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Teams covering Gaza and Lebanon conflicts among winners of staff awards
Teams covering Gaza and Lebanon conflicts among winners of staff awards

Aug. 2, 2007

NEW YORK (AP) – Teams of AP journalists who at great personal risk provided coverage of two Middle East conflicts – the Hamas takeover of Gaza and last year's war between Hezbollah and Israel – have been honored by the Associated Press Managing Editors.

The APME deadline reporting award for 2006-07 was won by the team, led by reporters Diaa Hadid and Sarah El Deeb, that described in vivid detail Hamas' bloody takeover of the coastal strip from Fatah in June.

"The staff delivered very compelling stories under extreme conditions," said the judges, members of the APME board. "Turning out that type of writing on deadline, while surrounded by gunfire, was amazing ... This entry shows why newspapers depend on the AP for fast, accurate reporting from around the globe."

Others cited in the entry were APTN cameraman Rashid Rasheed, reporter Karin Laub, photographers Hatem Moussa and Khalil Hamra and driver Mamdouh Al-Masri.

Coverage of the Middle East also was central to the news photography award, which went to a team of photographers covering the intense monthlong Israeli-Hezbollah war last summer. The package included work by Kevork Djansezian, Mohammed Zaatari, Pier Paolo Cito, Kevin Frayer, Baz Ratner, David Guttenfelder, Lefteris Pitarakis, Oded Balilty, Sebastian Scheiner, Matt Dunham and Hussein Malla.

"Each image was beautiful in a situation where there wasn't much beauty," the photo judges said. "Collectively, the AP photographers were courageous in their storytelling process to bring the images back to places were people don't live in fear."

Guttenfelder also received the award for feature photography for his visual documentation of the effects of Agent Orange on children in Vietnam more than 30 years after the end of that conflict.

"Guttenfelder's poignant images are moving because they show children with various forms of physical and mental disabilities in everyday situations," the judges said.

APME, an association of editors at 1,500 AP member newspapers in the U.S. and the Canadian Press in Canada, recognizes journalism excellence among the news cooperative's staff with awards in eight categories. The entries were judged Saturday in New York ahead of a meeting of the association's board of directors.

In other awards announced Wednesday:

■ Ryan Lenz, correspondent in Evansville, Ind., received the enterprise reporting award for breaking, while on assignment in Iraq, the story of the rape and murder of an Iraqi girl and her family.

■ Rukmini Callimachi won the feature writing award for a story that personalized the quest to identify unidentified Hurricane Katrina victims in New Orleans.

■ Laura Wides-Munoz of the Miami bureau received the Charles Rowe Award for Distinguished State Reporting, for coverage of Hispanic affairs.

■ Fresno Correspondent Garance Burke won the John L. Dougherty Award, given to a staffer with less than three years of experience with the cooperative and five years total.

The first award for best use of multimedia was given to the team of Dave Clark, Francois Duckett and Jonathan Warren, all from the online department, and reporters Scott Lindlaw and Martha Mendoza for their interactive reconstruction online of the 2004 friendly fire death of Army Ranger and former football star Pat Tillman in Afghanistan. See the multimedia package here.

"We came away impressed with the level of sophistication that the AP has developed to multimedia story-telling," said Steve Sidlo, editor and publisher of the Springfield (Ohio) News-Sun, who chaired the judging in that category.

The awards will be presented during APME's annual conference, which runs from Oct. 3-6 in Washington.

The judges also awarded the following honorable mentions:

■ Deadline reporting: Mark Scolforo, Marc Levy, Adam Geller, Deborah Hastings, for coverage of the Amish school shootings in Lancaster County, Pa. 

■ Enterprise: AP Correspondent Alfred de Montesquieu for coverage of Darfur; Washington reporter Hope Yen for reporting on bonuses paid to bureaucrats at the troubled Veterans Affairs Department.

■ Charles Rowe award: New Orleans newsman Cain Burdeau for uncovering problems with pumps installed in the Crescent City in the wake of Katrina; Missouri staffers David Lieb, Alan Zagier and Marcus Kabel for coverage of a nursing home fire; John O'Connor of Springfield, Ill., for his stories revealing Illinois government corruption.

■ John L. Dougherty award: Ryan Foley, Madison, Wis.

■ Best use of multimedia: the online team of Warren, Clark, Duckett and Sean McDade for an interactive about the new clues that continue to turn up 70 years after the disappearance of Amelia Earhart.

■ Feature writing: Allen Breed, a national writer based in Raleigh, N.C., and Binaj Gurubacharya, correspondent in Nepal, for a piece on the death-defying and danger-denial culture of Mount Everest climbers.

■ News photography: Team coverage of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict (Emilio Morenatti, Oded Balilty, Sebastian Scheiner, Majdi Mohammed, Kevin Frayer, Ariel Schalit, Hatem Moussa, Khalil Hamra, Tsafrir Abayov, Nasser Ishtayeh, Mohammed Ballas, Adel Hana, Nasser Shiyoukhi, Eyad Albaba, Alvaro Barrientos, Lefteris Pitarakis, Muhammed Muheisen); also, Pavel Rahman in Bangladesh, for a photo of two brothers in a landslide.

■ Feature photography: Inaldo Perez, based in Cali, Colombia, for a photo of a woman hugging a lion, and Rodrigo Abd in Guatemala, for coverage of the practice in that country of requiring families to pay dues to maintain grave sites at cemeteries.

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