Jan. 19, 2018

Best of the States

Strong sourcing, teamwork put AP ahead on offshore drilling news

For Tallahassee reporter Gary Fineout, the first day of the legislative session began with the usual pomp and circumstance, and Gov. Rick Scott’s annual state of the state speech. From there it took a quick turn.

A source in Scott’s office called Fineout at around 4 p.m. to say that Secretary of Interior Ryan Zinke would be flying in from Atlanta to meet with the governor – and both would be willing to talk to the media afterward. Fineout immediately emailed Matthew Daly in Washington, who covers Interior, and who had tapped into a key political problem in the Trump administration' recently announced offshore drilling plan: Republican governors were not on board.

At around 6 p.m. Zinke and Scott strode through Tallahassee’s small airport and dropped the news that Florida would be removed from the administration’s oil drilling plan. Before the two officials stopped talking, Fineout emailed Daly in D.C. to let him know the news that would soon create a torrent of criticism from other states that oppose the oil drilling plan. By the time Fineout got back to his car in the parking lot, Daly was moving the news alert.

Daly and Fineout’s model of teamwork put AP so far ahead some in the competition didn’t bother to catch up. For their initiative and coordinated effort to give AP an important beat, Fineout and Daly share this week’s Best of the States prize.

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Nov. 13, 2020

Best of the States

Tenacious source work leads to national newsbreak on census fraud

The on-the-record accounts from two census workers were stunning: Under pressure from supervisors amid the Trump administration’s push to bring the census to an end, they were encouraged to falsify records in the 2020 headcount.

Whom did they reveal this to? Not surprisingly, they spoke to Mike Schneider, AP’s authority on the census, who leveraged months of source development and reporting to break the story. Posted just an hour before the presidential race was called for former Vice President Joe Biden, the story still broke through with strong play and reader engagement.

For keeping the AP ahead in a critical coverage area with a terrific scoop, Schneider wins this week’s Best of the States award.

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May 03, 2024

Best of the Week — First Winner

Rare multiformat interview with Hamas leader breaks news

In an exclusive interview with AP, a high-ranking Hamas political official for the first time suggested that the militant group would put down its weapons with the establishment of an independent Palestinian state, acknowledging that a two-state solution could be possible even if temporarily.

The interview, which came at a crucial time in Gaza ceasefire negotiations, was the result of persistence by AP staff and collaboration between the Beirut and Istanbul teams.

Having dealt with Hamas officials in Beirut regularly on stories before and after Oct. 7, Lebanon/Syria/Iraq news director Abby Sewell had requested an interview with one of Hamas’ senior officials, Moussa Abu Marzouk, and was told it would be granted and would take place in Istanbul.

While she was awaiting confirmation of the date, Hamas’ top political leader, Ismail Haniyeh, showed up in Turkey and met with the country’s president, Recep Tayyip Erdogan.

At that point, Istanbul-based photographer Khalil Hamra, originally from Gaza, suggested using his contacts to aim for the highest-ranking possible interview.

For persistence and collaboration to win a scoop on one of the world’s most pressing stories, Sewell, Hamra and Guzel are Best of the Week — First Winner.

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Aug. 20, 2021

Beat of the Week

(Honorable Mention)

Source work breaks news of Pentagon’s vaccine mandate

used strong source work to break the news that members of the U.S. military will be required to get the COVID-19 vaccine.Baldor, a veteran Pentagon reporter, spoke to contacts every day on the issue, and while some news outlets reported incorrectly that the Pentagon announcement would come Aug. 6, Baldor’s sources told her the decision was being pushed to the following week because of legal wrangling at the White House.She prepped a story on Friday, then got word mid-morning on Monday that an announcement was expected later in the day. She kept making calls until a longtime source gave her the memo on vaccine policy.

Immediately after AP’s alert, Baldor had a full story on the wire with quotes from the memo explaining the rationale behind the mandate. AP was the only news organization to get the memo and was first with the story and details, sending competitors scrambling to catch up; many news organizations cited AP as the news broke. The story had the most pageviews of the day on the AP News app and site. https://aplink.news/s2z

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March 15, 2019

Best of the Week — First Winner

AP team demonstrates what a community loses when a small-town newspaper dies

What’s lost when a newspaper dies? And how do you tell the story of this slow disaster happening in front of everyone’s eyes and still make the world sit up and take notice?

For reporters Dave Bauder and David Lieb, the answer was by focusing on the residents of one small town as they explained the death of local journalism in an authentic, vivid and compelling way.

It’s a story that’s happened repeatedly across the country, with 1,400 cities or towns losing newspapers in the last 15 years. The aftermath of the loss of the Daily Guide in Waynesville, Missouri, was richly told by a multiformat team of text, video and photo journalists as the centerpiece story for “Fading Light,” the AP’s Sunshine Week package on the decline of local news.

New York-based media reporter Bauder and Lieb, a member of the state government team based in Missouri’s capitol, spent several days in Waynesville and its twin city, St. Robert, reporting the story. Denver video journalist Peter Banda and Kansas City photographer Orlin Wagner worked closely with them to shoot visuals, while Alina Hartounian, the multiformat coordinator for the U.S. beat teams, created social videos that drove readers to the story. Bauder also secured an interview with executives at the company that shuttered the Daily Guide.

The package received incredible attention and sparked discussion online. Bauder and Lieb’s text story has been viewed nearly 120,000 times with high engagement, it has landed on nearly 30 front pages, and has been cited in several influential media reports.

For masterful work shining a light on a problem that has left whole communities less informed, Bauder, Lieb, Banda, Wagner and Hartounian win AP’s Best of the Week award.

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Feb. 25, 2022

Beat of the Week

(Honorable Mention)

AP figure skating crew leads breaking news from Olympics

dominated coverage of figure skating from Beijing, reporting the top breaking news stories of the 2022 Olympics. With help from colleagues working in all formats, along with the Moscow staff and fellow staffers promoting AP’s content on social media, they covered all the angles with some of the biggest stories of the Winter Olympics, including AP’s most-read story of the month.Even before the pivotal night of the women’s competition, Skretta and the team delivered standout work, setting up the Games and the expected dominance of both the Russian women and American favorite Nathan Chen. And when a positive drug test was revealed for Russian favorite Kamila Valieva, the team kept AP well ahead of the competition.Among the highlights were Ellingworth’s definitive piece on Valieva's controversial coach, a follow-up the morning after the eventful women’s final, and fresh takes on the sport from Ho and Morrison, highlighting issues of body image, racism and the impact of the sport on such young skaters. Read more

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June 04, 2021

Beat of the Week

(Honorable Mention)

AP lands Newsmaker interview with fugitive auto executive Ghosn

had been maneuvering for an interview with Carlos Ghosn ever since the automotive executive escaped Japan inside a box 17 months ago. The senior producer, based in Paris, plied sources from Ghosn’s days at the top of Renault, Nissan and Mitsubishi, and insisted that AP wanted a no-holds-barred, in-person session with the man once feted as a superstar and whose career came crashing down when he was arrested in Japan on accusations of financial misconduct. Schaeffer’s tenacity and insistence on high standards won AP an exceptional three-language interview that was Ghosn’s most comprehensive to date, making headlines on three continents on the eve of his latest legal drama. This was also a pioneering effort in AP’s Newsmaker Interview initiative and a stellar example of teamwork across AP’s formats and departments, including all the others in the room for the interview: regional news director Zeina Karam, photographer Hussein Malla, video journalist Alex Turnbull, senior producer Fay Abuelgasim and camera operator Fadi Tawil.https://bit.ly/34Md7g7https://bit.ly/2SY1MGY

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June 15, 2018

Beat of the Week

(Honorable Mention)

Harris breaks soccer news with US and UK scoops

for a series of scoops in the days before the start of the 2018 World Cup competition – including word that U.S. star Hope Solo was discouraging the choice of the United States as a host for the 2026 World Cup. Solo has been critical of U.S. soccer governance. Harris also snagged an exclusive interview with Liverpool’s American owner John Henry, and he told how MasterCard was forced, after a public backlash, to scrap a charity initiative to donate 10,000 meals to hungry children for every goal scored by Latin American idols Lionel Messi and Neymar.https://bit.ly/2JYdQ4Shttps://bit.ly/2t9akul

Dec. 17, 2021

Beat of the Week

(Honorable Mention)

Interview with CDC’s Walensky puts AP ahead on virus news

collaborated on a significant edition of “The AP Interview” newsmaker series. AP’s conversation with Dr. Rochelle Walensky, director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, put the AP ahead on two developments during a busy week of virus coverage.First, Walensky discussed research into the omicron variant, revealing that a CDC report would detail that early cases appeared to be mild. Second, she gave the AP exclusive comments on her decision to allow booster doses of Pfizer’s COVID-19 vaccine for several million 16- and 17-year-olds.Those comments — on an embargo basis a day ahead of the official announcement — let the AP publish video almost immediately after the announcement. Health and science reporter Stobbe’s strong relationship with the CDC also allowed AP to report the decision 10 minutes before the agency’s press release went out, putting the AP ahead of the competition. The all-formats package included Anderson’s distinctive portraits of Walensky, and multiple video edits for newsrooms and consumers.The interview was cited by major news outlets, and footage by video journalists Lum and Martin was used by ABC’s flagship morning show, “Good Morning America.”https://aplink.news/do6https://aplink.video/782https://aplink.news/3rh

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Nov. 02, 2018

Beat of the Week

(Honorable Mention)

APNewsBreak: US mediation expert to push Venezuela political dialogue

for an APNewsBreak that uncovered an effort promoted by Sen. Bob Corker to jumpstart political dialogue in deeply polarized Venezuela. Deep source reporting by Goodman revealed secret efforts by Corker’s office to bring a Harvard-trained conflict resolution expert to Caracas for closed-door workshops with representatives of Venezuela’s socialist government and the opposition. https://bit.ly/2OMGg5m

Oct. 01, 2021

Beat of the Week

(Honorable Mention)

AP breaks news of vaccine mandate for US Olympic athletes

broke news of the groundbreaking policy mandating that U.S. Olympic athletes and staff be vaccinated by Nov. 1 to use facilities of the U.S. Olympic and Paralympic Committee in advance of February’s Beijing Games.Pells, AP’s longtime Olympics beat writer, knew that the committee was exploring a new vaccine policy and had followed the story closely. When the USOPC reached its decision they forwarded a stakeholders’ letter on the policy to Pells, telling him to be ready for its public release later in the week.Armed with the letter, Pells was fully prepped with a story and link to the freshly updated team website when the announcement came Wednesday, giving AP a full-fledged scoop on one of the first sports organizations anywhere to make vaccines mandatory. https://aplink.news/9mt

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