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APME honors top work by the Associated Press

Saturday, June 13, 2015   (0 Comments)
Posted by: Laura Sellers-Earl
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Coverage of the grand jury's decision not to indict a Ferguson, Missouri, police officer in the shooting death of Michael Brown won honors for deadline reporting in this year's Associated Press Media Editors awards for journalism excellence by AP staffers.

An investigation of Duke Energy, the nation's largest electricity company, after a coal ash spill in North Carolina was honored in the enterprise category, and a profile of a drug-addicted prisoner who became a hospice nurse won the feature writing award.

Jake Pearson of the New York City bureau won two awards for his investigation of the deaths of prisoners at Rikers Island, a 10-jail complex in New York's East River.

"The AP staff did excellent work producing enterprising, in-depth stories and hundreds of compelling photos in the past year, making it difficult to pick only a few to honor," said APME President Alan D. Miller, managing editor of The Columbus (Ohio) Dispatch. "Those receiving APME awards are exceptionally strong and represent some of the best of journalism in America – to the benefit of readers around the world."

Photographs of the protests in Baltimore over the death of Freddie Gray while in police custody and the conflict in Ukraine won the spot news categories, while photos from a refugee camp in Chad and a series on coal miners in Appalachia won the feature categories.

Coverage of the Oso, Washington, mudslide was selected as the Best Use of Video by the judges, and a series of interactives on Ebola garnered Best Use of Multimedia honors.

In selecting the deadline reporting winner, the judges praised the staff work in covering the grand jury decision not to indict Ferguson police officer Darren Wilson in Brown's shooting. "The AP team's coverage stood out for its accuracy on deadline, for the speed with which it reported fresh news in the aftermath of the decision, and for the evenhanded treatment of an issue where stakeholder emotions ran high."

North Carolina staffers Michael Biesecker and Mitch Weiss, who detailed the cozy relationship between Duke Energy and the administration of Gov. Pat McCrory, were honored for enterprise work by the judges. "The degree of difficulty in getting this important story elevated this entry to the top. The AP staff ... had to dig hard, but the payoff was staggering and the outrage factor high," they said.

Matt Sedensky, correspondent in West Palm Beach, Florida, won the feature writing award for "One Death Too Many," the tale of Jay Westbrook, a troubled man who found his calling as a hospice nurse until death came too close. "The writer takes you on a journey that is inspiring and haunting," the judges said. "Your outlook on life and love will be changed."

Pearson was honored with the Charles Rowe Award for distinguished state reporting for his investigative work on Rikers Island, which detailed three deaths over five years in which inmates were alleged to have been fatally beaten by guards. He also won the John L. Dougherty prize for exemplary work by an AP staff member who is 30 years old or younger.

"His dogged reporting, source building in the corrections system and extensive document and data work yielded both exclusive stories and prompted action from city officials," the judges said.

Baltimore photographer Patrick Semansky won the News Single Photo award for what the judges called his "iconic image" from the Baltimore protests. "The smoke from burning stores, the long row of police in riot gear and the gas mask on a young, black man raising his fist in protest, are images that define a moment and a new age of racial tension in the United States," they said.

Photographer Evgeniy Maloletka, based in Ukraine, was honored with the News Story Photo award for his series on the conflict in Ukraine. The judges said the images "show pretty scenes – a field full of bright yellow sunflowers, a grassy meadow, an apartment with lace curtains – all marred by the jarring, graphic evidence of war. ... These chilling images show the surreal impact of war in modern society and in places we wouldn't expect to see it."

Photographer Jerome Delay, based in South Africa, won the Feature Single Photo award for his image of two young refugee girls from the Central African Republic walking together in a refugee camp in Chad. "Once again, we see innocent children amid conflict," the judges said. "But we also see hope. We see that even amid bleak circumstances, friendship blooms."

David Goldman, a photographer based in Atlanta, won the Feature Story Photo award for his collection of images of coal miners in Harlan County, Kentucky. The photos "showed us the effects on families and community as King Coal loses its influence on this Appalachian region."

Peter Santilli, Youyou Zhou, Peter Hamlin and Heidi Morrow, all based in New York, and Shawn Chen, in Chicago, were awarded the Best Use of Multimedia for their interactives on the Ebola outbreak. The series traced the progress of the disease from Africa to the U.S.; followed the final days of Thomas Eric Duncan, Ebola's first U.S. victim; and examined the work of treatment centers. The judges described the interactive on Duncan's last days as "an especially powerful" presentation.

Videographer Bill Gorman of Washington won the Best Use of Video award for "Scars, Memories Remain after Oso Mudslide," which the judges described as a "powerful, emotion-filled and compelling story. ... Gorman makes expert use of the tools at his disposal."

APME is an association of editors and content leaders at newspapers, broadcast outlets and digital newsrooms as well as journalism educators and student leaders in the United States and Canada. APME works closely with The Associated Press to foster journalism excellence.

Here are the award winners and honorable mentions:

DEADLINE REPORTING:

• Winner: coverage of the grand jury's decision not to indict Ferguson, Missouri, police officer Darren Wilson in the fatal shooting of Michael Brown.

• Honorable mention: coverage of Israel's fighting with Hamas in Gaza. "AP's team responded with lightning speed to each new development in the story, adding depth and detail each day in a manner that illuminated an incredibly complicated conflict," the judges said.

Judges: Mark Baldwin, executive editor, Rockford Register Star, chairman; Ray Rivera, editor, The Santa Fe New Mexican; and Cate Barron, vice president of content, PA Media Group.

ENTERPRISE REPORTING:

• Winner: investigation by North Carolina staffers Michael Biesecker and Mitch Weiss of Duke Energy, the nation's largest electricity company, after a coal ash spill in North Carolina. They detailed the cozy relationship between the company and the administration of Gov. Pat McCrory.

• Honorable mention: Alberto Arce, based in Mexico City, for his coverage of the violence in Central America, which the judges described as "remarkable reporting and writing."

Judges: Chris Cobler, editor, Victoria (Texas) Advocate, chairman; Chris Quinn, vice president of content, Northeast Ohio Media Group; and Laura Sellers-Earl, editor, The Daily Astorian, Astoria, Oregon.

JOHN L. DOUGHERTY AWARD FOR EXEMPLARY WORK BY AN AP STAFF MEMBER WHO IS 30 YEARS OLD OR YOUNGER:

• Winner: Jake Pearson, based in New York City, for his investigative work on Rikers Island, which detailed three deaths over five years in which inmates were alleged to have been fatally beaten by guards.

• Honorable mention: Esther Htusan, based in Yangon, Myanmar, for her coverage of the country. The judges said Htusan "displayed extraordinary courage and ingenuity in ferreting out painful stories of persecution and its repercussions, infusing her stories with agonizing details of fleeing Rohingya minorities."

• Honorable mention: Youkyung Lee, technology writer in Seoul, South Korea, was cited by the judges for her "strong reporting instincts (which) led her to a surviving crew member and key information about how the Seoul ferry tragedy transpired."

Judges: Jim Simon, deputy managing editor, The Seattle Times, chairman; Rivera; and Sonny Albarado, projects editor, Arkansas Democrat-Gazette.

FEATURE WRITING:

• Winner: Matt Sedensky, correspondent in West Palm Beach, Florida, for "One Death Too Many," the tale of Jay Westbrook, a troubled man who found his calling as a hospice nurse until death came too close.

• Honorable mention: Martha Mendoza, based in San Jose, California, for "Leaving the Jungle," the journey of a homeless woman as she reluctantly moves from one of the poorest areas of Silicon Valley to her own apartment.

Judges: Bill Church, executive editor, Herald-Tribune Media Group, Sarasota, Florida, chairman; Kelly Dyer Fry, editor, The Oklahoman; and Dennis Anderson, executive editor, Peoria (Illinois) Journal Star.


BEST USE OF MULTIMEDIA:

• Winner: Peter Santilli, Youyou Zhou, Shawn Chen, Peter Hamlin and Heidi Morrow were awarded the Best Use of Multimedia for their interactives on the Ebola outbreak.

• Honorable mention: "The Goal of Life," a bilingual feature offering a child's-eye view of the daily brutality for a majority of children growing up in Tegucigalpa, Honduras, and exploring how the discipline of soccer can provide an alternative to criminal gangs. "Emotionally compelling storytelling," the judges said.

Judges: Barron, chairwoman; George Rodrigue, editor, The (Cleveland) Plain Dealer; and Fry.

CHARLES ROWE AWARD FOR DISTINGUISHED STATE REPORTING:

• Winner: Jake Pearson, based in New York City, for his investigative work on Rikers Island, which detailed three deaths over five years in which inmates were alleged to have been fatally beaten by guards.

Judges: Anderson, chairman; Cobler; and Thomas Koetting, deputy managing editor, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel.

BEST USE OF VIDEO:

• Winner: Bill Gorman, Washington videographer, for "Scars, memories Remain after Oso Mudslide."

• Honorable Mention: "D-Day: AP Marks 70 Years since Allied Invasion in Normandy." "Great use of video to tell stories of human emotion," the judges said.

Judges: Jack Lail, director of digital, Knoxville (Tennessee) News Sentinel, chairman; and Eric Ludgood, assistant news director, WAGA-TV, Atlanta.

NEWS SINGLE PHOTO:

• Winner: Patrick Semansky, based in Baltimore, for protests in Baltimore over the death of Freddie Gray

• Honorable mention: Single Photo: Khalil Hamra, based in Gaza, for a child treated in Gaza.

NEWS STORY PHOTO:

• Winner: Evgeniy Maloletka, based in Ukraine, for a series on the conflict in Ukraine.

FEATURE SINGLE PHOTO:

• Winner: Jerome Delay, based in South Africa, for two refugee girls from the Central African Republic walking together in a refugee camp in Chad.

FEATURE STORY PHOTO:

• Winner: David Goldman, based in Atlanta, for a collection of images of coal miners in Harlan County, Kentucky.

Photo judges: Miller, Sellers-Earl and Barron.

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