nothing short of shocking: An Afghan baby, the only surviving member of her immediate family following an American attack on their home, was brought to the United States for medical treatment only to be taken from the Afghan couple who raised her as their own and — against the couple’s wishes — placed in the custody of a U.S. Marine attorney and his wife.

AP reporters Juliet Linderman, Martha Mendoza and Claire Galofaro broke the competitive story after poring through hundreds of pages of legal filings and documents, talking to Afghan officials and pushing relentlessly for interviews with everyone involved. Then the trio wove their reporting into a beautifully written, compelling narrative that reads like an international thriller. The piece prompted strong reader reaction, with many asking how they could hold the government agencies involved responsible.

For intensive, lightning-fast work to put AP first on this deeply reported, deeply moving story, Linderman, Galofaro and Mendoza earn AP’s Best of the Week — First Winner honors.

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Nov. 04, 2022

Beat of the Week

(Honorable Mention)

Only on AP: No US-born Black players in the World Series

noticed at the 2005 World Series that the Houston Astros fielded a team without any U.S.-born Black players, prompting the AP baseball writer to wonder when he would cover a World Series without such a player on either team. The answer: 2022.Leaning on his previous reporting, reaching out to sources and working closely with Race and Ethnicity reporter Aaron Morrison for precise language about Black identity in baseball clubhouses, Walker and AP were alone in reporting that this year’s Astros-Phillies Fall Classic would be the first since 1950 without any U.S.-born Black players.In a World Series full of big names and rich storylines, Walker’s piece was undoubtedly the buzz of baseball in the days before Game 1. It was the top Google result for searches of “World Series,” “MLB” and “baseball” for several days, and it was cited widely even outside the sports world, by NPR, CNN and others.Read more

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Nov. 04, 2022

Beat of the Week

(Honorable Mention)

AP/‘Frontline’ investigation: Russian brutality was strategic

of the AP teamed up with PBS “Frontline” on a joint investigation showing that the much-reported Russian violence against civilians in and around Bucha, Ukraine, was not carried out by rogue soldiers. Rather, it was strategic and organized brutality, perpetrated in areas under tight Russian control and where military officers — including a prominent general — were present.For a pair of stories, AP and “Frontline” interviewed dozens of witnesses and survivors, reviewed audio intercepts and surveillance camera footage, and obtained Russian battle plans.One of Kinetz’s stories tied the violence to Russian Col. Gen. Alexander Chaiko, who was in command. The other shows the wrenching impact of the Russian terror campaign on one woman who lost the man she called her “big, big love.”Read more

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Nov. 04, 2022

Beat of the Week

(Honorable Mention)

AP reveals lawsuits setting up midterm election challenges

captured the surprising extent of pre-election lawsuits — more than 100 filed around the country, largely by Republicans — as the legal action lays the groundwork for challenges to midterm election results. The suits target rules for mail-in voting, early voting, voter access and registration, and more.White House reporter Long identified the broader trend and also uncovered an entirely unreported GOP strategy of approaching the midterms with thousands of volunteers and lawyers hired across the nation. Her assessment: The legal actions likely preview a contentious post-election period.Read more

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Dec. 16, 2022

Best of the Week — First Winner

AP spotlights remarkable rise of federal prison official accused of misconduct

Mike Balsamo in Washington and Mike Sisak in New York trained a lens on a single Bureau of Prisons official, Thomas Ray Hinkle, who received promotions across four decades despite repeated allegations of abuse, misconduct and even admissions by him that he’d beaten inmates in the past as part of a gang of guards called “The Cowboys.”

After being tipped earlier this year to Hinkle’s past, Sisak and Balsamo went about securing and scrutinizing 1,600 pages of documents that provided details of the allegations and developed key sources within the prisons system who corroborated the accusations. Finally, toward the end of the reporting process, they secured comment from Hinkle and the bureau, both of which acknowledged his previous excesses but said he was a changed man.

For a dogged and impactful investigation that caps a year in which their reporting has shaken the hierarchy of the federal prison systems and forced officials to confront abuses long out of public view, Balsamo and Sisak are Best of the Week 1st Winners.

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Jan. 27, 2023

Beat of the Week

(Honorable Mention)

Dedication to the #MeToo beat leads to exclusive on dissolution of Time’s Up

was approached with the exclusive that the anti-harassment organization, Time’s Up, was folding. The New York-based entertainment writer’s story was uniquely authoritative thanks to her years of diligent reporting on the #MeToo movement that landed her the scoop.

The remaining resources of the organization, which became beset by scandals, are going to a legal defense fund administered by the separate National Women’s Law Center.Read more.

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Jan. 27, 2023

Beat of the Week

(Honorable Mention)

Confidential document reveals key human role in gunshot-detection technology

broke the news that gunshot-detection company ShotSpotter gives its human reviewers broad discretion to overrule an artificial intelligence-powered law enforcement tool’s determination about whether something is a gunshot. The exclusive came after Burke, an investigative reporter in San Francisco, obtained a confidential ShotSpotter document. The document provided a unique window into the company whose data is sent to police and used in criminal cases nationwide.Read more.

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April 21, 2023

Best of the Week — First Winner

Telling the epic story of perilous migration through one lost boat 

Two years ago, Barcelona video journalist Renata Brito learned of a mysterious boat that had washed up in Tobago with dead men aboard. With that, she and colleague Felipe Dana, a photographer and video journalist, began a dogged quest to find out who the men were, what had happened to them, and what heartbreak and unresolved questions they had left behind.     From Mauritania to France and Tobago, they found forensic evidence and built trust with a network of sources. By the end of their exhaustive journey, they knew who these men were and what led them to their deaths. They even confirmed one man’s identity with a DNA test. 

Immersive storytelling’s Nat Castañeda worked with Brito and Dana to shape the project, including a 13-minute minidocumentary. Immersive developer Linda Gorman worked up a complex interactive, and an Audience Engagement team led by Sophia Eppolito spent weeks developing a social plan.   

For compiling the compelling and tragic story of a group of doomed migrants who would otherwise have been forgotten, Brito, Dana, Gorman, Castañeda and Eppolito earn this week’s Best of the Week — First Winner. 

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July 28, 2023

Best of the Week — First Winner

AP’s Nairobi bureau delivers searing, all-formats look at police violence and cover-up

In Kenya, police brutality has long been criticized. But the violence this month against demonstrators still shocked. AP delivered an all-formats documentation of it, along with attempts to hide it.

As Kenyans protested new taxes and the cost of living, freelance photographer Brian Inganga delivered widely shared images of several people shot by police in one of Nairobi’s most volatile neighborhoods.

As rumors circulated about the number of people shot dead, AP confirmed that police received orders not to report the deaths, not even to their oversight authority, which is illegal. East Africa correspondent Cara Anna combined that with data from a medical-legal watchdog group to show that police had killed more than 30 people.

East Africa writer Evelyne Musambi wrote about one of the victims, a young man who carted water. Kenya’s president, William Ruto, had relied on the support of just these kinds of working class “hustlers” to win office, but they took the brunt of the violence. Video journalist Josphat Kasire was instrumental in finding the victim’s family through patient efforts at the morgue.

For showing the scale of violence that the police wanted to keep under wraps, all while protecting each other’s backs amid street violence, Inganga, Anna, Musambi and Kasire are this week’s Best of the Week — First Winner.

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Sept. 08, 2023

Best of the Week — First Winner

Reporting raises questions about abortion story told during GOP debate, scores several firsts

It was among the most puzzling moments of the first Republican presidential debate: Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis refused to answer a question about supporting a national abortion ban and instead offered a story about a woman he met who had survived “multiple abortion attempts” and was saved after being “discarded in a pan.” The tale was clearly meant to curry favor with the conservative voters who decide GOP primaries, but was it true?

Dogged reporting over several days by a team of three reporters — democracy team misinformation reporters Ali Swenson and Christine Fernando, and Miami-based national political reporter Adriana Gomez Licon — found that the woman did exist but that her birth story was far more complicated than the version described by DeSantis. While other outlets also pursued DeSantis’ story, the AP team had several significant firsts: They were was the first to interview the woman and get her story first hand; the first to surface newspaper stories from the 1950s that offered a much different version of events; and the first to get historical photos from the time she was born, including one showing her as a baby being discharged from the hospital. These allowed AP to distinguish its coverage of a nationally significant moment in the GOP presidential primary.

Swenson quickly found a few old news articles about the woman and two YouTube videos that featured her telling her story for anti-abortion advocacy groups and looped in Gomez Licon, who had spent years covering DeSantis in Florida, and Fernando, who had covered the national abortion debate extensively in her previous job.

It was Fernando who reached the woman, Miriam “Penny” Hopper, and persuaded her to talk to the AP. Gomez Licon meanwhile worked with news researcher Rhonda Shafner and local libraries in central Florida to surface newspaper clippings from 1956 about the medical effort to save the baby.

For scoring significant firsts on a story that widely resonated, Swenson, Fernando and Gomez Licon win this week’s first citation for Best of the Week.

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