July 09, 2021
Best of the Week — First Winner
Reporter’s instincts, deep preparation break stunning news of Cosby case reversal and prison release
Comedian Bill Cosby had been in a Pennsylvania prison for more than two years last December when the state’s high court took on his appeal of his sexual assault conviction.
As seven months went by without a decision, Philadelphia-based legal affairs reporter Maryclaire Dale — who had been instrumental in breaking the original Cosby story — thought there might be something newsy in the works. Her instincts led to deep preparation that put AP ahead on one of the biggest news stories of the summer, one that almost no one but Dale had anticipated.
When the court tweeted out its opinion Wednesday, AP’s news alert moved within minutes, followed less than one minute later with a short breaking news story that Cosby's conviction was overturned, and that he would be released from prison. Both alerts beat all the competition; a full story moved less than two minutes later. Dale and colleagues followed up with full coverage throughout the day, with Cosby later appearing before cameras at his home, as the original news story drew heavy engagement online and maintained the top spot in Google’s news carousel.
For sharp anticipation and flawless execution that put AP ahead on a story that dominated the news cycle, Dale earns AP’s Best of the Week award.