In the weeks after Jocelyn Gecker’s bombshell investigation detailing multiple sexual harassment allegations against Placido Domingo, competitors were out in full force, trying to produce their own stories about women who had encounters with the opera superstar.
But only the AP was able to advance the story, offering the accounts of an additional 11 women who said the legend had behaved inappropriately with them, including Angela Turner Wilson, who said Domingo insisted on kissing her and later forcefully grabbed her bare breast under her robe in a makeup room – and put her name to the accusation. In addition, a number of backstage staff told the Jocelyns – AP’s Gecker and Noveck – how they strove to keep young women from ever being alone with Domingo. One of them, Melinda McLain, allowed her name to be used in the story and was featured in our video and photos.
No one could match the Jocelyns’ reporting, which formed the basis of stories by many media outlets, including one competitor that could offer nothing more than an extensive citation of AP’s piece. And the story produced immediate results: The Dallas Opera announced it would cancel its March gala due to the “ongoing allegations,” and the American Guild of Musical Artists, which represents singers and opera workers, announced it would launch its own investigation into Domingo’s behavior, specifically citing AP’s reporting. Administrators at the LA Opera, where Domingo has served as general director since 2003, sent employees a letter saying they were “very troubled by the ongoing allegations raised by the Associated Press.”
The story hit it big. It saw strong play internationally, particularly in Domingo’s native Spain, dominating the web versions of El Pais and El Mundo, among others. And it was one of the most-read stories on AP’s platform, logging unusually strong engagement over the course of 24 hours and racking up more than 150,000 page views, even as Hurricane Dorian was leaving a trail of destruction in its mighty wake.
For remarkable source building and reporting that continued to give AP ownership of this highly competitive story, Gecker and Noveck earn this week’s Best of the States award.