March 31, 2023

Best of the Week — First Winner

Years of source work in Texas leads to power narrative enterprise story

Jake Bleiberg spent years reporting on Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton, including an investigation in September into the dropped cases. That story caught the attention of Irma Reyes, a South Texas mother, who reached out to Bleiberg to say that something similar was probably about to happen in the cases of two men charged with sex trafficking her daughter. Bleiberg checked sources and records and then headed to court, where he and Eric Gay witnessed Reyes’s worst fears come to pass.    

The resulting story became the most engaged story of the week on APNews. It also received extensive play across Texas and national media outlets, and won praise from elected officials critical of Paxton, as well as from prosecutors, and even a lawyer for one of the men accused in the case.    

For their compelling all-formats narrative story that put a human face on the dysfunction in Texas that led prosecutors to drop human trafficking and child sexual abuse cases, writer Jake Bleiberg, photographer Eric Gay and video journalist Lekan Oyekanmi are the first winners of this week’s Best of the Week award. 

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March 24, 2023

Best of the Week — First Winner

AP looks ahead at new generation’s hopes 20 years after U.S. invasion of Iraq, not just behind at destruction

AP boasts about its global reach. An all-formats package reported from Iraq demonstrates how the deep expertise of its journalists also reaches back through history. 

We have an amazing team that covers Iraq day in and day out. But we also have a hidden resource: people who were there when history happened and are with us today. When we see the opportunity, we can offer our readers and customers that context. That was the case with Jerome Delay and John Daniszewski, both of whom were there in 2003 at the beginning of it all. They went back to offer some context about what has changed.

Delay and Daniszewski were both among the few international journalists in Baghdad when the U.S. launched its “shock and awe” campaign. They joined with video journalist Lujain Jo, a native Iraqi, and video journalist Jerry Marmer, who was embedded with Marines who invaded by land 20 years ago, to deliver an authoritative and nuanced portrait of a country that’s been out of the spotlight since the defeat of the Islamic State group five years ago.  

Instead of focusing solely on the war-torn image that many Iraqis say is outdated, the AP team’s package also focused on what’s ahead for Iraq. Beyond exclusive interviews with the Iraqi president and prime minister, they also conducted dozens of interviews with Iraqi youth. These gave a deeper and sometimes counterintuitive look at a generation interrupted by war and terrorism, whose voices are rarely heard outside their home country. Half of Iraq’s population of 40 million is too young to remember Saddam Hussein.   

For their sensitive and forward-looking view of an invasion that hit Iraq 20 years in the past, bolstered by their own lived experiences of it, Delay, Daniszewski, Jo and Harmer are this week’s Best of the Week — First Winner.  

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March 17, 2023

Best of the Week — First Winner

AP shows why young Americans are shunning college

News outlets had widely reported a drop in U.S. college enrollment, but nobody had really explained why. Education reporter Collin Binkley and Ohio-based video journalist Patrick Orsagos figured the best way to find out was to talk with young adults themselves.   

Binkley won a grant from the Education Writers Association and traveled with Orsagos to western Tennessee, where the pair conducted cross-format interviews with high school graduates whose stories exposed the reasons behind the trend: The high cost of higher education. Fear of student debt. A hot job market. General disillusionment with education after high school experiences disrupted by the pandemic and school closures.   

The story sparked wide discussion about the cost of college, the need for reform in higher education and the relevance of a bachelor’s degree in today’s economy. The day after publication the story landed on Reddit’s “popular” page, thanks to a post on the “Futurology” subreddit that received more than 25,000 upvotes and 3,000 comments. It appeared on at least 21 newspaper front pages, with good play on The Tennessean, The Jackson Sun, The Columbus Dispatch, The Roanoke Times and the Ithaca Journal, among others.

The story was tweeted by several members of Congress, including Sen. Marco Rubio. Parents, professors and other readers reached out via email and social media, saying the story resonated with them and demonstrated the need for America’s colleges to offer something young people see value in. And the former admissions director at Jackson State Community College offered to advise one of the students in the story on her college options; that student said she plans to contact him.  

For going to the source to find the reasons behind a major trend, Binkley and Orsagos share this week’s Best of the Week — First Place honors.

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Jan. 27, 2023

Best of the Week — First Winner

AP's Boone spearheads 20-outlet legal challenge to Idaho college stabbings gag order

The fatal stabbings of four college students at the University of Idaho campus in Moscow, Idaho, in November 2022 were initially shrouded in mystery and misinformation. As Boise, Idaho, Supervisory Correspondent Rebecca Boone worked to untangle all of this, a judge put up yet another barrier to getting the story to the public: a sweeping gag order prohibiting law enforcement agencies, attorneys or anyone else associated with the case from discussing it publicly.   

In the middle of one of the biggest stories in the nation, Boone suddenly had a new task on her plate: singlehandedly spearheading a legal challenge to the gag order — ultimately recruiting a coalition of 22 print and TV media outlets, including The New York Times, to join the cause.  

The AP couldn't have had a better advocate for the task. Boone has a track record of fighting for press access and has made the issue a top priority in her lengthy AP career. 

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Feb. 03, 2023

Beat of the Week

(Honorable Mention)

Cross-format collaboration produces in-depth coverage of L.A. area massacre

's coverage of Los Angeles County's worst massacre led to an array of stories and visuals that portrayed not only the human suffering and complex cultural significance of the community where the attack occurred, but also held police accountable for their hours-long delay in alerting the public that a mass killer was on the loose.

Bernard Condon, Jim Mustian and Julie Watson reconstructed a detailed timeline of the shooting to confidently report that it took five hours after the shooting for authorities to alert the public that the gunman was on the loose. The story was widely played and was followed by the Los Angeles Times, which played catch-up on its own turf. AP was one of only several outlets to obtain video surveillance footage showing a hero wresting the weapon from the shooter and was among the first news outlets to report details on all 11 victims.Read more.

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Feb. 03, 2023

Beat of the Week

(Honorable Mention)

AP Exclusive: Emails reveal tensions in Colorado River talks

relied on emails obtained through open records requests for an exclusive story documenting the competing priorities and tensions that sank negotiations between several western states for voluntary cuts in Colorado River water allotments.

Interviews with water officials cultivated for months -- or in Fonseca's case, years -- were key to supplementing and explaining what the emails showed. A separate public records request by Michael Phillis helped in building a timeline of the negotiations.Read more.

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Jan. 27, 2023

Beat of the Week

(Honorable Mention)

Confidential document reveals key human role in gunshot-detection technology

broke the news that gunshot-detection company ShotSpotter gives its human reviewers broad discretion to overrule an artificial intelligence-powered law enforcement tool’s determination about whether something is a gunshot. The exclusive came after Burke, an investigative reporter in San Francisco, obtained a confidential ShotSpotter document. The document provided a unique window into the company whose data is sent to police and used in criminal cases nationwide.Read more.

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Jan. 27, 2023

Beat of the Week

(Honorable Mention)

All-formats team connects people whose lives depend on the Amazon forest with larger climate goals

teamed up for a visually striking package looking at a program that might point the way forward for sustainable development of the Amazon. It involves a major French shoe company, Veja, and traditional rubber tapping.

Tappers working with a local cooperative provide rubber to Veja to use in their shoes. The arrangement is a solutions-based way forward to protect the forest.Read more.

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