A cross-format team of AP journalists captured the deeper complexities of Pope Francis’s visit to one of the world’s smallest Catholic congregations, a mere 1,450 people in the landlocked country of 3.3 million sandwiched between China and Russia.
Planning began months ahead with Rome and Beijing bureau members working around summer leaves, calling in from holiday throughout August to ensure previews planning and logistics.
Along with meticulous planning, deployments from Rome, Beijing, Hong Kong and Bangkok ensured cameras were in place in each location of Francis’ arrivals and departures and working with three Live-U units on the ground for aggressive live video offerings.
Rome-based video producer Maria Grazia Murru and Bangkok producer Annika Wolters, along with London output producers, produced swift turnarounds of a variety of incoming footage, including AP self-shot lives from the field, host country broadcast material and traveling pool footage.
Beijing-based videographer Wayne Zhang and freelance video producer Saruul Enkhbold from Mongolia drove the key setup story about how small the community is, with voices from the Mongolian Catholic community and tenaciously pursuing interviews.
Team members on the ground included Rome-based reporter Nicole Winfield and Rome photographer Andrew Medichini; photographer Han Guan Ng of Beijing and Louise Delmotte of Hong Kong; Murru and videographers Zhang of Beijing, Tian Ji Macleod of Bangkok and video producer Enkhbold from Mongolia.
Winfield’s story on the history of the Catholic community and geopolitics of Mongolia gave much needed insight on a complicated subject matter, and a marvelous historical account on the Catholic community.
The setup story had 13th century Pope Innocent IV in the lead, probably a first for the AP. It was able to quote from a letter that Mongolia’s ruler Guyuk Khan sent Innocent in 1246, essentially telling him to buzz off — a reflection of Winfield’s months-long painstaking preparation for the trip that included interviewing Mongolia scholars around the world.
Domenico Stinellis, photo chief in Rome, worked on Mongolian time for the duration of the four-day trip, up at 3 a.m. daily, taking in the lion’s share of images off camera from the photographers on the ground.
For an extraordinary view of the pope’s trip to a country that has few Catholics and that usually garners scant attention, the papal coverage team earns Best of the Week — Second Winner.