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APME honors journalism of AP staff
APME honors journalism of AP staff

Aug. 3, 2009

NEW YORK (AP) – AP's fast, multi-dimensional coverage of the splashdown of a passenger jet into the Hudson River in New York City has been honored for Deadline Reporting by the Associated Press Managing Editors Association.

"The world expects The Associated Press to react well to breaking news, especially when it occurs in the main office's backyard," the APME judges said in making the award to AP's New York City staff. "But when a US Airways jetliner crash-landed in the Hudson River on January 15, the AP staff in New York really shone, producing a series of insightful, compelling and exclusive stories that demonstrated the power of the world's largest news organization."

From the first alert at 3:51 p.m. until 11 p.m. the main story was updated 19 times. By then, AP also had produced sidebars, including profiles of the pilot and passengers, a reconstruction of the flight and the dangers birds pose to aviation, the judges noted.

"It was a company-wide effort that included several powerful and exclusive images by many photographers on the ground; multiple video packages; interactive graphics that explained how the flight failed; and bureaus around the country being enlisted in the reporting effort, from California to North Carolina to Washington, D.C.," they said. "A job well done on news that literally fell from the sky."

The association of editors at AP's 1,500 member newspapers in the U.S. and newspapers served by the Canadian Press in Canada annually recognizes outstanding work by the company's journalists. The judges reviewed nominated work published between June 1, 2008, and June 30, 2009. The awards will be presented during the APME annual conference with the Associated Press Photo Managers Oct. 28-30 in St. Louis.

Gaza photographer Khalil Hamra received the News Photos award for images chronicling the destruction, chaos and Palestinian rage associated with the Israeli incursion into Gaza, the neighborhood where Hamra lived with his partner, pregnant with twins when the fighting began. Islamabad photographer Emilio Morenatti earned honors for Feature Photos for his portraits of women victims of acid attacks in Lahore, Pakistan.

The Iraq war was central to three AP staff awards. National writer Sharon Cohen was honored for Feature Writing for a seven-part story on the longest deployment of an American unit, soldiers from the Minnesota National Guard. Photos taken for that package, "Long Haul," were part of a portfolio that earned Jae C. Hong the John L. Dougherty Award for a newer AP staffer.

Best Use of Video was awarded to photojournalists Evan Vucci, Maya Alleruzzo and Rick Bowmer, and multimedia producer Matt Ford, for "Killer Blue: Baptized by Fire," a multimedia package blending video, still photos and text telling the story of one of the last Army units to serve a 15-month combat tour in Iraq before tours were cut to 12 months.

An exclusive AP national economic stress index received the Best Use of Multimedia Award. Credited were South Editor Brian Carovillano and multimedia editor Peter Prengaman in Atlanta, Central Editor David Scott in Chicago, Orlando correspondent Mike Schneider, newsman Mike Baker in Raleigh, N.C., artist Carrie Osgood in New York, producer Jake O'Connell in New York, developers John Balestrieri and Allen Chen in New York and developer Troy Thibodeaux in Washington.

Africa correspondent Michelle Faul received the Enterprise Reporting award for a series focusing on unrest in the Congo, including accounts of how girls, young children and even babies had been raped by rebel soldiers.

Springfield, Ill., newsman John O'Connor received the Charles Rowe Award for Distinguished State Reporting for a body of work that included coverage of the misconduct of ousted Illinois Gov. Rod Blagojevich, wasteful spending by bureaucrats and details about the parole status of the man accused of killing singer Jennifer Hudson's family.

The judges also awarded the following honorable mentions:

■ Deadline Reporting: reporters in Chicago, Washington and elsewhere for coverage of Blagojevich's arrest.

■ Feature Writing: special correspondent Helen O'Neill for a profile of a brilliant young chef who faces cancer of the tongue; O'Neill for a profile of an aging racist who apologized for beating a young black activist a half-century ago – Rep. John Lewis; Texas sports editor Jaime Aron for a narrative about the premature birth of his twin sons and the tiny babies' struggle to survive; and Orange County, Calif., correspondent Gillian Flaccus for a look behind the "roll call of the dead" reading of the names of 148,000 veterans at Riverside National Cemetery.

■ Enterprise Reporting: breaking news, scoops and features from the U.S.-Mexico border by San Diego-based writer Elliott Spagat; medical writer Marilynn Marchione for a critical look at the claimed curative powers of alternative medicine; AP teams in Afghanistan and Pakistan for groundbreaking stories from the region; and the investigative team of Jeff Donn, Martha Mendoza and Justin Pritchard for reporting that America's drinking water supplies are contaminated with trace concentrations of a multitude of pharmaceuticals.

■ John L. Dougherty Award: Kenya correspondent Katharine Houreld for a variety of stories from the region.

■ Best Use of Multimedia: the Washington multimedia team for presentation of the 2008 election.

■ Best Use of Video: Julie Pace, Jason Bronis, Bonny Ghosh, Rich Matthews, Sagar Meghani and Michael Waldon for coverage of the inauguration of Barack Obama.

■ News Photos: David Guttenfelder, chief of Asia photos and based in Tokyo, for dramatic photos from being embedded with an American military unit in Afghanistan; Morenatti for photos of refugees from Swat Valley violence.

■ Feature Photos: Guatemala-based photographer Rodrigo Abd for a photo of a Guatemalan transvestite talking with her mother surrounded by dogs, puppies, chickens and children; Ariana Cubillo, Caracas, Venezuela, for a story on a maternity hospital in Haiti.

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