AP's fast-breaking coverage of the mass shooting at the Fort Hood military base in Texas was honored Wednesday for Deadline Reporting by the Associated Press Managing Editors association.
"From the colorful, compelling writing, to the multimedia features, to the strong photography, this entry was an example of first-rate deadline reporting," the APME judges said in awarding the prize.
The AP put together a team of reporters, photographers, graphic artists, video journalists and editors who uncovered detailed information about the shooter, his victims and what occurred at the base.
"This doesn't happen without thorough planning, good sourcing and an excellent team of journalists," the judges said. "The multimedia features set this entry apart from all other entries."
APME is an association of editors at AP's 1,500 member newspapers in the U.S. and newspapers served by the Canadian Press in Canada. It annually recognizes outstanding work by the cooperative's journalists. The awards will be presented at APME's annual conference with the Associated Press Photo Managers Oct. 20-22 at the Poynter Institute in St. Petersburg, Fla.
AP's coverage of the oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico and of the earthquake in Haiti were recognized for several awards by the judges.
The oil spill coverage was honored for Enterprise Reporting, with the judges describing the scope of the reporting as "nothing short of amazing."
"The AP team has captured this story on so many fronts – the science, the economy, the mistakes by government and BP, the environment and the people," they said. "This team was not content to ride on the news of the day, but sought out more scientists, more government data, more residents to tell the story."
Photographer Charlie Riedel, based in Kansas City, received the News Photos award for his image of an oil-soaked pelican that the judges said has become "symbolic of the entire tragedy in the Gulf."
Reporting on the Haiti earthquake captured top honors in the Best Use of Multimedia and the Best Use of Video.
The judges described the multimedia package produced by the Interactive Department as excellent, saying it was an "outstanding and holistic presentation of a major disaster in a very digestible – and truly 'interactive' – format."
They honored videojournalist Rich Matthews for his "riveting coverage (of the Haiti quake) put together on deadline under unimaginable circumstances."
National Writer Adam Geller won the Feature Writing award for a two-part series on a Tennessee church that had built a relationship with a Haitian orphanage and sprang into action to bring the girls to the United States after the quake. "Geller captured the roller coaster of emotions experienced by church members as they went from worry to despair to joy," the judges said.
Photographer Julie Jacobson, based in Las Vegas, earned honors for Feature Photos for a series of images of opium addicts in Afghanistan, which the judges described as "a powerful piece focusing on a human tragedy symbolic of the opium problem facing Afghanistan."
Detroit newsman Corey Williams received the Charles Rowe Award for Distinguished State Reporting for a body of work that told the stories of Detroit. The judges said Williams "takes the reader deep into the woes of a city that affect an entire state. Many of the stories are gut-wrenching and need to be told."
Central Asia correspondent Peter Leonard, based in Kazakhstan, won the John L. Dougherty Award for an AP staffer with less than three years of experience with AP and less than five years overall. The judges cited his work in Kyrgyzstan, saying "his dedication under fire is underlined by simply outstanding sourcing and reporting."
The judges also awarded the following honorable mentions:
• Deadline Reporting: Haiti correspondent Jonathan Katz for coverage of the Haiti earthquake and the AP staff for its spot news coverage of the Gulf oil spill.
• Enterprise Reporting: National Writer Martha Mendoza and Asia medical writer Margie Mason for a series of stories about drug resistance.
• Feature Writing: Special Correspondent Helen O'Neill for a story on the volunteers who attend every funeral at Arlington National Cemetery, and Sydney-based writer Kristen Gelineau for a story about an Australian woman's psychotic death leap.
• Best Use of Multimedia: The Interactive Department for oil spill interactives; video graphics editor Jaime Holguin and artist Peter Hamlin for a Mexico drug wars vidgraphic; and Matt Ford of the Interactive Department and the Baghdad bureau for an Iraq elections interactive.
• Best Use of Video: Videojournalist Rich Matthews for Gulf oil spill coverage, including his underwater dive.
• News Photos: Haiti-based photographer Ramon Espinosa for Haiti earthquake coverage.
• Feature Photos: Pakistan-based photographer Muhammed Muheisen for portraits in Pakistan.