July 16, 2021

Best of the Week — First Winner

Only on AP: Heartrending images capture children across the globe who lost parents to COVID

Rarely does AP’s Best of the Week award go to an editor. But this week — a particularly strong one for AP with multiple exclusives — the honor is truly deserved by Top Stories Hub photo editor Alyssa Goodman. Goodman was the driving force behind “Kids Left Behind,” an extraordinarily moving photo package that takes an intimate look at children who have lost parents to the pandemic.

Goodman coordinated with photographers around the globe to find the young subjects, get permission to photograph and interview them, then make their portraits in a cohesive style.

The result was one of the most compelling packages AP has done in recent years, the photos complemented by poignant text moving many readers to tears, with stories ranging from a 10-year old in India who lost both parents in a matter of weeks, to video of a California 13-year-old performing the song she composed for her father’s funeral, on the guitar he gave her days before he died.

For generating an inspired and challenging project, handling it with sensitivity and tenaciously seeing it through in collaboration with global colleagues, Alyssa Goodman wins AP’s Best of the Week award.

AP 21189778554510 2000

Oct. 19, 2018

Best of the Week — First Winner

The Battle for Alexa: How deported parents could lose their kids to US adoptions

When family separations began under President Donald Trump’s “zero tolerance” immigration policy, widespread rumors circulated that some separated children could end up being adopted by families in the United States – without their deported parents even being notified. California-based investigative reporters Garance Burke and Martha Mendoza set out to learn if this was true and eventually uncovered the case of 5-year-old Alexa Flores, exposing holes in the U.S. legal system that could allow deported mothers and fathers to lose their children.

Alexa’s story illustrates the fate that could await some of the hundreds of children who remain in federal custody after being separated from their parents at the border.

Burke and Mendoza sifted through hundreds of court records and dozens of interviews with immigrants, attorneys, and advocates in the U.S. and Central America. Teaming up with multiformat colleagues David Barraza and Rebecca Blackwell in El Salvador, Mike Householder and Paul Sancya in Michigan, and Mexico City-based Dario Lopez, they revealed how migrant children can become cloaked in the maze of state and federal courts, which are rarely in contact with each other.

For producing a complex, powerful story that spanned two countries in heartbreakingly human terms, Burke, Mendoza, Lopez, Blackwell, Sancya, Householder and Barraza win this week’s Best of the Week.

Ap 18278608463519 1024

June 10, 2022

Best of the Week — First Winner

Intimate AP package explores the burdens borne by young children providing essential care for parents

Health writer Tom Murphy was talking with an advocacy group for patients with Lou Gehrig’s disease about obstacles in caregiving, when he heard something arresting: Often, it’s children who provide the care.

With that spark, Murphy dug into the research and found that millions of school-aged children across the country are doing heavy-duty caregiving tasks. He and video journalist Shelby Lum then worked for weeks to ensure they could fully show what a family goes through every day. They discovered a family that was not only cooperative but compelling: The Kotiya/Pandya family welcomed Murphy, Lum and photographer Mat Otero into their Texas home where the team shadowed the family’s two young caregivers.

With that access, the trio produced a remarkably rich, engaging all-formats package that hooked readers and viewers.

For shining a delicate but bright light on the heart-wrenching reality of grade schoolers having to be as adept with a breathing machine as with Legos, the team of Murphy, Lum and Otero is AP’s Best of the Week — First Winner.

AP 22123703372356 2000

July 24, 2020

Beat of the Week

(Honorable Mention)

Tough calls for US families as school year looms

turned a spotlight on the stress parents are feeling as they consider the reopening of schools and weigh competing concerns – the health of their children, the burden of extended quarantine, the need to have children cared for as parents get back to work. Exploring the impact of these factors on working parents, Loller sorted through the nuanced implications for parents from New York to Texas as they react to the pivotal decisions being made by elected officials about when kids should return to school. https://bit.ly/2ZSnqO3

Ap 20192618497841 Hm Schools

July 19, 2019

Best of the Week — First Winner

One face of immigration policy: 9-year-old in Texas still separated from Guatemalan family

Houston-based immigration reporter Nomaan Merchant uncovered a heartbreaking tale in his coverage of the lingering toll of President Donald Trump’s family separation policy: a 9-year-old boy, Byron Xol, who is still separated from his parents. The boy eventually landed in the home of a Texas family who took custody of the child, while his parents were deported to Guatemala.

Merchant had been looking for an opportunity to write a detailed narrative that would illustrate the stress that separations have on families. When he learned on short notice of Byron’s upcoming birthday, he decided it was the perfect time to tell the tale.

Merchant and his Houston colleagues – video journalist John Mone and photographer David Phillip – went to the boy’s current foster home outside Austin. Meanwhile, photographer Santiago Billy, reporter Sonny Figueroa and video stringer Sergio Alfaro went to the Guatemalan village of the Xol family. Together they captured the emotion of the day and the sharp contrast between the two worlds, as the dad phoned Byron on his birthday.

The story they produced was gripping, used by more than 400 AP members in the U.S. It was just one of a series of strong pieces that have put names, faces and personal narratives to the immigration story, keeping AP’s coverage ahead.

For recognizing the moment and mobilizing quickly across formats and borders, Alfaro, Billy, Figueroa, Merchant, Mone and Phillip share AP’s Best of the Week.

Ap 19191703069471 1024

Jan. 31, 2020

Beat of the Week

(Honorable Mention)

Reporter stays with the story; father and son reunited

followed up on his previous reporting about migrant David Xol, who was deported back to Guatemala after being separated from his son by border agents in May 2018. Merchant’s relationship-building paid off with a heads up when Xol was one of nine parents who won the exceedingly rare chance to return to the U.S., reuniting him with his son, now 9. AP produced an all-formats package on the emotional airport reunion in Los Angeles.https://bit.ly/2RVbtC0https://bit.ly/2t8xJ2Rhttps://bit.ly/2S4AbQi

Ap 20023314185408 Hm Xol

Aug. 23, 2019

Beat of the Week

(Honorable Mention)

AP reveals litigation over alleged abuse suffered by children separated at border

for their investigation breaking the news of dozens of unredacted legal claims seeking more than $200 million in damages for trauma and abuse alleged by parents and their children who had been separated at the border; these included children who were sexually molested by other children in foster homes.The administrative claims shared with The Associated Press were heartbreaking: Young children pulled from their parents’ arms by government agents were sent to foster homes and residential shelters where they suffered sexual and other physical and emotional abuse. The reporters revealed the high cost of the claims: more than $200 million for 38 claims is just “the tip of the iceberg” said lawyers. And this was the first report that some separated children in foster homes – considered safer and healthier – had been sexually molested. The story ran with exclusive photographs and video of a father whose young son, whose heart was failing, was put in a foster home where he was molested by other children.https://bit.ly/2YQwnbLhttps://bit.ly/2L0R1Mv

Jan. 20, 2023

Beat of the Week

(Honorable Mention)

Heart-wrenching loss of young boy in California illustrates peril of California flooding

in Los Angeles humanized, in the most gripping fashion, the floods that hit California. His interviews with the parents of a 5-year-old boy who was swept away by floodwaters give a heart-wrenching look at the impacts of the flooding. With sensitive reporting, exclusive details and vivid storytelling, Melley offered a compelling and comprehensive account of the tragedy.Read more.

AP 23012041081795

Aug. 21, 2020

Beat of the Week

(Honorable Mention)

Families in Appalachia describe challenges of online learning

made the most of her first major enterprise story in Kentucky, reporting deep in the mountains of Appalachia on the dilemma facing parents with spotty internet service as they weigh the challenge of a new school year. Together with freelance photographer Bryan Woolston, Blackburn sharpened the focus on an often overlooked segment of the population to demonstrate the unique challenges they face, doing so with sensitivity and respect. https://bit.ly/3g8OnBR

Ap 20212626874969 Hm Ky 111

Dec. 23, 2022

Beat of the Week

(Honorable Mention)

Focused on learning loss, AP’s reporting asks: Are adults doing enough to help vulnerable kids?

doggedly focused on kids’ academic recovery, delivered a powerful tale about adults trying – and failing – to change school in the face of massive pandemic learning loss.

Previous reporting on pandemic-related education issues uncovered this tale of two districts: Facing Richmond kids’ massive learning losses, the superintendent had already tried twice to extend the school year – something experts recommended for struggling kids to get more time with teachers. Teachers, wealthy parents and school board members had defeated the proposal, leaving supporters bereft. But in Hopewell, backing from teachers and low-income parents had led to the unthinkable – the remaking of the academic calendar, introducing year-round school.Read more.

AP 22321670092564

Oct. 21, 2022

Beat of the Week

(Honorable Mention)

AP reporter’s intimate story of yearslong journey to coming out

marked National Coming Out Day by telling the nuanced and sometimes excruciating story of his long journey to sharing his secret — and how he tried to come out to his deceased parents in an unusual way, with mixed results.New York-based Calvan surfaced his own memories, reporting on them and framing a story that was equal parts personal and professional, deftly balancing — as not all first-person stories do — the demands of journalism with the self-disclosure of memoir.His intimate story resonated with a digital audience that is attuned to experiential stories. It also served as an example of inclusive storytelling, centering a voice that might not otherwise be heard this way in the AP report.Read more

Calvan AP 22282833618615 hm1

Oct. 21, 2022

Best of the Week — First Winner

AP Investigation: Moscow taking Ukrainian kids to raise them as Russians

Russia has been open about its desire to turn Ukrainian orphans into Russian citizens with Russian families — a flashpoint of the war. But whether or not they have parents, raising the children of war in another country or culture can be a marker of genocide, an attempt to erase culture and identity.

This investigative piece, reported from Ukraine, Russia and France, made AP the first news organization to show the disturbing process from beginning to end — and prove that many of the children are not orphans at all. The all-formats story led with the account of a Ukrainian mother who, against the odds, successfully retrieved six children who had been trapped in Mariupol and seized by pro-Russia forces.

The story won wide play online, was a hit on Twitter and was singled out during a State Department briefing.

For documenting a severe breach of human rights with a heart-wrenching story that resonated across audiences, Sarah El Deeb, Tanya Titova, Anastasiia Shvets, Elizaveta Tilna and Kirill Zarubin earn AP’s Best of the Week — First Winner honors.

AP 22285857419879 2000