Sept. 30, 2016

Best of the States

Lead crisis in housing project was actually no surprise

The down-at-the-heels industrial city of East Chicago, Indiana, made headlines around the world in August after the mayor ordered 1,000 people to get out of a 40-year-old public-housing complex because of lead contamination.

Many residents and observers expressed surprise: How could such a problem go overlooked for so many decades?

The Chicago bureau’s Sara Burnett and Jason Keyser teamed up for several weeks of intensive document and street reporting. What they found was as disturbing as the original news: The hazard shouldn't have been a surprise to anyone – because the housing complex had been built on the former site of a lead-products factory.

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May 06, 2022

Beat of the Week

(Honorable Mention)

All-formats team exposes housing crisis for college students

exposed a growing housing crisis hitting college campuses across the U.S.: A surge in the number of new students who deferred college during the worst of the COVID crisis has strained campus housing nationwide, leaving many students homeless, sleeping in cars or living in motel rooms while attending school — or causing them to further delay their education.Working with AP’s housing coverage team, San Francisco reporter Har found that while the college housing crunch may be most acute in California, it impacts college students nationwide.With video from Terry Chea and photos by Eric Risberg, digital storyteller Samantha Shotzbarger created a strong presentation that performed well both on AP platforms and with customers, but its real impact was on Facebook, where it was viewed 2.4 million times.Read more

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March 22, 2018

Best of the Week — First Winner

AP Exclusive: Kushner organization routinely filed false NYC housing documents

It started with a tip about tenants being harassed at a cluster of New York apartment buildings owned by Jared Kushner's family.

Bernard Condon, a New York-based business writer, began reporting the story last year, visiting buildings and interviewing the tenants, some of whom told similar stories of being subjected to loud construction at all hours, dust, rodents, lead paint in the air and heat suddenly shut off in the winter. Then, some were approached with offers of money to get them to move so the company could install higher-paying tenants.

But the tip did not truly develop until a tenant advocate source told Condon that Kushner Cos. had filed false paperwork for two buildings elsewhere in the city that made it easier to harass tenants during construction. Further, the organization had filed paperwork saying it had zero rent-regulated tenants in buildings throughout the city when, in fact, it had hundreds.

If the Kushner Cos. had disclosed those rent-regulated tenants, it could have triggered stricter city oversight, including possibly unscheduled "sweeps" on site by inspectors to keep the company from harassing tenants.

For dogged reporting that exposed the falsehoods of a company led by the president's son-in-law and trusted adviser, Condon earns the Beat of the Week.

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Jan. 05, 2018

Best of the States

ONLY ON AP: FEMA sells trailers for pennies on the dollar despite high demand from disaster victims

In the wake of Hurricane Harvey hitting Texas in August, Emily Schmall in Fort Worth, Texas, and Michael Sisak in Philadelphia teamed up to report exclusively that the Federal Emergency Management Agency had sold off scores of trailers with little to no damage in the days leading up to the storm. Their reporting had an immediate impact: FEMA said it had halted the auctions and would evaluate whether any of the units could be used for Harvey victims.

Fast forward to November, when Sisak noticed the auctions had resumed. Working with Central Desk editor Jeff McMurray, Sisak and Schmall took a pointed look at government waste, showing how FEMA was selling gently used trailers for pennies on the dollar rather than making them available for disaster victims.

For resourceful reporting that broke new ground, Schmall and Sisak share this week’s Best of the States prize.

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Feb. 23, 2018

Best of the States

AP collaboration exposes unequal lending practices across the country

When editors with Reveal from the Center for Investigative Reporting approached AP with a story on unfair lending practices, data editor Meghan Hoyer and data journalist Angel Kastanis saw an opportunity to use AP’s reach to expand the story and generate real impact.

Starting with 31 million records, representing nearly every mortgage loan application submitted in the U.S. in 2015 and 2016, they found that 50 years after the federal Fair Housing Act, people of color are still denied conventional mortgage loans at rates far higher than their white counterparts. The analysis found a pattern of denials across the country, including in major metropolitan areas.

While Reveal took the lead on the national story, Kastanis and Hoyer took the story deeper. The data distribution they prepared and shared with AP reporters and members showed 61 metro areas where applicants of color were more likely to be denied a conventional home purchase mortgage, even controlling for factors such as income, loan amount and neighborhood.

For taking the story to the next level in a way only AP can, Kastanis and Hoyer receive this week’s $300 Best of the States prize.

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April 29, 2022

Best of the Week — First Winner

Inside a Lviv apartment building, AP team gives a glimpse of life for displaced Ukrainians

London-based news director Susie Blann wanted to tell the story of how the city of Lviv had welcomed hundreds of thousands of Ukrainians who fled their homes during the Russian invasion but chose to remain in their country.

Blann, joined by photographer Nariman El-Mofty, video journalist Renata Brito and text reporter Cara Anna, looked behind the doors of one Lviv apartment block, earning the trust of people from Irpin, Kyiv and Kharkiv who had found temporary housing there and were willing to tell their stories.

The result was a remarkable presentation produced in collaboration with Natalie Castañeda, giving a deeply personal glimpse into the lives of some of the millions of people displaced by war.

For their tireless, resourceful work in demanding circumstances, the team of Blann, Anna, El-Mofty, Brito and Castañeda is the AP’s Best of the Week — First Winner.

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Dec. 06, 2019

Best of the States

Dual labors of love: Documenting a Chicago neighborhood that would not die

Chicago-based national writer Martha Irvine has always been interested in stories about the city’s neighborhoods that buck stereotypes. So when she learned of a grassroots project to “reclaim” abandoned housing on the city’s South Side, Irvine began what she calls “a labor of love.” 

She spent months getting to know the people of the Chicago Lawn neighborhood and their stories. Residents – ex-cons, immigrants, members of the urban working class – were not prepared to let their neighborhood succumb to the malaise that had engulfed other areas of the city, so they came together to make Chicago Lawn a desirable place to live. 

Irvine did it all – not just writing this remarkable story, but shooting the photos and video. The package received heavy play and elicited rewarding feedback. One woman called the work “incredibly uplifting,” adding, “Loved the video, too. Inspiration station.”

For a compelling all-formats package that shed light on a Chicago neighborhood’s success story and resonated with readers, Martha Irvine earns this week’s Best of the States award.

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June 19, 2020

Best of the States

AP teams deliver a deeply reported all-formats profile of George Floyd

The story of George Floyd’s death will likely endure as a pivotal moment in civil rights and police accountability, but his life – from a start in Houston public housing to his death in Minneapolis, where he hoped to start a new chapter – wasn’t lived in a spotlight. 

In a uniquely AP collaboration across states and disciplines, AP journalists turned to people who knew Floyd from his childhood through his adult years, weaving together his story in all formats, enhanced by existing video of the man. The result was a revealing, deeply reported profile, including Floyd’s brief turns as a football player, rapper and bouncer, time in prison and days spent trying to help mentor kids to avoid his mistakes. 

For persistent, collaborative and creative storytelling that goes to the heart of the tragedy that unfolded in Minneapolis, the multiformat team of Luis Andres Henao, Juan Lozano, Nomaan Merchant, Adam Geller, John Mone, David Phillip and Aaron Morrison shares this week’s Best of the States award.

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Aug. 24, 2016

Best of the States

Historic flooding in Louisiana

Many media were slow to respond to the historic flooding in Louisiana this month, but not The Associated Press. AP journalists provided timely, perceptive and poignant spot and enterprise stories from the very first hours of the torrential rains.

Aggressive cross-format coverage by a staff focused on stories of real people were key to covering the disaster. In text, the reporters included New Orleans administrative correspondent Rebecca Santana; Baton Rouge correspondent Melinda Deslatte; and newsmen Mike Kunzelman in Baton Rouge and Kevin McGill in New Orleans. Freelance photographer Max Becherer and video journalists John Mone of Houston, and Josh Replogle of Miami rounded out AP's team on the ground.

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Nov. 20, 2020

Beat of the Week

(Honorable Mention)

AP: White House election party under scrutiny for virus cases

used dogged source work to report on COVID infections among guests at President Donald Trump’s election night party. Election night eventually stretched into five long days in AP’s Washington bureau, leaving political journalists exhausted, but Colvin wasn’t done. She circled back on the East Room party meant to celebrate a Trump victory that never came. Colvin described the event as a classic case of the White House flouting coronavirus guidelines that were drawing new scrutiny after chief of staff Mark Meadows turned out to be among the guests who had tested positive for COVID-19. The story required determined reporting because, as Colvin wrote in the story, “the White House has been increasingly secretive about outbreaks. Many White House and campaign officials, as well as those who attended the election watch party, were kept in the dark” about who had contracted the virus. But within hours, the story proved prophetic as word surfaced that two more prominent attendees, Housing Secretary Ben Carson and campaign adviser David Bossie had also tested positive. In coming days, even more guests at the event tested positive. https://bit.ly/2Hm7Une

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Sept. 10, 2021

Beat of the Week

(Honorable Mention)

Distinctive reporting gives voice to fastest-growing US county

upended stereotypes with a deeply textured, intimate examination of a North Dakota community transformed by sudden growth.As part of the AP's ongoing coverage of the 2020 Census, Montana-based Brown went to McKenzie County, North Dakota — the center of the western oil boom and the fastest-growing county in the U.S. — to examine the impact of dramatic growth on a sleepy community on the western prairie. He charted the growth through the eyes of the people, from the old-timers who remembered riding horses through fields now lined with housing developments and oil wells, to newcomers finding their way into the fabric of the community.The story that emerged in Brown’s evocative words and photos came as something of a counternarrative to preconceived notions about how divided Americans are from one another. As revealed in graphics by Francois Duckett, a significant portion of McKenzie County’s newcomers are Hispanic, but many of those Brown interviewed described being embraced by the locals: the new restaurant owner helped along by customers who responded during the pandemic, or a transplanted family touched by the small-town charm of friendly faces saying hello in the grocery store.Brown’s nuanced reporting and writing gave his story a compelling narrative arc and showed the value of going to see firsthand what happens when a community is confronted with dramatic growth. https://aplink.news/bea

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March 18, 2022

Beat of the Week

(Honorable Mention)

AP: Liberal US cities change course, clearing homeless camps

Sara Cline documented how liberal cities from Seattle to Austin, Texas, to New York, are taking a far more aggressive approach in dealing with homelessness as they emerge from the pandemic.Cities that for years tolerated tent encampments in public parks and public spaces are responding to fed-up business owners and residents who say the levels of street disorder are too high. But people who work with the unhoused say newly elected mayors are targeting a vulnerable population to score political points, rather than dealing with the underlying issues of addiction and housing affordability.Cline, a Portland, Oregon-based Report For America AP fellow, worked with staff photographers Ted Warren in Seattle and Rich Pedroncelli in Sacramento, California, to document the increased camp sweeps and to highlight the issues of people living on the street. Her story was one of only two non-Ukraine stories in AP’s top 10 for reader engagement over the weekend. Read more

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Aug. 18, 2023

Best of the Week — First Winner

Speedy, smart coverage on Hawaii’s wildfire breaks AP engagement records

When a wildfire broke out in Maui and obliterated the centuries-old town of Lahaina, staff in AP’s Pacific Northwest sprang into action. Honolulu’s Audrey McAvoy was on the ground within hours, leveraging the AP’s unique Hawaii footprint for the first of many days of aggressive coverage that allowed AP to own the story from the beginning.

McAvoy was quickly joined by Portland, Oregon, reporter Claire Rush, who canceled her vacation; photographer Rick Bowmer and video journalists Ty O’Neil and Haven Daley. Jennifer Kelleher joined the reporting effort from Honolulu, where she anchored the story for days with help from Chris Weber in Los Angeles and worked longtime sources, including Gov. Josh Green, to keep AP ahead. Rush, O’Neil and Bowmer slept in an SUV for two days in the burn zone.

On Aug. 9, apnews.com received 7.6 million page views — a new record and a 32% increase over traffic the previous Wednesday, and the following day also broke previous records with 7.5 million page views.

The Live Updates fixture, artfully anchored by a changing cast of characters, was also a huge winner for AP and served as a “search tree” that led readers back to AP’s content again and again.

For extraordinary coverage of the devastating fire, accomplished despite huge logistical challenges, the AP Maui team earns Best of the Week — First Winner.

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July 15, 2022

Beat of the Week

(Honorable Mention)

AP duo wins over Santorini’s cloistered nuns, tells their stories

gained unprecedented access to a convent housing 13 cloistered Catholic nuns on the trendy Greek island of Santorini, a favorite of tourists. The nuns devote their lives to praying for those visitors and for the world — their near-constant prayer deemed necessary to support more publicly engaged ministries.The AP pair won the trust of the nuns, who opened the doors to areas of the convent off-limits to visitors while sharing what calls them to this sequestered life of devotion to God. The result is a distinctive and revealing package of Dell’Orto’s illuminating text and Giannakouris’ equally compelling photography.Read more

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Aug. 05, 2022

Beat of the Week

(Honorable Mention)

AP: Rents spike as investors buy up mobile home parks

combined national reporting and analysis with strong on-the-ground journalism for a unique story exposing how institutional investors are buying up mobile home parks, then raising rents to recoup their investments.Sparked by a tip, Casey identified a mobile home park in upstate New York where the mostly low-income and older residents have faced upkeep problems and repeated rent increases by corporate owners. Thompson visited the park to document residents’ concerns, while Casey worked his sources to illustrate how this is part of a larger trend that has hit parks across the country.Read more

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