Feb. 08, 2019

Best of the Week — First Winner

Exclusive AP analysis: The NFL keeps getting younger and cheaper

The unusually short careers of NFL players have long been a thorny issue among the players, the league and even fans of one of the most injury-prone leagues in sports. A pair of high-profile contract disputes during the 2018 season placed the topic front-and-center yet again.

But what more was there to say?

Denver-based national sports writer Eddie Pells and Global Sports Editor Michael Giarrusso came up with the idea of mining data to illustrate how average experience on NFL rosters has changed since 2011, when the league and players agreed to a contract designed in part to help veterans get a bigger share of revenue.

Pells was joined by New York-based data journalist Larry Fenn who started digging. After scouring season-opening rosters from the last 14 years, Pells and Fenn had the data: Average experience in the league was going down consistently as every team chose younger players over veterans who would earn more – even if the veterans were better players.

Pells then asked more than a dozen AP writers in the field for reaction from key players on the teams they covered, while Fenn worked with Top Stories designer Phil Holm, who produced insightful illustrations of the data. Pells also collaborated on videos that were used on social media and embedded in the story.

Other stories in the package included a profile of a typical 4-year player who is cut just as he became eligible for a larger contract, a piece on shortened careers at the center position, and a column foreshadowing collective-bargaining hurdles. Pells also did a story looking at how Super Bowl champions shed expensive players after winning the title.

The package was released in the week leading up to the Super Bowl, commanding attention across the football landscape and getting about double the usage of typical top sports stories. Senior Vice President and Executive Editor Sally Buzbee called it a blueprint for how to plan coverage around big events by timing enterprise and breaking news when attention is high.

For using data and creative storytelling to quantify one of the NFL’s central issues and break news during the biggest sports week of the year, Pells, Fenn and Holm share AP’s Best of the Week award.

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May 07, 2021

Best of the Week — First Winner

AP’s ace soccer journalist scores in all formats as protest turns violent at Manchester United

Building on his recent coverage of the collapse of the Super League, AP global soccer writer Rob Harris knew he needed to attend Sunday’s match between two teams that were part of the failed breakaway league — Manchester United and Liverpool — amid rising fan anger at the clubs.

Reporters were prevented from entering the stadium hours before the scheduled kickoff, with most waiting outside the entrance to Old Trafford. But Harris looped around the opposite side of the stadium to get closer to the expected protests.

What followed was a multiformat win. As the the crowd grew unruly, eventually breaking into the stadium and onto the field, lighting flares and lobbing bottles, Harris phoned in text and uploaded video from the melee, including the start of clashes between fans and police. He and a pair of stringers supplemented with photos. On an important day for Premier League coverage, Harris’ video was featured in major networks’ coverage, and AP’s text alert on the postponement of the game beat even Britain’s top agency. 

For all-formats command of his beat under difficult circumstances, and significant wins against the competition, Harris earns AP’s Best of the Week honors.

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April 08, 2022

Beat of the Week

(Honorable Mention)

Only on AP: Behind-the-scenes with women’s NCAA champions

had exclusive behind-the-scenes access during top-ranked South Carolina’s run to the women’s NCAA championship, the pair delivering unique content in the highly competitive environment of the game’s biggest stage.South Carolina sports writer Iacobelli has established a good rapport with basketball coach Dawn Staley, who allowed him to join the team during the Final Four in Minneapolis. He teamed up with Des Moines, Iowa-based photographer Charlie Neibergall to produce a widely used package that moved the morning after the Gamecocks captured their second national title under Staley.Read more

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July 01, 2022

Beat of the Week

(Honorable Mention)

AP delivers sweeping multiformat coverage of Title IX at 50

collaborated on a comprehensive all-formats package marking the 50th anniversary of Title IX, the groundbreaking law that prohibits sex-based discrimination in schools or education programs.Journalists in multiple disciplines — sports, education, race and ethnicity, and others — teamed up to develop story ideas and execution, coordinating resources to address the most important topics regarding Title IX: how the law was born, the impact it has had on athletes and women in general, the challenges it faces, the progress made and where the law falls short.The package included exclusive interviews with sports legends Billie Jean King and Ann Meyers, stories on transgender athletes, campus sexual assault, inequalities in opportunities for women of color, a scoop on an NCAA report examining the current status of Title IX, an AP Poll of Americans' perception of the progress made by Title IX, and more. All delivered over the course of 10 days in a curated presentation incorporating text, video, photos and graphics.Read more

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Nov. 04, 2022

Beat of the Week

(Honorable Mention)

Only on AP: No US-born Black players in the World Series

noticed at the 2005 World Series that the Houston Astros fielded a team without any U.S.-born Black players, prompting the AP baseball writer to wonder when he would cover a World Series without such a player on either team. The answer: 2022.Leaning on his previous reporting, reaching out to sources and working closely with Race and Ethnicity reporter Aaron Morrison for precise language about Black identity in baseball clubhouses, Walker and AP were alone in reporting that this year’s Astros-Phillies Fall Classic would be the first since 1950 without any U.S.-born Black players.In a World Series full of big names and rich storylines, Walker’s piece was undoubtedly the buzz of baseball in the days before Game 1. It was the top Google result for searches of “World Series,” “MLB” and “baseball” for several days, and it was cited widely even outside the sports world, by NPR, CNN and others.Read more

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Aug. 09, 2018

Beat of the Week

(Honorable Mention)

With resilience and heavy hearts, Stoneman Douglas starts football season

for his detail-laden account of the first practice of the football season at Florida’s Stoneman Douglas High School. Among the victims in the Feb. 14 massacre at the school that killed 17 people was assistant football coach Aaron Feis. The emotional training took place at midnight and AP was the only media allowed to attend except for hometown paper. https://bit.ly/2vfM4IJ

Feb. 09, 2017

Best of the Week — First Winner

A Super Bowl week scoop: Emails detailing Falcons' reliance on painkillers

It was just a coincidence: Emails from 2010, showing that the Atlanta Falcons were worried about the team’s reliance on painkillers, were quietly entered into the court record as the Falcons were making just their second Super Bowl appearance. But AP sports columnist Jim Litke was prepared, and the result was a Super Bowl week scoop.

Litke's story is the Beat of the Week.

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