April 26, 2024

Best of the Week — First Winner

AP exclusive details how ERs are refusing to treat pregnant women after Roe v. Wade was overturned

In an exclusive based on documents released under the Freedom of Information Act, Washington-based health policy reporter Amanda Seitz reported on complaints that pregnant women were being turned away from emergency rooms in the months after Roe v. Wade was overturned, despite federal law requiring that they be treated.

The Emergency Medical Treatment and Active Labor Act was seen as a safety net to ensure that pregnant women experiencing a medical emergency could get abortions in states where the procedure had been banned. But Seitz set out to find out if it really was. She submitted a FOIA request in February 2023 seeking information about pregnancy-related complaints under the federal law.

After almost a year of waiting, the FOIA office finally agreed to release records but said it would take another four years to get the documents. With a crucial U.S. Supreme Court case pending, Seitz negotiated a limited release of documents in certain states.

In March, she finally got what she was looking for: a rundown of complaints about violations in the months after Roe was overturned in 2022. The documents showed a spike in the number of complaints post-Roe and included horrific accounts of pregnant women receiving improper care. But they left open the question of what penalties ERs were facing for violating the law.

While many other news organizations wrote about the upcoming Supreme Court arguments on the EMTALA law, because of Seitz the AP was alone with the details about the complaints spiking. She is Best of the Week — First Winner.

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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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May 10, 2024

Best of the Week — First Winner

AP exclusively breaks news that DEA moving to reclassify marijuana as a less dangerous drug

White House Correspondent Zeke Miller, Latin America Correspondent Joshua Goodman, Investigative Reporter Jim Mustian and Washington Reporter Lindsay Whitehurst combined forces to exclusively break the news that the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration is moving to reclassify marijuana as a less dangerous drug, a historic shift that could clear the way toward easing federal criminal penalties on pot at a time when President Joe Biden is seeking the support of younger voters.

The DEA’s biggest policy recommendation in its 50-year history had been highly anticipated and hotly contested by every major news organization. In the end, AP’s bombshell story last Tuesday left competitors scrambling to match AP’s reporting and give AP full credit for being first.

But AP wasn’t done. In the ensuing hours there was another APNewsAlert on Attorney General Merrick Garland endorsing the DEA proposal, a politics sidebar by Jonathan J. Cooper on how this is Biden’s latest attempt to reach out to younger voters and a “What It Means” glance by Jennifer Peltz and Whitehurst that unpacked the nuances of the order. That was also neatly presented in an AP video narrated by Whitehurst.

For strong, fast, exclusive reporting that put the AP out front to drive the conversation on a historic policy shift on pot, Miller, Goodman, Mustian and Whitehurst are 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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