Nov. 01, 2019

Best of the States

Experience, persistence pay off with breaking news: US to collect asylum seekers’ DNA

Immigration and Homeland Security reporter Colleen Long’s ears perked up in early October when she heard agency officials mention “CODIS” as they briefed reporters on the likelihood they would expand their practice of collecting DNA from migrants. 

CODIS, she knew from experience, was an FBI database usually associated with violent crimes, so Long was surprised to hear of its use in connection with migrants whose only crime was crossing the border illegally. Long followed up with detailed questions at the briefing but didn’t get answers, so she kept pressing officials.

Her persistence was rewarded with an advance briefing on the new rule, and additional details about how the DNA policy would be implemented. Long’s story moved hours ahead of the official announcement, becoming one of the most-read stories of the day. 

For making the early connection to the policy implications of the DNA database, then pressing the issue with officials until she had the exclusive details, Long earns this week’s Best of the States award.

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July 06, 2017

Best of the States

Long leads team coverage of fatal hospital shooting

New York City police reporter Colleen Long was taking the elevator at police headquarters on a quiet Friday afternoon before the Fourth of July weekend when she overheard a couple of patrol officers suddenly talking with alarm. “Oh my God,” one of them said. “Something’s going on at Bronx Lebanon Hospital. I think an active shooter.”

Long got off on the next stop and immediately called a source as she took the stairs down to her office in the second-floor press room, known as “the shack.” By the time she got to the desk, she had enough information to call the New York City bureau with a barebones APNewsAlert: “NEW YORK (AP) — Police are responding to a report of shots fired inside a New York City hospital.”

So began a bureau-wide reporting effort on a story that would unfold in unusual detail, even in the long litany of American gun violence. For leading a team effort that put the AP out front and kept us there, Colleen Long wins the Best of the States Award and the $300 that goes with it for the second week in a row.

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Jan. 11, 2021

Beat of the Week

(Honorable Mention)

COVID victims remembered in revealing illustrations

revisited the families and friends of 10 people among more than 60 victims of COVID-19 previously profiled by AP in 2020. Over the course of the pandemic, the global cooperative’s journalists have aimed to capture the human toll, one soul at a time. They’ve portrayed the deceased across ages, races, nationalities and social class, and documented the impact of losing someone. For this final Lives Lost story, reporters wanted to know how survivors were coping and ask what they remember most about their lost loved ones. But instead of photos or video, AP made illustrations of revealing objects or other telling details associated with the departed. Even during a very busy news week, the story and illustrations were widely used by news outlets. One family member thanked AP “from the bottom of his heart,” while another said: “I appreciate everything you’ve done for my family.” https://bit.ly/3s1M0bm

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April 08, 2022

Beat of the Week

(Honorable Mention)

AP hours ahead on long-awaited immigration asylum decision

broke the news hours ahead of the competition that the Biden administration would end the asylum limits at the U.S.-Mexico border that were put in place to prevent the spread of COVID-19.For more than a year, the administration faced growing questions — and pressure — over when it would end a Trump-era rule that has resulted in migrants being expelled at the border without a chance to seek humanitarian protection.The clean beat was the product of years of source development and seamless leveraging of reporting from the White House, the investigative team and the immigration team. The spot news break was bracketed by a series of smart stories showcasing AP’s depth of expertise on immigration matters.Read more

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March 04, 2022

Beat of the Week

(Honorable Mention)

Unmatched AP reporting on unclaimed Biden COVID tests

was the first to report that although the Biden administration’s plan to distribute free COVID tests to American households was announced with great fanfare, less than half of the available test kits had been delivered. His story, based on interviews with the White House, showed how the plan to mail out 500 million free COVID tests had met with lackluster demand as virus cases plummeted. Read more

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Aug. 20, 2021

Beat of the Week

(Honorable Mention)

COVID surge overwhelms a Louisiana hospital; AP is there

produced a timely, moving, all-formats story from a Louisiana COVID-19 ward with a lightning turnaround, getting her video, text and photos to the wire the day after she spent hours at the hospital.Plaisance, New Orleans-based video journalist, was given access to a hospital intensive care unit in Jefferson, Louisiana, expecting to get a few comments and some b-roll. Instead, she ended up spending the most of the day there, interviewing exhausted staff and recovering COVID victims. She spoke to a doctor who was emptying garbage bins and bathing patients to relieve the pressure on nurses. She spoke to a nurse who lost his own father to COVID, and a patient — also a nurse — who didn't get vaccinated and wants to make sure others don’t follow her lead.After leaving the hospital, Plaisance immediately went to work cutting video and writing the text story. By the following afternoon her work was on the wire capturing the desperation and urgency at the hospital.The package drew attention amid the current spike in COVID cases. Other news outlets noticed: After Plaisance’s piece appeared, the hospital became the subject of other reporters’ coverage.https://aplink.news/e0uhttps://aplink.video/p2n

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May 15, 2020

Best of the States

Bearing witness as COVID-19 ravages rural Georgia counties

Telling the stories of people who have suffered devastating losses is difficult at the best of times, but with this story, focused on one predominantly black rural county in southwestern Georgia where the pandemic is hitting hardest among some of America’s most exposed, the all-formats team of Claire Galofaro, Brynn Anderson and Angie Wang also had to cope with the challenges of reporting in a pandemic. 

The journalists knew they would have to take cautious risks to tell this important story, while also dealing with the emotional and ethical issues of potentially putting the people they spoke to in danger. They spent much of their time sorting out how to best protect their sources, while also getting a story worthy of the risk those sources were taking to tell it.

That story, intimately told and richly illustrated, connected with readers, some of whom said it made the pandemic finally feel real. Many said it inspired them to act, and others wrote to compliment the journalism. 

For a significant, poignant package that reveals in personal terms the already deep inequities exploited by the pandemic, Galofaro, Anderson and Wang are recognized with this week’s Best of the States award.

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Oct. 09, 2020

Beat of the Week

(Honorable Mention)

Preparation, teamwork, sharp reporting on COVID-stricken Trump

leveraged preparation, source reporting and probing questions to set the standard for coverage of President Donald Trump’s COVID-19 diagnosis.AP’s White House crew was already juggling news about a new Supreme Court nominee, revelations about Trump’s tax records, a chaotic presidential debate and controversy over the president’s stand on white supremacy, when word came Thursday night that top adviser Hope Hicks had tested positive for the coronavirus. The reporting team sprang into action to develop the story and explore the implications for Trump and those around him. By 12:30 a.m., they’d pushed the story as far as they could, and the White House gave no guidance on when test results for the president and first lady would be known.Colvin was still up, though, when Trump tweeted just before 1 a.m. that he and Melania had tested positive. The APNewsAlert moved at 1:02 a.m., and a full writethru packed with context – drawing heavily on AP’s preparedness for just this scenario – was out a minute later, giving newspaper editors around the country time to frantically remake the next day’s front pages. Over the next three days, through two dozen news alerts and more than 100 writethrus, the three reporters collaborated on sharp reporting and probing questions to tell the remarkable story of a president in both a health crisis and a credibility crisis of his own making. The team’s work broke news and dominated play throughout the weekend. https://bit.ly/3d6bJIqhttps://bit.ly/36GP04thttps://bit.ly/3ntDyiEhttps://bit.ly/2SyroGX

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Oct. 09, 2020

Beat of the Week

(Honorable Mention)

AP takes readers on one man’s near-death journey with COVID

revealed in evocative text and photos the challenges of a severe COVID case and a long rehabilitation. Their compelling work was made possible by building trust and access with one Indiana man and his family. Murphy heard about Larry Brown, an Indianapolis man who finally came home after nearly 80 days in the hospital – some 50 of those days on a ventilator – and realized even local outlets had not done justice to the story.With expertise as a health writer, Murphy learned about the case and safely navigated spending time with Brown to see what his life is like now. Photojournalist Darron Cummings spent several days with the family, vividly capturing how Brown interacts with the kids, and how his hand therapy and neurology appointments work.Brown sometimes became apprehensive over the story; the AP pair earned his trust by explaining their plan and the importance of sharing his story of recovery and the long-term effects of COVID. https://bit.ly/3d6v1gOhttps://bit.ly/2FgorrM

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Oct. 16, 2020

Beat of the Week

(Honorable Mention)

Ukraine revisited: A surge of COVID, a shortage of doctors

returned to the Ukraine to follow up on their May coverage of the country’s outbreak of COVID-19, finding that over the past five months the situation has deteriorated even more. Amid a critical shortage of doctors, the virus has recently made a fierce comeback and many of the healthcare workers they previously documented have since died of the virus.The pair focused on a small hospital in the western part of the country that had been designed for 100 patients but already held 106. They also told the powerful story of a 51-year-old therapist, featured in their earlier story describing the challenges of the outbreak. The man had died the previous week of double pneumonia, which his colleagues believe was caused by the coronavirus, even though he tested negative for it. The therapist’s widow told Chernov she was grateful for AP’s coverage earlier in the year: The stories were so widely published that the whole country knew of her husband and was mourning his death with her.Working with reporter Yuras Karmanau, currently in Kyiv, Chernov and Maloletka produced a deeply reported text story, two exclusive video stories and a comprehensive photo package that gave an intimate look at the crisis in Ukraine. The all-formats work was used by numerous key AP customers.https://bit.ly/3iUbjGv https://bit.ly/3nMI63Mhttps://bit.ly/3lLt64Ghttps://bit.ly/2SO71G6

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April 30, 2021

Beat of the Week

(Honorable Mention)

In all formats: Nurse battles back from COVID, lung transplant

produced a powerful and intimate narrative of one nurse’s precarious fight to survive COVID-19 — including the double lung transplant that saved her life.National writer Geller had wanted to find a health care worker recovering after being incapacitated by COVID. He started out calling hospitals around the country with lung transplant and COVID long-hauler programs, finally gettting a referral from Chicago’s Northwestern Memorial Hospital, which had performed the first and, by far, the most COVID lung transplants. They put him in touch with nurse Kari Wegg, who at one point before her transplant had been in a coma with little chance of recovery. Wegg got winded during their first phone conversation, a couple of weeks after she returned home, but she and her husband were open to telling their story. The AP trio would spend large parts of four days in the family’s Indiana home. The result was a riveting read with compelling visuals by Arbogast and Crawford, whose video was edited by multiformat journalist Allen Breed. The package won terrific online play, including the Chicago Tribune and Indiana news sites, with remarkably high reader engagement.https://bit.ly/3vtLoMDhttps://bit.ly/3gQXye6

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April 03, 2020

Beat of the Week

(Honorable Mention)

Exclusive reporting on federal prisons amid COVID-19 fears

have dominated reporting on the Federal Bureau of Prisons and the dysfunction inside. Their latest exclusive used rich sourcing to reveal how the system is struggling to manage the coronavirus in federal prisons. The pair heard from inmates who said there has been little guidance on what to do if they experience symptoms, and very little social distancing. Corrections officers described a lack of supplies inside prisons, and rules on protective gear that vary widely from prison to prison. Balsamo and Sisak highlighted scattershot policies that show zero uniformity despite growing fears over outbreaks of the virus. https://bit.ly/2R1aOiG

April 17, 2020

Beat of the Week

(Honorable Mention)

AP among first to examine racial disparities of COVID-19

requested data on racial breakdowns for the COVID-19 disease in states, cities and counties nationwide, ultimately analyzing data from eight states, six major U.S. cities and six of Florida’s largest counties. The result was one of the first and most deeply reported examinations of the racial disparities of U.S. cases and deaths, reviewing more than 4,450 deaths and 52,000 COVID-19 cases across the country. https://bit.ly/2Xy7TSO

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Oct. 16, 2020

Beat of the Week

(Honorable Mention)

Sources: Anger, anxiety circulating in White House COVID zone

leveraged longstanding professional relationships to reveal fear and anger rampant among household workers and Secret Service agents working in the coronavirus hot zone of the White House.The story was challenging to report because personnel knew their jobs could be in jeopardy, but the AP team reached out to a broad range of sources and contacts to piece together a compelling story about the anxiety and antagonism pulsing through the White House. While competitors took smaller bites of the apple, the AP story wove together rich details about the workers’ worries and the lack of guidance from White House officials, as well as historical context stretching back to the flu pandemic of 1918.The morning after the story ran, former first lady Michelle Obama posted a tweet seemingly tailored to AP’s piece, voicing support for those working in the White House. And days later the story still had sky-high reader engagement. https://bit.ly/314XRt6

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Dec. 03, 2021

Beat of the Week

(Honorable Mention)

AP team explores local women fighting COVID in Burkina Faso

developed a nuanced story around the lives of women struggling to raise awareness of the threat posed by COVID-19 in one of the world’s least developed nations, where the virus and its effects are hidden and often overlooked.Tests, vaccines and public messaging around COVID-19 often miss many of Burkina Faso's 20 million people, despite $200 million budgeted for virus response. In a region where women are responsible for family work and community relationships, they’ve stepped up to provide information and resources amid the public health crisis and economic hardship. With funding through a grant provided by the European Journalism Centre, the AP was able to identify the women who could best share their stories with AP’s audience.But this positive story, simple in inception, was challenging to tell at first. Stringer reporter Sam Mednick writes: “... COVID hasn't been front and center in Burkina Faso . ... it was really hard to find people who could speak to it since there are so many other problems they have to contend with. Once we found the (subjects of the) story I think the challenge was gaining the women’s trust, bringing their stories to life in a way that did them justice as well as highlighted the situation in the country.”The story achieved that, exploring the lives of two women in Kaya, a conflict area outside the capital. The package took readers deep into the lives of these women and their communities and explored how their individual efforts make them leaders in the global work against the coronavirus, as vital to their community as politicians and scientists.Video by West Africa senior producer Yesica Fisch was used by key AP clients around the world, and along with photos by freelancer Sophie Garcia, complemented the text, elevating the presentation designed by digital storytelling producer Natalie Castañeda.https://aplink.news/nnmhttps://aplink.photos/1m8https://aplink.video/wj2

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April 03, 2020

Beat of the Week

(Honorable Mention)

Exclusive reporting on police contracting COVID-19

coordinated with colleagues around the AP to track how many police officers were getting sick with the coronavirus. Documented with exclusive nationwide data and illustrated with photos from multiple datelines, the result was a richly reported and deeply researched story on how police departments are struggling to manage the growing tally of sick officers, which rose from a few dozen to nearly 700 in a week - including Detroit’s chief of police. https://bit.ly/39vzdmY

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June 18, 2021

Beat of the Week

(Honorable Mention)

As COVID spikes in Africa, AP reveals low vaccine rates

combined to illustrate the severe shortages of vaccines and low levels of vaccinations in poor African countries and elsewhere, just as a worrying new rise in infection levels has emerged and as the issue became a key topic for G-7 leaders gathering for a summit.Imray, AP’s Cape Town, South Africa, sports writer, reported that vaccine shipments to Africa have ground to a “near halt” and that the continent faces a vaccine shortfall of 700 million doses. The reporting used a broad range of sources, including an interview with the head of Africa’s CDC, and strong feeds from colleagues around the world. The story was complemented by a selection of images from AP’s photographic team across Africa.Video freelancer Onen, meanwhile, obtained rare access to a COVID-19 ICU at the Mulago Hospital in Kampala. As a condition of entry, Onen shared his footage as pool with local broadcasters who were desperate for coverage amid a sharp virus spike. Given only a few minutes on the wards, Onen did a skillful job in bringing out the tension and urgency of the situation, images that no other global media organization was able to obtain.https://aplink.news/xw1https://aplink.video/ei8

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Nov. 17, 2016

Beat of the Week

(Honorable Mention)

Members of a group honoring FBI boss have longtime Trump ties

for reporting exclusively that FBI Director James Comey accepted a lifetime achievement award from a nonprofit law enforcement organization whose board includes several people with longtime ties to Donald Trump. Democrats had criticized Comey for injecting himself into the final days of the presidential campaign with his now-concluded review of Hillary Clinton's email practices. http://bit.ly/2gelZ7Z

Aug. 28, 2020

Best of the States

From the front line to the homefront, behind the scenes with COVID nurses

Photographer Jae Hong wanted to tell the story of the nurses on the front lines of the battle against coronavirus. Not just the long, stressful hours caring for patients, but the fear they carry home of spreading the virus to their own families.

Hong found a Los Angeles-area hospital that would grant access to the COVID unit, then he and reporter Stefanie Dazio spent hours getting to know the nurses and asking to meet them at their homes for interviews and photos. 

The result was an intimate, beautifully rendered look at the nurses, their dedication and their sacrifices. The story included a nurse who is a new mom, comforting a patient’s family as the man took his last breaths.

For a poignant and revealing look at nurses’ commitment to both their patients and their families during the pandemic, Hong and Dazio share this week’s Best of the States award.

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