Feb. 02, 2024

Best of the Week — First Winner

AP scores with the kiss seen around the world

Hail Mary? Hail Julio. As swarms of players and media surrounded Taylor Swift and Travis Kelce after the Kansas City Chiefs’ AFC championship win, photographer Julio Cortez captured the perfect shot: the couple kissing on the field, Swift’s hand pressed against Kelce’s cheek. It was an intimate moment amid chaos, one that only Cortez — AP’s chief photographer for Texas and Oklahoma, temporarily returned to Baltimore — got. Other outlets made photos of the couple embracing, but Cortez had the singular — and viral — angle.

Before Sunday’s game, the only photos of Swift’s football attendee era were made in tunnels or from afar as she watched in luxury suites. But Cortez knew that if the Chiefs punched their ticket to another Super Bowl, players’ friends and families would end up on the field. With AP’s Matt Slocum, Alex Brandon and Nick Wass in their assigned on-field positions, Cortez called an audible, walking around the stage to find Swift. A believer in being “pushy but professional,” Cortez “sweet-talked” bodyguards to get into unique position. Swift and Kelce’s reunion was, well, swift. As Kelce “gave her the fastest kiss,” Cortez jumped in front of the NFL Films camera, raising his own over a guard’s head. About a minute after the photo was made, photo editor Mike Stewart knew it was the shot of the game, affixing the golden APTOPIX stamp. It was immediately picked up by hundreds, rocketing around the world with usage by customers ranging from The New York Times, People to India’s Hindustan Times and Argentina’s La Voz.

For an image that’s assuredly a first-ballot Hall of Famer, Cortez is Best of the Week — First Winner.

AP24028853845342

Sept. 09, 2022

Beat of the Week

(Honorable Mention)

AP raises the bar for anniversary coverage of Diana’s death

marked the 25th anniversary of Princess Diana’s death with innovative multiformat, multiday coverage that resonated with AP customers and audiences.Planning began months earlier to make AP’s coverage stand out from typical anniversary fare. Among the highlights were an evocative mainbar capturing Diana’s life, death and legacy; a revealing AP Was There timeline of the night she died; an exclusive interview with the doctor who treated Diana at the accident scene; a video showing her image painted inside the tunnel where she died; and a video of AP staffers recounting what it was like to cover her death and aftermath — all of it presented in compelling fashion and promoted on AP’s social platforms.Read more

Di AP 21179567637095 1

April 26, 2019

Best of the States

A powerful retrospective and breaking news, 20 years after Columbine mass shooting

Twenty years have passed since the Columbine high school massacre, which was, to many people, the beginning of school shootings as we know them. In those years, life has changed: Mass shootings happen again and again, schoolchildren participate in lockdowns instead of fire drills, and many reflect on the moment in time when two young men took 13 lives with them on their suicidal quest.

AP was uniquely positioned to cover the two decades since the massacre, with journalists who were there, those who cover the Colorado community every day, and experts in polling, education and guns. Stories by Denver reporter Kathleen Foody and videojournalist Peter Banda led a deep all-formats package by dozens of journalists across the AP telling not just of the carnage but of those who survived it, their struggle, and the future.

But all the planning couldn't prepare anyone for this spot development: Early in the week, Sol Pais, a young Florida woman, prompted panic over a possible attack at Columbine, later taking her own life near the Colorado school. Miami reporter Kelli Kennedy tracked down a good friend of Pais who not only filled in personal details about her in an exclusive interview, but supplied photos of Pais and cast doubt on the official narrative about her friend.

The overarching theme of the spot and enterprise coverage focused on the short and long-term mental health issues from school shootings. The result was a unique, meaningful package that received impressive play nationally – online and in print. The video was among the top-used AP videos of the week.

For their work spearheading the package, and breaking news, Foody, Banda and Kennedy win this week’s Best of the States.

Ap 19087570168975 1024

July 02, 2020

Beat of the Week

(Honorable Mention)

Moving photos: Spanish nursing home adds the human touch

crafted a tender, poignant photo package of nursing home residents in Spain hugging their relatives through protective sheets of plastic, his images almost instantly resonating among audiences worldwide. “One of the most moving epidemic-era photos I have seen,” wrote one Twitter user. Another called it “an ode to love and so heartbreaking. Terrific work.” Multiple media organizations including The Guardian and CNN included Morenatti’s work in their must-see photo collections of the week. https://bit.ly/2YK0iRg

Ap 20174525832170 Hm Morenatti1

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.

AP23241599188533

March 31, 2023

Best of the Week — First Winner

Years of source work in Texas leads to power narrative enterprise story

Jake Bleiberg spent years reporting on Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton, including an investigation in September into the dropped cases. That story caught the attention of Irma Reyes, a South Texas mother, who reached out to Bleiberg to say that something similar was probably about to happen in the cases of two men charged with sex trafficking her daughter. Bleiberg checked sources and records and then headed to court, where he and Eric Gay witnessed Reyes’s worst fears come to pass.    

The resulting story became the most engaged story of the week on APNews. It also received extensive play across Texas and national media outlets, and won praise from elected officials critical of Paxton, as well as from prosecutors, and even a lawyer for one of the men accused in the case.    

For their compelling all-formats narrative story that put a human face on the dysfunction in Texas that led prosecutors to drop human trafficking and child sexual abuse cases, writer Jake Bleiberg, photographer Eric Gay and video journalist Lekan Oyekanmi are the first winners of this week’s Best of the Week award. 

AP23083507808153

Feb. 10, 2023

Best of the Week — First Winner

AP’s Grammys livestream attracts music’s biggest names, large audience

For innovation and connecting with new audiences, the AP Entertainment video team of West Coast Entertainment Video Editor Ryan Pearson, U.S. Entertainment Video Editor Brooke Lefferts, and video producers Gary Hamilton and Leslie Ambriz are the first winners of this week’s Best of the Week award. The team used its contacts at the Recording Academy to develop and successfully execute a hosted 2 ½-hour red carpet livestream from the Grammy Awards that drew in more than a half million viewers, outpacing rival streaming shows. The AP’s new social video team quickly cut and posted videos from the live feed on a variety of social sites, which garnered nearly 1 million views. The Grammys livestream took weeks of planning and technical assistance to pull off and showed that AP can produce a highly technical live event in the entertainment space, and that entertainers will seek out AP’s spot on a bustling carpet. The video recording of the livestream also will greatly improve the AP’s archive of early hip-hop artists who were not covered by AP in their heyday.

AP 23037044028631

Feb. 03, 2023

Beat of the Week

(Honorable Mention)

Has tipping gone too far? Depends if you're a consumer or a worker

seized on a trend that garnered strong opinions from many when they are asked to tip everywhere they go, resulting in an organic and relatable story that generated tons of buzz even several days after it was published. She interviewed consumers – including one who complained about being asked to tip her mortgage company – and dug into the issue of etiquette and whether it's ok to walk away. She also talked with a worker who depends on those tips to pay his rent and the disappointment he feels when someone is willing to shell out money for an expensive coffee but not for the person who is serving it.Read more.

AP 23010805318863

Feb. 03, 2023

Best of the Week — First Winner

AP scores exclusive interview with Pope Francis, making news worldwide with a papal call to decriminalize homosexuality

Vatican Correspondent Nicole Winfield's tenacious reporting has already delivered numerous exclusives over a two-decade career covering three popes. Yet an on-camera, sit-down interview with a pontiff had eluded the AP.

That changed dramatically Jan. 24. After years of lobbying, the pope sat down for an historic interview with Winfield, whom Francis has for years called the “prima della classe,” or “first in class,” as a sign of respect for her tough but fair reporting on his pontificate. In fact, during the interview, he mentioned how Winfield’s questions about sex abuse during a 2018 airborne press conference led to his “conversion” moment when he realized that Chilean bishops had been covering up cases of abuse for decades.

For weeks, Winfield prepared the interview with Rome Senior Producer Maria Grazia Murru, who for decades has led the Vatican video operations. They coordinated every detail and prepared the right questions and approach for the interview. Murru designed the video coverage plan and spearheaded the production of social media promotion material. And together, they wrote letters in the most formal Italian to Francis’ private secretaries, until a date was finally arranged — for late January, a time that seemed ripe to make news. It was one week ahead of his planned trip to Africa and just over a month ahead of the 10th anniversary of his pontificate.

Video’s Paolo Santalucia and Photos’ Domenico Stinellis planned the lighting at the venue and sorted out technical details, and photographer Andrew Medichini’s images captured the historic event. Spanish language editor Cristina Fuentes-Cantillana transcribed and translated the full interview, conducted in the pope’s native Spanish.

AP 23024840887234

Jan. 13, 2023

Best of the Week — First Winner

AP photographers paint definitive portrait of epic, historic vote for House speaker

Some likened it to a Renaissance painting – and it certainly belongs in a museum. We’re talking, of course, about Andrew Harnik’s indelible images of a tussle in Congress as a historic House speaker vote threatened to stretch into another week.

As Republicans struggled through 14 fruitless rounds of voting against an internal faction of rebels to elect Kevin McCarthy as House Speaker, the longest such struggle in a century, nerves were fraying.

But AP’s photographers in the chamber remained cool as ever.

Normally, photographers’ access in the House chamber is heavily restricted by the speaker’s office – but with no speaker, the photo team was able to take full advantage of a House with no rules. Able to freely roam the chamber and capture up-close moments, the team shot more than 14,000 images for review and editing. Over the four days of voting, 1,500 images moved to AP’s audiences.

Alex Brandon captured an image of Rep. Matt Gaetz, one of the last anti-McCarthy holdouts, talking tensely with McCarthy after the 14th vote. With most cameras trained on McCarthy, Harnik captured an unbelievable-if-it-weren’t-on-camera near-brawl, as Rep. Mike Rogers started to charge toward Gaetz – only to be pulled back by Rep. Richard Hudson.

That image, which quickly became iconic, and the work of the others in the AP photo team, earns Best of the Week – First Winner honors for Harnik, Applewhite, Brandon, Cortez, Kaster, Rourke and Walsh.

AP 23007156127827

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.

AP 22339860811549 1

Nov. 18, 2022

Best of the Week — First Winner

From vote count to race calls to mood of the electorate, AP commits ‘single largest act of journalism’

AP delivered stellar work on the 2022 midterm elections with fast, accurate vote count and race calling, engaging explanatory journalism, unparalleled insight into the minds of voters thanks to AP VoteCast survey methodology, and ambitious, robust all-formats coverage. That teamwork chronicled an unexpectedly successful election for Democrats and the defeat of many candidates who supported baseless claims of 2020 election fraud.

The key to that performance was collaboration among formats, teams, departments and more across the entire AP, not just on Election Day but in the weeks and months leading up to Nov. 8 and beyond. That effort included a team of 60 race callers, AP’s expanded national politics team and its new democracy team, 30 live video cameras across the U.S., over 80 photographers and much more, all complementing the footprint of AP’s 50-state on-the-ground staff.

For reinforcing the cooperative’s longstanding reputation as the foundation of U.S. election coverage, AP’s vast, tireless U.S. elections team earns Best of the Week — First Winner honors.

AP 22312450736077 1920

Nov. 11, 2022

Beat of the Week

(Honorable Mention)

AP: Search for solutions drives race to save Bonneville salt flats

collaborated on the most comprehensive coverage yet by a major news organization on a shrinking natural wonder, the Bonneville Salt Flats in northwest Utah near the Nevada border.The salt flats has long lured speed-obsessed racers and filmmakers, and, more recently, social media fans looking for a spectacular photo, but its future is in peril because the salt has been thinning for decades. When a Utah state agency launched yet another study to assess what was happening at the salt flats, AP’s Salt Lake City bureau recognized an opportunity explore the state of one the American West’s most unique sites.A thoroughly reported, reader-friendly story and impressive visuals — photos, drone images, video and digital animations — combined for a striking presentation that drew in readers.Read more

Flats AP 22304711037592 ss

Nov. 04, 2022

Best of the Week — First Winner

At the edge of the world, AP reports on resilient, defiant Alaska Native islanders facing climate change

More than 600 Inupiat Natives live in the village of Shishmaref, just a few miles from the Arctic Circle, watching climate change slowly shrink their small Alaskan island home. In early October, reporter Luis Andres Henao, video journalist Jessie Wardarski and photographer Jae Hong visited the village to document how the warming world inexorably threatens their way of life.

With advance outreach, and tactful overtures after their arrival, the journalists earned the trust of residents and civic leaders who have sometimes been wary of visitors. The ultimate result: a moving tribute to the villagers’ resilience and community spirit, rendered in striking visuals and poignant, insightful text.

The package — the first major look at how Shishmaref is determined to stay put as long as possible — earned prominent online display by major news outlets in the U.S. and abroad, including Spanish and French translations.

For an all-formats project vividly evoking the tenacity of a Native village threatened by climate change, the team of Henao, Wardarski and Hong is AP’s Best of the Week — First Winner.

AP 22300726603327 2000

March 10, 2023

Best of the Week — First Winner

Rehab on hold: COVID devastates prison learning programs

When COVID-19 hit, tearing through prisons and killing thousands, it severely disrupted or shut down the very programs prisoners desperately need to prepare them for eventual release. Trauma counseling, college courses, and job training in carpentry, masonry and barbering were slow to adjust to pandemic learning. Isolation and uncertainty replaced creative outlets and mental health therapies for months on end. National Writer Aaron Morrison and video journalist Noreen Nasir paired with Los Angeles photographer Jae C. Hong to explore the problem through a behind-the-scenes look at a California prison.

Visual access inside U.S. prisons is extremely rare; Morrison got the AP access using connections with sources. The team was particularly mindful of how to humanize the men beyond just their blue uniforms and tattoos, especially as they expressed themselves with such vulnerability through the intensive therapy work and programs.

For extraordinary work that allowed AP’s audience to see the impact of the COVID epidemic in prisons, Morrison, Nasir and Hong share Best of the Week — First Winner honors.

AP23058845746787