March 01, 2019

Best of the Week — First Winner

Months of planning, smart execution result in dominating Oscars coverage

The envelope was opened, “Green Book” was announced as best picture at the 91st Oscars, and entertainment writer Andrew Dalton’s eyes shifted over to Spike Lee.

The director threw up his hands in exasperation and attempted to storm out of the Dolby Theatre before being told to return to his seat. Social media quickly lit up with disdain for the selection by the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences, and Dalton’s eyewitness reporting quickly fueled the criticism.

In a packed theater filled with actors and other journalists, Dalton reported what few saw and the television cameras didn’t show, giving the AP exclusive material and driving audiences to its comprehensive Oscars coverage.

Later that night, entertainment producer Mike Cidoni Lennox interviewed “Green Book’s” producers outside the Oscars’ official after-party, helping drive the following day’s coverage of the controversial win.

The reaction to the best picture winner capped dominating all-formats team coverage of the Oscars, the result of months of planning and preparation. AP customers received a steady stream of photos, video and stories, including film writer Jake Coyle’s deadline story which was viewed more than 88,000 times. Coyle had crafted prep for all the likely winners, allowing for fast updates when the envelopes were opened.

For their extensive planning, professional expertise and swift work, Dalton, Coyle and Lennox win AP’s Best of the Week award.

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April 01, 2022

Beat of the Week

(Honorable Mention)

Standout Oscar photos/coverage of the slap seen round the world

kept AP ahead with fast, definitive all-formats coverage of the Oscars moment that shocked the world: Will Smith’s slap of Chris Rock. As soon as Smith walked onto the stage and struck Rock over a joke about the actor’s wife, the AP Entertainment team pivoted its coverage of the otherwise generally upbeat Academy Awards ceremony, expediting remarkable photos, text and video of the confrontation — quickly but carefully. While other news outlets at first mischaracterized the incident, AP had it right from the start. Read more

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March 19, 2021

Beat of the Week

(Honorable Mention)

Backstage access makes AP a big winner on Grammy night

took advantage of agency exclusive all-formats backstage access at the Grammy Awards, resulting in a wealth of interviews for video, and photo access unmatched by wire service rivals. Isaza, Landrum and Pizzello underwent numerous COVID-19 screenings in the six days leading up to the show in order to gain access. That access came about because of the AP’s decade-plus relationship with the Recording Academy — and a firm stand by AP: Some artists demanded approvals of performance photos, which the AP declined, and some talent said they would only do interviews if certain questions were off limits. Again, no.The AP landed at least 20 video interviews with stars such as Dua Lipa, Da Baby, Miranda Lambert and H.E.R, touching on fashion, racial injustice, their pandemic experiences, the return to performing and more. The biggest wins were photos of Beyoncé and Taylor Swift, both rarely photographed by AP, on their big night. AP was one of four photo outlets onsite and the only photo news wire. Competitive news services were forced to use years-old pictures of the pair, as well as several other stars, with their stories.Isaza produced a behind-the-scenes video feature, and Fekadu’s mainbar — powered by photos from Pizzello and Strauss, and quickly updated thanks to his preparedness — racked up nearly 110,000 pageviews by Monday afternoon. Google listed AP’s story first in searches for Grammys or Beyoncé during the evening. https://apnews.com/hub/grammy-awards

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May 14, 2021

Beat of the Week

(Honorable Mention)

Outspoken Glenn Close opens up to AP about ‘loser’ label

scored a revealing interview with actress Glenn Close, who was candid about journalists and others who have focused more on her Oscar losses than on celebrating her eight career nominations. Fekadu, AP entertainment journalist, conducted the interview on Zoom for both text and video. Close addressed the Academy Awards issue, saying: "First of all, I don't think I’m a loser ... who in (the best supporting actress category) is a loser?” And in reference to her critics she emphatically ended with: “I say, (expletive) them!”The quotes were widely picked up by publications from Vanity Fair to the New York Daily News, while other outlets ran AP’s full story. Clients using the interview video included USA Today, MSN, Entertainment Tonight, Fox and ABC.https://tinyurl.com/3ye74rbwhttps://tinyurl.com/yrc3yxye

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Dec. 10, 2021

Best of the Week — First Winner

AP investigation, analysis reveals that despite diversity gains, racism still plagues US military academies

The AP’s groundbreaking investigation of racism and discrimination at the five elite U.S. military academies — based on experiences related by many graduates of color and exclusive analysis of decades of data — exposed racial gaps in the makeup of the academies’ student bodies and graduation rates, despite assurances of diversity and inclusion by the armed services.

Reporters Aaron Morrison and Helen Wieffering, and video journalist Noreen Nasir, gained the trust of current and former academy attendees who described discriminatory treatment, including experiences of being singled out for nonexistent infractions or treated like stereotypes.

Data intern Jasen Lo handled the analysis of demographics and graduation rates, finding that at the Naval Academy, for instance, there were 73 Black midshipmen in the class of 2000 — and just 77 in 2020. Black midshipmen also had the lowest graduation rate of any racial group at the academy.

For an enlightening and enterprising story that showed how far the U.S. military still needs to go to rectify racial inequality at its prestigious service academies, the team of Morrison, Wieffering, Nasir and Lo earns Best of the Week — First Winner.

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May 07, 2021

Beat of the Week

(Honorable Mention)

Deep sourcing puts AP ahead on Grammy nomination changes

was the first to report that the Grammys were in discussions to end its use of anonymous nomination review committees, which have been highly criticized for their lack of transparency. The Weeknd previously blasted the Grammy nominating process, calling it “corrupt” after he earned no nominations for the 2021 show despite having the year’s biggest single.Thanks to his deep sources at the Recording Academy, Fekadu, AP’s music editor, learned that the organization’s board of trustees was planning to discuss getting rid of the decades-old review committees. AP ran the story on a Friday morning before the board was scheduled to meet. Later that day, the Grammys rushed out a press release confirming the story and its decision to remove the review committees. The announcement came five days earlier than planned because of AP’s report, prompting several outlets to push the organization for more details.https://bit.ly/3xM1YZYhttps://bit.ly/3ui6z3X

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April 30, 2021

Beat of the Week

(Honorable Mention)

AP visual journalists lead the way at a one-of-a-kind Oscars

navigated issues of access, multiple locations and complex logistics in covering this year’s one-of-a-kind Academy Awards ceremony, altered from top to bottom by the pandemic.The event was one of the largest photo pools AP has ever run. AP’s remarkable access came as the result of years of relationship building with the film academy, which trusted AP to not only shoot photos of its marquee event, but also distribute those images to news outlets around the globe.Under the leadership of Kaufman, assistant director of photography, and with a workflow developed largely by photo editor Munoz, the team expedited some 1,500 still images to 11 members of the pool. Meanwhile, in London, Jankovic coordinated photographers and editors handling the Oscars’ global satellite locations — from Sydney to Stockholm to Kilkenny, Ireland, and points in between. Success meant assembling a team of AP staffers, including a team of 10 editors — most off-site due to pandemic restrictions — who quickly edited, captioned and transmitted the images. In addition, at the academy’s request, video journalist Turner shot the Oscars’ pool fashion feed – a key position that is highly valuable to clients looking for red carpet looks and unscripted moments.Bottom line: If you saw a photo from the red carpet, or a winner clutching the coveted statuette, chances are it was shot by the AP. The images were used in countless tweets, online stories and on dozens of newspaper front pages, notably above-the-fold play for shots of “Nomadland’s” best picture winners by Pizzello, who also authored a “Virus Diary” with his reflecions on being an entertainment photographer during the pandemic.https://bit.ly/3vpV8HDhttps://bit.ly/3gOI1eY

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Oct. 23, 2020

Beat of the Week

(Honorable Mention)

Exclusive: DEA recruits describe agency racism, ‘monkey noises’

reported exclusively on a string of recent discrimination complaints by minority recruits at the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration’s training academy, including one allegation that black trainees were taunted with “monkey noises.”Getting trainees to talk about such incidents was the real reporting feat of this story. After Mustian’s June piece about the chronic struggles the agency has had recruiting minorities, several people both inside and outside of the DEA contacted him with accounts of discrimination, saying racism permeated their time at the academy from their first day of basic training, alleging exceptions were routinely made for underperforming white trainees while Blacks were held to an appreciably higher standard.

In the most glaring case, a recruit told Mustian that a firearms instructor called a Black trainee a “monkey” to his face and subjected a group of Black trainees to monkey sounds over a loudspeaker. The DEA did not deny the incident and the instructor retired before he could be disciplined. Mustian’s story played heavily, but most significantly it prompted several more people to contact him with new accounts of discrimination within the DEA.

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Feb. 15, 2019

Beat of the Week

(Honorable Mention)

Ariana Grande fires back at Grammys producer after AP story

for raising with Ken Ehrlich, producer of the Grammys, the question of why Ariana Grande did not perform at the awards show. Ehrlich said that the singer had declined due to inadequate time to prepare. Within moments of the report, Grande took to Twitter, pointing to Fekadu’s story and telling her 61 million followers that Ehrlich’s explanation was untrue, blaming Ehrlich for “stifling” her and rejecting the songs she offered to perform. https://bit.ly/2S2IbiL

Nov. 05, 2021

Beat of the Week

(Honorable Mention)

AP’s latest on Louisiana State Police: A culture of impunity, nepotism, abuse

deconstructed how the Louisiana State Police scandal of beatings and cover-ups could have gone on for so long, digging deeper into the institutional thinking of the agency, its history and the background of key figures. They interviewed dozens of current and former troopers and uncovered thousands of pages of documents that described an entrenched culture of impunity, nepotism and in some cases outright racism.This story, the latest in their investigative series stemming from the deadly 2019 arrest of Black motorist Ronald Greene, was built around a father who rose to second in command of the state agency despite being reprimanded for racist behavior, and his son who became one of the state police’s most violent troopers — with the brunt of his use of force directed at Black people.Mustian and Bleiberg, federal law enforcement reporters, also had never-before-reported details of a 2019 cheating scandal in the state police academy that targeted the entire class for dismissal. In the end, nearly everyone in the class was allowed to graduate. And they conducted a revealing interview with the head of the state police in which he admitted he doesn’t know how many other cases like Ronald Greene’s could still be out there because “we’ve not looked at every video.”The story, accompanied by video and photos by multiformat journalist Allen Breed, added to calls for a federal investigation, and Louisiana lawmakers created a special committee to dig into reports of excessive force. The piece also resonated with readers, scoring strong play online and ranking as one of the most-engaged stories of the week.https://aplink.news/3zuhttps://aplink.video/ysmhttps://aplink.news/xda

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Oct. 15, 2021

Beat of the Week

(Honorable Mention)

Global teamwork delivers exclusive coverage of Nobel Prizes

used exceptional planning, nimble teamwork and multiformat expertise to elevate AP’s annual Nobel Prize coverage with a string of exclusives, first interviews, live video and sharp reporting overall.Starting on Monday, Oct. 4, with the Nobel Prize for physiology and medicine awarded to two scientists based in the United States, AP quickly tracked down laureate David Julius. New York-based video journalist Ted Shaffrey convinced the winner to join a special zoom booking that was left open for the duration of the awards to expedite interviews with the laureates.That early success was repeated by AP staffers across continents and formats as the awards were announced throughout the week, including the Nobel Peace Prize awarded to journalist Maria Ressa in the Philippines and journalist Dmitry Muratov in Russia. Southeast Asia news director Kiko Rosario used his deep contacts in the Philippines to get the first external on-camera interview with Ressa, the first Filipino winner of the peace prize, while in Russia, AP offered an exclusive live video interview with Muratov. Shortly afterwards, video journalist Kostya Manenkov and senior photo editor Alexander Zemlianichenko had exclusive access as Muratov celebrated his win with champagne in front of his colleagues.AP’s comprehensive coverage was fast and accurate and the workflow smooth as Berlin-based correspondent Frank Jordans anchored the text reporting, working with specialist writers in each case. Stockholm-based video journalist David Keyton coordinated the spot coverage of the announcements and the subsequent global reactions.https://apnews.com/hub/nobel-p...https://aplink.news/ikuhttps://aplink.video/a04https://aplink.video/fgqhttps://aplink.news/wwzhttps://aplink.video/hn0

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June 14, 2018

Best of the States

Lobbyists – including House speaker’s brother – influence Florida’s payments to victims

In Florida, the Legislature has to approve court awards – beyond a capped amount – for lawsuits alleging wrongdoing by a state or local agency.

So when Florida Tallahassee reporter Gary Fineout began hearing about a surge in payouts to victims and families harmed by government actions, he began digging into public and legislative records. What he found confirmed the influence of lobbyists, and of one lobbyist in particular: the House speaker’s brother.

Fineout found that claims lobbied by the speaker’s brother had a substantial rate of success. Of the $37.5 million in claims bills approved over the past two years, nearly half was awarded to victims represented by Michael Corcoran, brother of Florida’s House speaker.

One state lawmaker, a candidate for attorney general, said the process needs fixing, and said that Florida should have a codified, egalitarian process for awarding payments, one that doesn’t rely on who has the best lobbyist.

Fineout's story received extensive play, including a rare banner headline atop A1 in the state's largest newspaper, the Tampa Bay Times. The Sun-Sentinel newspaper said in an editorial that “Florida owes thanks to Gary Fineout ... for shedding light on a dark side of Florida government.”

For work that South News Director Ravi Nessman called a “perfect example of the kind of tough, accountability reporting that we prize so much from our statehouses,” Fineout wins this week's Best of the States award.

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Dec. 20, 2019

Best of the States

AP Exclusive: Accidental shootings show nationwide gap in police training

A mother shot fatally shot in front of her 3-year-old son. A suspect killed while an officer tried to handcuff him. A Homeland Security agent was shot at a Texas high school by a U.S. marshal fumbling with equipment. These are among the more than 1,400 unintentional discharges found by Seattle reporter Martha Bellisle in an investigation that highlights the shortcomings of police weapons training.

No agency tracks how often local, state and federal officers accidentally fire their weapons. Over the course of more than a year, Bellisle exhaustively documented 1,422 unintentional discharges by 258 law enforcement agencies since 2012.

With contributions from colleagues in photo and video – including the story of an Iowa woman who was killed when an officer’s gun discharged, leaving her husband and children still scarred by the tragedy – the all-formats package received prominent play.

For an exclusive that sheds light on a virtually undocumented area of firearms safety, Bellisle earns this week’s Best of the States award.

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March 13, 2020

Best of the Week — First Winner

AP Decision Desk caps stellar Super Tuesday with instant call: California for Sanders

On Super Tuesday afternoon, AP’s Stephen Ohlemacher and Emily Swanson were locked away in a conference room – isolated from their colleagues in the Washington bureau – reviewing incoming results from AP VoteCast. AP’s survey – developed to be more accurate than traditional exit polling – was already revealing what was about to happen on the biggest night of the Democratic presidential primary campaign.

The VoteCast data revealed trends in absentee voting and shifting preferences as Democratic candidates dropped out of the race, giving AP the evidence it needed to call California for Bernie Sanders as the state’s polls closed at 11:00 Eastern. News outlets relying on exit polls would not make that call for more than a week. 

Meanwhile, Seth Borenstein was crunching the numbers on the all-important delegate count, a task that required days of painstaking analysis of incomplete data to reach this conclusion: Joe Biden won more delegates on Super Tuesday than did Sanders.

Like the Caliofornia race call, news of Biden’s delegate victory rocketed around the world. 

For completing in-depth, accurate analysis of election data on deadline, enabling AP to tell the complete story of Super Tuesday before all others, Swanson, Ohlemacher and Borenstein win AP’s Best of the Week award.

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July 13, 2018

Best of the Week — First Winner

Hallmarks of AP journalism showcased in scoops on immigration, Thai cave rescue

Exclusivity and precision – both hallmarks of the AP – were on full display last week as teams of journalists covered the roiling immigration debate in the U.S. and the gripping story of the Thai boys soccer team trapped deep inside a flooded cave.

A day after America’s Independence Day, investigative reporters Martha Mendoza and Garance Burke revealed that some immigrant U.S. Army reservists and recruits who enlisted in the military with a promised path to citizenship were being discharged.

In Thailand days later, an AP team was first to accurately report that Thai authorities had freed four boys from the cave, rather than six as other media said. It was part of a two-week, around-the-clock multi-format effort that included unmatched live shots from the scene.

For exclusive reporting that forced readers – and customers – to take notice, Mendoza and Burke and the Thailand team of Tassanee Vejpongsa, Chris Blake, Yves Dam Van, Shonal Ganguly, Sakchai Lalit, Kaweewit Kaewjinda, Jason Corben, Grant Peck, Somphong Saisomboon and Preeyapa Khunsong share Beat of the Week prizes.

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