Best of the AP

Best of the Week - First Winner May 10, 2024

AP exclusively breaks news that DEA moving to reclassify marijuana as a less dangerous drug


White House Correspondent Zeke Miller, Latin America Correspondent Joshua Goodman, Investigative Reporter Jim Mustian and Washington Reporter Lindsay Whitehurst combined forces to exclusively break the news that the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration is moving to reclassify marijuana as a less dangerous drug, a historic shift that could clear the way toward easing federal criminal penalties on pot at a time when President Joe Biden is seeking the support of younger voters.

The DEA’s biggest policy recommendation in its 50-year history had been highly anticipated and hotly contested by every major news organization. In the end, AP’s bombshell story last Tuesday left competitors scrambling to match AP’s reporting and give AP full credit for being first.

But AP wasn’t done. In the ensuing hours there was another APNewsAlert on Attorney General Merrick Garland endorsing the DEA proposal, a politics sidebar by Jonathan J. Cooper on how this is Biden’s latest attempt to reach out to younger voters and a “What It Means” glance by Jennifer Peltz and Whitehurst that unpacked the nuances of the order. That was also neatly presented in an AP video narrated by Whitehurst.

For strong, fast, exclusive reporting that put the AP out front to drive the conversation on a historic policy shift on pot, Miller, Goodman, Mustian and Whitehurst are Best of the Week — First Winner.

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Best of the Week - Second Winner May 10, 2024

AP reporter tells real story behind woman NYC’s mayor accused of radicalizing Columbia students


After New York City’s mayor repeatedly claimed that student protesters at Columbia University had been radicalized by a woman whose husband was “convicted for terrorism,” New York City bureau reporter Jake Offenhartz did an exclusive interview with the alleged agitator, revealing that she was a retired schoolteacher who wasn’t actually on campus the week demonstrators seized an administration building.

The day after cops stormed into Columbia University to clear pro-Palestinian protesters from an occupied school building, New York City Mayor Eric Adams repeatedly justified the police intervention by saying he had learned that a woman whose husband was “convicted for terrorism” was among the demonstrators.

While Adams’ description conjured up images of, perhaps, the wife of a Hamas gunman, Offenhartz quickly debunked the mayor’s narrative. Nahla Al-Arian was a 63-year-old retired schoolteacher. She had not been on campus the week that Columbia's Hamilton Hall was seized. And her husband’s story was more complicated than Adams had let on.

Al-Arian gave Offenhartz an exclusive interview in which she disputed the mayor’s characterization of both her and her husband. She had, in fact, visited Columbia's protest encampment, but only briefly during a family trip to the city. Offenhartz's story — still unmatched by other news organizations — also included vital context about her husband, Sami Al-Arian.

Offenhartz reported and wrote his story on deadline — it ran in the same cycle as Adams first began making his allegations — ensuring that the AP’s reporting was factual and put the accusations on the proper context right from the start.

For quickly debunking a narrative that was being widely circulated, Offenhartz is Best of the Week — Second Winner.

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