Dec. 20, 2016

Best of the States

Strong source work nets APNewsBreak in self-driving car showdown between Uber and Calif. officials

Los Angeles reporter Justin Pritchard has made the fledgling “autonomous vehicle” industry a sub-beat and has developed sourcing that has produced a number of significant beats for AP. When he heard Uber would begin picking up San Francisco passengers in its self-driving cars, he saw a confrontation brewing with California regulators and the opportunity for another scoop.

Uber had decided not to abide by a requirement to get a permit before starting its service in its hometown. Uber’s aggressive approach in San Francisco crashed a delicately crafted regulatory truce _ the 20 other companies testing prototypes on public roads applied for the permit before hitting the streets, and agreed to report crashes and other safety metrics.

The cars Uber was bringing to San Francisco seemed just the kind that would need a permit, but the leader of Uber’s self-driving program ­_ Anthony Levandowski _told Pritchard in an interview the day before the launch that they didn’t. He argued that because a person was behind the wheel to monitor the car, it was not advanced enough to need a permit.

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Feb. 14, 2020

Best of the Week — First Winner

AP Exclusive: Locusts swarm East Africa as a new wave forms in the Somali desert

After its shocking Jan. 25 report on the locust swarms devastating agriculture in Kenya, AP’s Nairobi team came through with another truly striking package on the worst locust outbreak that parts of East Africa have seen in 70 years. This time, Nairobi staffers Ben Curtis and Josphat Kasire obtained exclusive coverage of the next wave of young locusts now bulking up in Somalia’s desert.

The story posed multiple challenges, not the least of which was the very real threat of al-Shabab extremists in the area. And the young insects were relentless. “If you put anything down on the ground for a minute, you’d find a bunch of bugs crawling over it,” Curtis recounted.

Despite the obstacles, the team produced stunning images and vivid reporting from the source of the widespread outbreak, proof that the region’s infestation was far from over.

For resourceful and determined work that resulted in an only-on-AP direct look at the ravages of a veritable Biblical plague of locusts, Kasire and Curtis win AP’s Best of the Week award.

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Nov. 16, 2018

Best of the Week — First Winner

Cataclysmic fires cap off week of momentous and devastating news in California

California’s news staff still was in the midst of reporting the tragic night-spot shooting in Thousand Oaks when news reached the AP that a wildfire in Northern California was spreading quickly, sending thousands fleeing.

Bay Area freelance photographer Noah Berger, as good a fire chaser as there is anywhere, tipped the office off that the Northern California fire looked explosive. By 11 a.m. Sacramento reporter Don Thompson was hitting the road, and a first AP NewsAlert moved saying people fleeing for their lives had abandoned vehicles as the fire swept in.

AP’s all-formats coverage went into high gear, with staffers pouring in from the region. In addition to Thompson, who stayed at the scene with fire crews for several days straight, Portland, Ore., all-formats reporter Gilly Flaccus arrived, producing unmatched interviews in text and video of survivors and of crews searching for the remains of those killed. San Francisco reporter Paul Elias gathered information on the dramatic rescues and chaotic evacuation, while Las Vegas photographer John Locher and Denver videographer Peter Banda provided gripping visuals from the scene.

AP was first to report thousands of homes destroyed, first to report a named victim, and we were alone in accompanying a search and recovery crew in all formats as they went to a victim’s home and found her remains.

The coverage was nuanced and emotional. California News Editor Frank Baker says there was no one on the California staff who didn’t contribute, working unrelentingly from last week’s elections and mass shooting straight into the wildfire.

For outstanding work, bolstered and supported by California’s all-formats reporting staff and editors, Thompson, Flaccus, Elias, Berger, Locher and Banda share this AP's Best of the Week.

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Feb. 01, 2019

Best of the States

Trump rollbacks benefit fossil fuel industry but carry steep cost

Over the past two years, the Trump administration has relentlessly moved to relax or repeal major environmental and safety rules for the fossil fuels industry to further its energy goals. Each change was reported by news outlets, including the AP. But Billings, Montana, correspondent and environment team member Matthew Brown decided to look more deeply into the highly touted savings to industry as well as the societal costs.

Brown painstakingly examined 11 major rules targeted by Trump’s administration, wading through many thousands of pages of government documents. Brown identified $11.6 billion in potential savings for companies that produce, use and transport fossil fuels, with billions more expected from a freeze of vehicle fuel efficiency standards that will hike fuel consumption.

But Brown also discovered that those savings will come at a steep cost, including more premature deaths and illnesses from air pollution, increased greenhouse gas emissions and additional derailments of trains carrying explosive fuels.

His Only on AP story ran on front pages of at least 16 newspapers and on numerous web sites. The Washington Post displayed both the main-bar the accompanying glance.

For in-depth reporting and comprehensive accounting of the administration’s actions on important environmental and safety issues, Brown wins this week’s Best of the States.

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April 19, 2019

Best of the States

FOIA checklist enables reporter to break news in case of missing boy’s impostor

Knowing what information can be obtained through Freedom of Information Act requests (FOIAs) from various public agencies is critical to breaking news. And keeping a checklist of those information gold mines is key to accessing that knowledge, Columbus, Ohio-based reporter Andrew Welsh-Huggins has found.

Welsh-Huggins used those skills to great effect in the case of the man accused of pulling a cruel hoax by pretending to be a long-missing Illinois boy. The story captured the nation’s attention and set reporters in motion trying to flesh out the background of a 23-year-old ex-con who Ohio authorities say faked being Timmothy Pitzen. Pitzen was 6 years old when he disappeared in 2011.

Welsh-Huggins’ checklist for enterprise off the news includes FOIAs to all agencies a suspect has had contact with. He filed a FOIA with the Ohio corrections department to obtain access to the disciplinary records of suspect Brian Rini, knowing from experience that the agency would release them.

A few days later the agency handed him 15 disciplinary reports showing that Rini was someone who liked to fabricate stories – including things as mundane as being short of toilet paper and as serious as being raped by a guard.

The AP was alone with the story, which got strong play in Ohio and across the country.

For using his knowledge of FOIA to break news on this highly competitive story, Welsh-Huggins wins this week’s Best of the States.

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Aug. 29, 2019

Best of the Week — First Winner

AP delivers powerful dispatches and visuals from the front line of climate change

“There are lucky journalists but no such thing as a lucky lazy journalist.” That industry adage was again proven true when the crack team of video journalist Mstyslav Chernov, photographer Felipe Dana and science writer Seth Borenstein captured global attention by squeezing every last drop out of being in the right place at the right time for The Associated Press and its clients.

The place was Greenland, so inhospitable and remote that it is infrequently visited by journalists despite being at the epicenter of planet-threatening climate change. And the timing couldn’t have been better: As the giant but often ignored frozen island was suddenly thrust into the news when U.S. President Donald Trump unexpectedly expressed interest in buying it, sparking a diplomatic spat with Denmark, which said the semi-autonomous Danish territory wasn’t for sale.

The stories, photos and videos were widely used by AP’s membership and resonated with the public. The Helheim Glacier story landed on 16 front pages and was downloaded 85 times on AP Newsroom.

For their shining example of how to turn a pre-arranged media trip into essential world-grabbing journalism with tireless enthusiasm, smart thinking and the sharpest of eyes, Chernov, Dana and Borenstein share AP’s Best of the Week honors.

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Sept. 06, 2019

Beat of the Week

(Honorable Mention)

Coming soon to natural park trails: motorized bicycles

For source reporting and collaboration that enabled AP to break the story about the Trump administration's plan to open national park trails to motorized bikes. Sharp got a tip that the Interior Department was expected to lift a decades-long ban on any vehicles with motors on National Park hiking and biking trails. He began reporting to get reaction even before the rule change was announced. Meanwhile, Knickmeyer got a tip that evening from a non-profit foundation that Interior Secretary David Bernhardt had without any public notice signed an order lifting the ban immediately and classifying e-bikes as non-motor vehicles.

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Sept. 06, 2019

Beat of the Week

(Honorable Mention)

AP ahead of the competition in Bahamas Hurricane coverage across formats

Through smart planning, speed and considerable courage, the AP managed to be the only agency on the ground Sept. 1 as Hurricane Dorian, a powerful Category 5 storm, arrived and parked itself over the Bahamas for more than 24 hours dumping tons of water and packing sustained winds in excess of 185 MPH. Not even local broadcasters, including the government channel, were able to feed live images.

https://www.usnews.com/news/us/articles/2019-09-01/northern-bahamas-hunkers-down-as-hurricane-dorian-closes-in

Aug. 20, 2021

Beat of the Week

(Honorable Mention)

AP: Climate contributing to wildfires on tropical Pacific isles

reported exclusively in all formats on climate-fueled wildfires flaring up on tropical Pacific islands from Hawaii to Micronesia, causing environmental harm from mountaintops to coral reefs.Aware of persistent wildfire problems on some of the Hawaiian Islands and Guam, Honolulu-based Jones and Jakarta, Indonesia-based Milko reported that climate change is making once-lush areas of the islands hotter, drier and more susceptible to fire. As a result, runoff from burned areas damages coral reefs, and the fires are converting critical watershed forests to grasslands that are more prone to fire in the future.While Milko reported on the situation in Guam, where the top fire official said most fires were arson, Jones traveled to the Big Island of Hawaii which was experiencing the largest wildfire in the state’s history. He shot photos and video of firefighters at work, and gained access to private Native Hawaiian homestead land where homes and vehicles were destroyed on the slopes of Mauna Kea. He spoke to residents and evacuees for a historical perspective on the drier, more volatile land, while fire officials and scientists in Honolulu explained how climate change contributes to the fires. https://aplink.news/o3nhttps://aplink.video/mny

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Dec. 03, 2021

Beat of the Week

(Honorable Mention)

Rapid all-formats AP response after SUV plows into holiday parade

quickly swung into action when an SUV plowed into a holiday parade just as many in Wakesha, Wisconsin, were sitting down to Sunday dinner. AP delivered vivid all-formats coverage, broke news and followed up with detail-rich enterprise that included a reconstruction of the vehicle's deadly path.AP’s swiftly updated mainbar balanced the evolving information on casualties with heart-wrenching detail gleaned from livestreamed video, the smartphones of spectators and telephone interviews with marchers and witnesses. Madison-based supervisory correspondent Scott Bauer anchored the first night’s coverage, with video journalist Mike Householder speeding to the scene from nearby Kenosha, where he had been on assignment for the Kyle Rittenhouse trial.Early the next morning, lead Justice Department reporter Michael Balsamo tapped his sources to break the news that that police were looking into whether the driver had been fleeing from a crime. Investigative reporters Michael Biesecker and Bernard Condon contributed key research and reporting to flesh out the suspect, and Condon and Bauer teamed up for a fresh take when it emerged that the suspect had been free on astonishingly low bond of $1,000 — for an alleged crime that involved intentionally running over a person. Reporters Tammy Webber, Todd Richmond and Condon broke down the case for intentional homicide charges.But the most powerful offerings of the week revolved around the victims. Chicago-based Sara Burnett, with reporting from Katie Foody, Tim Sullivan, Webber and Bauer, took readers along the parade route with a reconstruction of the tragedy that a senior news manager described as “amazing writing.” And Sullivan, with reporting from Foody and Webber, brought to life the “Dancing Grannies” — the troupe of cheerful women who lost three of their number plus a volunteer.https://bit.ly/3cZeTyuhttps://bit.ly/3rksadfhttps://bit.ly/31fD757https://bit.ly/3cYN89ihttps://bit.ly/3pf1gkihttps://bit.ly/3D5q6Ixhttps://aplink.video/jaa

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Feb. 11, 2022

Beat of the Week

(Honorable Mention)

AP out front on US raid where leader of Islamic State group died

combined outstanding reporting in all formats and stellar coordination between the Washington and Beirut bureaus to put AP ahead with quick, thorough, vivid on-the-ground coverage of the U.S. raid in Syria’s Idlib province that left the Islamic State group’s leader dead.Source work by AP’s Pentagon staff gave the teams in Washington and the Mideast some advance notice of the operation, and after the raid, AP was quick to the Idlib site, filing photos, video, drone footage and eyewitness accounts. AP was ahead of the competition with its alert and a solid writethrus, as well as reporting of the death toll.Beirut added a substantive biographical piece on the dead IS leader who tried to rebuild IS from its defeat, and Washington put together a compelling timeline of the raid, from planning through aftermath.Read more

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July 29, 2022

Beat of the Week

(Honorable Mention)

The AP Interview breaks news with General Motors CEO Barra

broke local, global and financial news by tapping AP’s broad reach and deep expertise to make the most of a rare interview with one of the business world’s most powerful executives: General Motors CEO Mary Barra.After securing the all-formats sit-down, veteran auto writer Krisher and the Business News team reached out to colleagues across departments and across the globe, as well as industry experts, to craft an interview plan that was sure to deliver news. Among the nuggets from the wide-ranging interview: Barra’s bold prediction to sell more electric vehicles than Tesla in just a few years, and her commitment to keep GM’s headquarters in downtown Detroit.Read more

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Jan. 13, 2023

Beat of the Week

(Honorable Mention)

All-format CES team turns tech event into win for creative content and audience engagement

on the ground in Las Vegas drove unprecedented audience engagement for the annual CES tech show, where more than 3,000 companies push their innovations. AP provided comprehensive coverage that touched on the metaverse, sustainability, the future of electric vehicles, the economic climate for startups and more. There were dozens of video edits, at least a dozen lives, hundreds of photos, and daily roundups of the coolest, most buzz-worthy tech, all curated on the Technology hub of APnews.com.Read more.

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April 14, 2023

Best of the Week — First Winner

AP investigation uncovers brutal murder of a 16-year-old by Burkina Faso soldiers

A video in Burkina Faso showing men in military fatigues walking among the bloodied bodies of boys with their hands bound surfaced on social media in mid-February. A six-week AP project delivered a frame-by-frame analysis of the graphic, 83-second video of the killings and tracked down the relatives of one of the victims: Adama, a 16-year-old cattle herder, piecing together his final hours. A soldier smashed his head with a large rock.

Government officials denied involvement in the killings, but analysis by Global Investigative Reporter Michael Biesecker was able to show the soldiers were wearing uniforms and had vehicles consistent with members of the Burkinabe military. After West Africa Correspondent Sam Mednick got a tip, Biesecker was able to geolocate the killings to Camp Zondoma, a military base near Ouahigouya.

Mednick and her Ouagadougou translator located the teen’s family after people in the capital with ties to Ouahigouya connected them with Adama’s uncle, the first person willing to talk. The translator whose identity cannot be disclosed played a key role in getting the family to speak, despite great personal risk. Mednick persuaded the uncle to let her interview the boy’s mother, who was unaware that her son’s death had been filmed.

Visual journalist Marshall Ritzel produced a video highlighting the visual investigation and exclusive interviews with Adama’s family. An edit of the video by digital audiences producer McKinnon de Kuyper was among AP’s top social posts of the week.

For shining a spotlight on the sort of casual murder that takes place in countries around the world, Mednick, Biesecker, Ritzel, the anonymous translator in Ouagadougou and de Kuyper win this week’s first place best of the week.

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Dec. 02, 2016

Best of the Week — First Winner

Source development leads to two sharply different beats – on Henderson’s death and truck safety

The auto industry and Hollywood entertainment could hardly be more different worlds. But for AP reporters covering them, they have this in common: Building sources is essential.

Last week, Tom Krisher, a Detroit-based auto writer, and Lynn Elber, the TV writer in Los Angeles, demonstrated the value of great beat reporting. Both scored scoops that left competitors scrambling. Their stories also created a very unusual situation: A tie for Beat of the Week honors.

Krisher was the first to report the U.S. government was taking the unusual step of allowing General Motors to delay a large recall of potentially defective air bags, giving the automaker time to prove the devices are safe and possibly avoid a huge financial hit.

Elber broke the news of the death of Florence Henderson, "The Brady Bunch" star, about an hour after the beloved TV mom passed away in Los Angeles.

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Feb. 09, 2024

Best of the Week — First Winner

Live from the Grammys, AP scores massive wins with real-time stories

AP’s Global Entertainment team knew the game had changed when it came to the Grammys. They knew that the sense of the moment — in the moment — was going to win the day. And they were right. 

Collaborating with Digital colleagues, the team delivered unprecedented audiences to APNews through two real-time vehicles: a hosted live video show streamed on YouTube and a multiformat Live Blog. It was a success in two spaces crucial to bringing in new audiences to AP, and the viewership on both reflects how AP can engage viewers on high-value entertainment events. For this major accomplishment that put AP ahead and in the spotlight on one of entertainment’s most important evenings, Global Entertainment’s Live Blog and Live Stream teams and their Digital colleagues are awarded Best of the Week — First Winner.

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