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Associated Press Media Editors announces winners of the 2018 AP Staff Excellence Awards

Thursday, June 21, 2018   (0 Comments)
Posted by: Laura Sellers-Earl
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June 21, 2018


New York – Coverage of news events that tested the human spirit and challenged how we see ourselves won top honors in the 2018 Associated Press Media Editors Awards for AP staff.


Hurricane Harvey, the collapse of the caliphate in Mosul and the plight of Rohingya refugees all showcased AP’s ability to put together powerhouse teams of journalists anywhere in the world and produce award-winning work.


There were also individual honors for journalists who single-handedly made a difference with their efforts.

Sarah Rankin of the AP’s Richmond, Virginia, bureau was recognized for excellence by a staffer 30 years old or younger for a body of work that included breaking coverage of the Charlottesville white nationalist rally that turned violent. “Rankin combines tenacious reporting with elegant writing and multimedia skills,” judges said.

Rachel La Corte of AP’s Olympia, Washington, bureau was honored for her relentless reporting on state lawmakers who claimed they were exempt from public disclosure laws. “Through her reporting,” judges said, “AP got a powerful coalition of news organizations in Washington state to bring suit in this legitimate case of interest to the public.”

And Jae C. Hong won both the top award and honorable mention for photo feature stories: first place for his photos of homeless people in Los Angeles, and honorable mention for photos of people who eke out a living dressing as superheroes for tourists on Hollywood Boulevard. Judges – who did not know both series were by the same photographer – were struck by the unusual access to the subjects, which could only have been earned by putting in long stretches of time with them.

The annual AP contest honors the best staff work in news, multimedia and photography. Committees of judges are made up of national board members of the Associated Press Media Editors. Winners will be recognized at the ASNE-APME News Leadership Conference, September 11-12 in Austin, Texas.


“The breadth and depth of the work that The Associated Press produces every year is remarkable,” said Thomas Koetting, deputy managing editor of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, and coordinator of this year’s contest judging. “The judges were impressed and inspired.”

Here is the full listing of winners:


The winner receives $500 and a plaque from APME.

Winner: Staff, “Hurricane Harvey and Its Aftermath”

Judges: “The hurricane team worked under extreme conditions, and their performance in the moment was terrific, with one exclusive after another. The coverage gave the sense that they were everywhere, with poignant videos, arresting still images, and helpful graphics. When confronted with deception from sources, they forged ahead and reported the truth."

Honorable Mention: Staff, “Las Vegas Shootings”

Judges:  "This is AP at its best, combining strong human stories with facts about what was being learned as the investigation went on. It’s also obvious that top-notch editing was involved so that the work – coming in from multiple streams – didn’t stumble over itself.”

Honorable Mention: Staff, “California Wildfires”

Judges: “Stunning visuals, and heartbreaking stories of families torn apart and loved ones lost. The package is so personal, so touching, so human.”


The winner receives $1,000 sponsored by Ann Blackman and Michael Putzel and a plaque from APME.

Winner: Staff, “Collapse of the Caliphate: Triumph and Tragedy in Mosul”

Judges: “The stories have so much horror and heartbreak that they could have been almost unbearable, but they succeed because of the straightforward – almost restrained – style, and the breathtaking visual report. This is important journalism, telling the world of atrocities that must be confronted. It’s also obvious that the work was done at considerable personal risk to the journalists, who obviously put in a lot of time developing sources and story material.”

Honorable Mention: Mitch Weiss, Holbrook Mohr and Peter Prengaman, “Broken Faith”

Judges: “Strong, dogged reporting and meticulous confirmation and documentation make for a compelling story that brought about change.”


The winner receives $500 and a plaque from APME.

Winner: Jason Dearen, “The Sinking of the El Faro”

Judges: “This story is an example of creative storytelling from data and multiple sources. It is so strong, the judges said they felt chills, like they were on the ship with the crew as mistakes and late information sealed their fate.”

Honorable mention: Claire Galofaro, “Trump Country”

Judges: “This goes way beyond the traditional narrative and gets to deep reasons why people truly saw opportunity and change in a Trump presidency – feelings of resentment, of being ignored and left behind, of wondering why life had to be so hard. Excellent enterprise storytelling.”


The winner receives $1,000 sponsored by John Winn and Margo C. Miller, and a plaque from APME.

Winner: Sarah Rankin

Judges: “Rankin combines tenacious reporting with elegant writing and multimedia skills. In 2017, her work ranged from exploring the role of Confederate symbols in Virginia to the importation of coal ash at a time when local utilities were trying to get rid of it. Her high point came in breaking one update after another in the Charlottesville white nationalist rally that turned violent. Her work was urgent, compelling and well-written with solid sourcing.”


The winner receives $1,000 sponsored by an anonymous donor, and a plaque from APME.

Winner: Rachel La Corte

Judges: “Rachel La Corte got hold of an important story and didn't let it go. The strongest part of La Corte's story is the sleuthing behind the enactment of a 20-year-old law. Through her reporting, AP got a powerful coalition of news organizations in Washington state to bring suit in this legitimate case of interest to the public. This is a fine example of solution journalism.”


The winner receives $500 and a plaque from APME.

Winner: Renata Brito and Silvia Izquierdo, “Killed in Crossfire: Rio de Janeiro’s Young Victims of Violence”

Judges: “To think that the murder of children happens almost daily in Brazil a year after the fanfare of the Olympics is unfathomable. This video is gut-wrenching as it juxtaposes scenes from the streets, from funerals, from military exercises with the quiet, poignant words of those who have lost loved ones – all against a soft piano background. Brutal reality meets poignant reflection.”

Honorable Mention:  Staff, “Ferah’s World”

Judges: “The video employs a creative use of personal video reflections with illustrations in sharing the story of a 14-year-old girl’s life in Mosul under Islamic State rule. Beautifully told and a voice rarely heard in news coverage.” 


The winner receives $1,000 sponsored by an anonymous donor, and a plaque from APME.


The winner receives $500 and a plaque from APME.

Winner: Staff, “Little Rock Nine” 

Judges: “This is important documentation of history, then and now, in addition to being terrific digital storytelling. A clear winner in this category of very strong entries. The package has so many points to find information – documents, photos, narratives, videos – that it encourages the viewer to explore. The intimacy – especially in the video of Ernest Green is warm and engaging.”

Honorable mention: Staff, “Homeless: Crisis on the Coast”

Judges: “This is where the work of The Associated Press stands out: taking a phenomenon that could be seen in isolation in each city and connecting the dots to paint a portrait of a whole region undergoing change and reaching a crisis point. The outstanding visual images drive the series, which is bolstered by some shocking stories and statistics. For many, it might seem hard to believe this could be happening in our country.”


The winner receives $500 and a plaque from APME.

Winner: Adel Hana, “Wounded Youth in Gaza”

Judges: “This photo of Palestinian protesters carrying a wounded youth during clashes with Israeli troops along the Gaza Strip border brings home the tension and tragedy in this violent spot. The layering of information within the photo is remarkable – from the bloody hand in the foreground to the body being carried to the emotion on the man’s face right behind the youth to the onlookers on the hillside in the back.”

Honorable Mention: Dar Yasin, “Watching the Funeral Procession”

Judges: “We came back to this photo again and again in the judging. The image, of Kashmiri Muslims watching the funeral procession of a local rebel in Srinagar, succeeds both at the small level – it’s mesmerizing to move from face to face – and the large level – showing how all-consuming the event is for this community.”

Honorable Mention: Ben Curtis, “Kenya Election Violence”

Judges: “What a singularly devastating photo that shows profoundly human reactions to an inhumane, incredibly violent situation.”


The winner receives $500 and a plaque from APME.

Winner: Bernat Armangue, Dar Yasin and A.M. Ahad, “Rohingya: A Crisis”

Judges: “This series of photos, drawn from the plight of hundreds of thousands of Rohingya refugees fleeing their homes in Myanmar to get to Bangladesh, has a clear, focused, informative story arc. There are no wasted images; each photo takes us one more step on the journey to understanding this impossible situation.”

Honorable Mention: Felipe Dana, “War in Mosul”

Judges: “Outstanding use of light and shadows to create a profound mood, in addition to telling a story. The eyes in many of the subjects are penetrating, and more than one shot has almost a hidden surprise – the more you look at it, the more you see.”


The winner receives $500 and a plaque from APME.

Winner: David Goldman, “Melting Arctic Polar Bear”

Judges: “There’s so much in this photo – not just about climate change and the plight of a particular animal, but about loneliness and solitude and isolation and tragedy. One judge said: ‘I could look at this forever.’ ”


The winner receives $500 and a plaque from APME.

Winner: Jae C. Hong, “Homeless: Crisis on the Coast (Los Angeles)”

Judges: “A series of images that speak volumes about a photographer who clearly spent a tremendous amount of time with his subjects, and earned access that few could get. These shots, of homeless and street people in and around Los Angeles, document a growing phenomenon and show the individual, human toll.”


Honorable Mention: Jae C. Hong, “Street Superheroes”

Judges: “This series gained popularity as the judging went on, because it is both humorous and somewhat heartbreaking, and explores a side of life rarely seen. The images of a grim Superman riding the subway to work, or Captain America opening the door to his small home, stuck with us long after the smiles faded. This is layered, intimate, personal work.” (Note: Judges did not know the winner and honorable mention were from the same photographer.)


Associated Press Media Editors

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