April 19, 2024

Best of the Week — First Winner

AP hosts digital-first experience of total solar eclipse with livestream, blog and scenes from Mexico to Maine

In a large-scale, innovative and comprehensive work of journalism that required months of planning and precise execution, a core team from Health and Science conceived a digital-first experience of the total solar eclipse with a livestream, live blog and scenes along the path of totality from Mexico to Maine. Executing the plan successfully required coordination that extended across formats, countries and departments.

Coverage of the eclipse began in February with weekly all-formats storytelling by the Health and Science team, with contributions from Global Beats and U.S. News teams. Work also began to develop a livestream eclipse show, featuring Health and Science audience and social lead Kyle Viterbo; video journalists Mary Conlon and Laura Bargfeld; and aerospace writer Marcia Dunn, along with engineer Hugo Blanco.

In the control room, Global Beats video news editor Kathy Young, Entertainment video editor Brooke Lefferts and U.S. assignment manager Robert Bumsted worked with video operations manager Derek Danilko and broadcast engineer Rob Weisenfeld to produce the six-hour livestream. They worked with video journalists who went live along the path, including Alexis Triboulard, Lekan Oyekanmi, Nick Ingram, Teresa Crawford, Patrick Orsagos and David Martin, while video curation editor Francisco Guzman kept real-time track of audience engagement.

A live blog launched at 5:30 a.m. EDT with posts prepared by Health and Science editor Stephanie Nano, and deputy editor Jon Poet, live blog editor Emily Olson and digital editor Sophia Eppolito kept it running with fresh dispatches and visuals over 12 hours from journalists in Mexico, the U.S. and Canada.

Unique and quickly filed images of the event were captured photojournalists Fernando Llano, Eric Gay, Mat Otero, Tony Gutierrez, Jeff Roberson, Michael Conroy, Carolyn Kaster, Jon Cherry, Matt Rourke and Bob Bukaty, with coordination by chief photographer Julio Cortez.

For conceiving a digital-first approach that caught the attention of our customers and our digital audience, the Health and Science team of Viterbo, Conlon, Bargfeld, Dunn and Nano are this week’s Best of the Week — First Winner.

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April 12, 2024

Best of the Week — First Winner

AP team springs into action after Ecuador raids Mexican embassy to arrest former VP

When the Ecuadorian government, under the orders of President Daniel Noboa, took the unprecedented action of storming the Mexican Embassy in Quito late on Friday, April 5, AP’s visual team based in the Andean city responded swiftly. They were on the ground during crucial moments of the significant event, which garnered global attention over the weekend and subsequent days.

Freelance video journalist Cesar Olmos and photojournalist Dolores Ochoa captured images and sound of the incensed embassy staff and rapidly filed images of military forces scaling the walls of the building as they entered and seized Jorge Glas, Ecuador’s former vice president, who had previously faced multiple corruption charges and sought refuge in the Mexican embassy several months prior to the raid.

In addition to securing the initial visuals, the AP team was quick to deliver across other formats to publish the details of this unprecedented event.

For comprehensive and quick work to report on the initial events and immediate fallout after an unprecedented international incident, Olmos, Ochoa, Regina Garcia Cano, Megan Janetsky, Gonzalo Solano, Gabriela Molina, David Biller and Sara Espana are Best of the Week — First Winner.

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March 29, 2024

Best of the Week — First Winner

AP exposes evidence that Burkina Faso security forces massacred civilians

West Africa Correspondent Sam Mednick obtained exclusive accounts from massacre survivors in the remote region of Zaongo in Burkina Faso.

Killings of civilians by security forces happen regularly in Burkina Faso yet are hardly reported amid a brutal war with jihadist rebels. Few survivors are brave enough to speak out and most flee, staying silent under a repressive regime. Government investigations are also rare, and no one is held accountable.

Mednick, who is based in Senegal, was looking into reports of one of many such violent incidents that she had seen video evidence of circulating in WhatsApp groups, when a source in Dakar said he had relatives who survived the massacre and could speak to her.

Through the trusted contact in Senegal, she was able to talk to a family that lived in the area and connect with survivors.

AP was the only media able to get the story and photos of this attack, one of several killings under investigation by the U.N. and government. To date, no one has been held accountable.

Washington-based newsperson Michael Biesecker was able to add reporting on Burkina’s military links to the U.S. and worked closely with Mednick from the start to develop the reporting.

For exposing a crime that was all but impossible to report on, Mednick and Biesecker’s story is Best of the Week — First Winner.

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March 22, 2024

Best of the Week — First Winner

AP’s chilling exclusive of Russian ‘passportization’ inside occupied Ukrainian territories breaks just as Putin’s preordained election begins

The Kyiv team, in partnership with Lori Hinnant of global investigations, gained exclusive access to a world clouded with hostile Russian propaganda in the occupied territories to report on the increasing Russian pressure on Ukrainians to accept their passports.

The team pooled their contacts to track down willing Ukrainians who had accepted the passports and managed to evacuate from occupied Berdyansk and Kherson.

A few brave Ukranians, fearing condemnation by their own people, overcame their fears after the team earned their trust through steadfast reporting over the past year.

Lawyers, experts, and Ukrainian officials revealed previously unreported information on the “passportization” policy and that Ukrainians were being forced to fight in the Russian army.

Stepanenko and Arhinova found families who had resisted, including a woman whose sons risked being drafted to fight against Ukrainian forces.

The story ran just as voting in the Russian election was getting underway, driving interest by major news outlets over the weekend.

For their commitment and resourcefulness against the odds, Hanna Arhirova, Susie Blann, Lori Hinnant, Samya Kullab, Evgeniy Maloletka, Illia Novikov and Vasilisa Stepanenko are Best of the Week — First Winner.

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March 08, 2024

Best of the Week — First Winner

AP beats everyone on Mitch McConnell’s decision to step down

Even before Mitch McConnell began speaking in the well of the Senate on Feb. 28, everyone knew what the majority leader’s historic announcement would be. That was because AP had already delivered the news, beating all the competition.

Deputy Bureau Chief Mike Tackett had obtained McConnell’s remarks in advance, saying that he planned to step down in November to close his run as the longest-serving Senate leader. Tackett also worked out an agreement that AP could publish before McConnell made his announcement on the Senate floor.

Tackett, who is writing a biography on McConnell, worked closely with digital politics editor Katie Vogel and Washington text editor Tom Strong to make sure copy was edited and ready go. When the time came, Strong filed the urgent copy perfectly with the APNewsAlert and full story moving within the same minute.

The news sent a buzz through the Senate floor, and several journalists there asked Tackett how he did it.

Tackett’s source work also enabled Congress reporter Mary Clare Jalonick and chief congressional correspondent Lisa Mascaro to dive straight into the ‘what happens next’ portion of reporting instead of having to focus on the breaking news.

For delivering a package that kept AP ahead of amazed competitors through the day, Tackett, Vogel, Strong, Mascaro and Jalonick are this week’s Best of the Week — First Winner.

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March 01, 2024

Best of the Week — First Winner

A leaked trove of documents opens a rare window into Chinese hacking practices

China has long used hacking as a political and law-enforcement tool to put eyes on dissidents, governments and other people it wants to watch. Because of Associated Press reporting efforts, the picture of how that is done — and what it might mean — is a bit clearer now. On Feb. 19, multiple sources alerted China investigative correspondent Dake Kang to a newly discovered leak of documents from a Chinese police contractor that revealed the company was hacking the networks of over a dozen foreign governments for the Chinese Ministry of Public Security. The documents revealed how these hackers-for-hire operations worked, which systems they targeted, what tools they used and how they assisted police in the surveillance and harassment of dissidents and oppressed ethnicities even outside China’s borders. The documents had been published online by an unknown source, and no other major media outlet had picked up on it yet. But how to verify? Kang, who at the time happened to be in the western Chinese city of Chengdu, was en route to the airport to return to Beijing when he was browsing the contractor’s website. One of their addresses was right there, just a 40-minute drive from the airport. Kang canceled his flight, hopped into a cab and headed to the company’s offices. U.S.-based technology reporter Frank Bajak simultaneously jumped on the story, contacting cybersecurity analysts, many of whom said they thought it was authentic. The following morning, Kang returned to the company where two employees confirmed the leak. With effective communication and swift editing, the story made it to the wire during U.S. daytime.  

The cross-continental teamwork and speed paid off. The AP was first among major competitors to put the story out, with others following hours later — some of them using AP’s exclusive photos.  

For a quick and concerted scramble that leveraged differing forms of AP expertise, touched multiple continents and delivered precision on deadline, Kang and Bajak are this week’s Best of the Week — First Winner.

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