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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April 05, 2024

Best of the Week — First Winner

AP team jumps into action to lead the pack on stunning Baltimore bridge collapse

When the Francis Scott Key Bridge collapsed in the middle of the night, AP staff from Bangkok to Baltimore contributed to all-formats reporting over a vast spectrum of spot and investigative angles.

It was just a bit after 3 a.m. when Baltimore reporter Lea Skene learned the Francis Scott Key Bridge had just crumpled into the river below.

Skene sprang into action and got a key fire department official on the phone. That allowed the AP to quickly give accurate details and avoid inflating the numbers of people missing, like other outlets did. Soon a team of AP reporters, photographers and video journalists joined to deliver coverage that earned huge play in newspapers around the world.

Annapolis reporter Brian Witte joined Skene on the ground and scored early-morning interviews with the governor and the chair of the National Transportation Safety Board. Video journalists Nathan Ellgren and Rick Gentilo provided coverage that was the most downloaded among customers globally for the week, particularly their early shots. Photographers Mark Schiefelbein and Matt Rourke delivered images of the crumpled bridge and of locals discussing how the collapse challenged Baltimore’s identity as a port city.

For delivering an encompassing and engrossing look at how the collapse of a bridge scarred a city’s psyche and uncovered potential trade-offs when it comes to safety, Skene, Witte, Schiefelbein, Rourke, Ellgren, Gentilo and the Baltimore Bridge Collapse Team are this week’s Best of the Week — First Winner.

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May 17, 2024

Best of the Week — First Winner

AP discovers torture, the rape of girls and the deliberate capsizing of a boat of Rohingya refugees

When the boat of about 140 Rohingya refugees fleeing violence in Bangladesh and Myanmar capsized off Indonesia, killing 67 people, the media focused on the rescued and the dead. No one understood why or how the boat capsized. Kristen Gelineau, AP’s Sydney-based global investigations reporter, suspected something had gone very wrong; there were no reports of storms or engine problems. She received tips from two sources that there might have been sexual assaults on board the boat and the captain may have deliberately sunk it. She wanted answers from the survivors themselves.

With Gelineau providing direction from Sydney, Jakarta-based reporter Edna Tarigan flew to Indonesia’s Aceh province to team up with freelance photographer Reza Saifullah, who had photographed the rescue.

The Rohingya are challenging to interview due to their extreme levels of trauma, and the lone survivor of the captain’s sexual assaults was no exception. The 12-year-old girl shared her vital, exclusive account of the horrors on that boat. Over a shaky Zoom connection, a Rohingya translator dialed into the interviews.

The team guaranteed those who wanted anonymity that AP would protect their privacy, and those who were reluctant to be photographed by a man eventually came to trust Saifullah and that his photographs would respect that agreement if that was their wish.

For bringing AP readers the first and only account of the trauma suffered by this group of Rohingya refugees, the reporting by Gelineau, Tarigan and Saifullah is this week’s Best of the Week — First Winner.

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