AP staffers win APME awards for coverage of Superstorm Sandy, terrorism in Africa

July 29, 2013
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NEW YORK (AP) — Coverage of Superstorm Sandy and terrorism in Africa won awards for deadline, enterprise and state reporting from the Associated Press Media Editors association for journalism excellence by AP staffers.

"AP's New York and New Jersey staffs' coverage of the 800-mile-wide mashup called Sandy was, in a word, exceptional," the APME judges said in awarding the Deadline Reporting prize to the team that covered the storm. They said that under the worst of conditions, including their personal storm woes and risks, the staff provided up-to-the minute, authoritative coverage that was "nothing short of stellar."

They described the coverage as "wire service reporting at its best — quickly updated, well-written, compelling and comprehensive."

The New York and New Jersey staffs also were awarded the Charles Rowe Award for distinguished state reporting for the Sandy coverage.

In honoring West Africa bureau chief Rukmini Callimachi for her pieces on terrorism, the judges said the stories were "fascinating, horrific and well-told."

Callimachi's work included a story in December 2012 describing how al-Qaida was carving out its own country in Mali; a month later, France sent its military to rout Islamic extremists from the northern part of the country.

Callimachi went to Timbuktu, where she found documents left behind when al-Qaida fled the storied city ahead of advancing French and Malian troops. They included a letter from al-Qaida reprimanding the alleged mastermind of the deadly hostage-taking at an Algeria gas plant and a manifesto detailing al-Qaida's plan to conquer northern Mali. Callimachi also wrote "Love in the Time of Shariah," the story of a woman who was flogged by Islamic militants for her relationship with a married man.

The judges said Callimachi "showed much bravery, enterprise and knowledge in uncovering these stories." They described her work as "courageous pursuit of news under extreme conditions; an important voice that many more news outlets need to reflect. Her reporting reminds us why the AP matters so much in this profession."

Photographer Charles Krupa, based in Boston, won the News Single Photo award for his image from the Boston Marathon bombing of medical workers running an injured man past the finish line in a wheelchair.

"This dramatic image of the Boston Marathon bombing aftermath is the iconic image for that event," the judges said. "For the photographer to have the composure to capture this amid the chaos is incredible."

Cairo photographer Khalil Hamra won the News Story Photo award for his series on the fighting in Syria, which the judges described as "raw, detailed and insightful" images.

Photographer David Goldman of Atlanta won the Feature Single Photo award for his image of a retired Marine teaching a young Boy Scout the proper salute at a veteran's grave. "It's a compelling and poignant photo," the judges said.

Altaf Qadri, a photographer based in New Delhi, won the Feature Story Photo award for his series on a makeshift school for slum children under a New Delhi bridge. "As a result of this photo story, readers were inspired to give donations that resulted in improvements to the school," the judges said.

India bureau chief Ravi Nessman and Kristen Gelineau, bureau chief for Australia, won the Feature Writing award for "The Longest Journey," the story of a young man's quest to find his mother after they were separated decades earlier in India and he was adopted by a family in Australia. The judges said the story, based on reporting from two continents, read like a novel.

"The writers avoid a clichéd fairy-tale ending and instead tell a story of loss, hope, an improbable reunion and the harsh reality of two lives changed forever," they said.

Interactive producers Nathan Griffiths, Peter Santilli and Peter Hamlin, all of New York, were cited for Best Use of Multimedia for leading the Interactive Department in its work on the AP's coverage of the selection of the new pope at the Vatican. The package was described by the judges as "deep, rich and fact-laden," providing a picture of a pope who was relatively unknown to readers.

A video series on last year's devastating drought in the Midwest was cited for the Best Use of Video. The series was produced by the team of John Mone, a video journalist based in Dallas, former AP video journalist Robert Ray, Omaha-based photographer Nati Harnik and former Washington video producer Nicole Grether. The judges described the series as "show-and-tell journalism at its best. The video documented the heart-breaking effects of the lack of water."

Hannah Dreier was awarded the John L. Dougherty prize for exemplary work by an AP staff member who is 30 years old or younger. The judges said her work in California's Sacramento bureau "holds government and our leaders accountable, challenging them." They cited her stories analyzing public records on legislators' frequent vote changes after the outcome was certain and the use of funds from a special license plate for 9/11 victims that went instead to shore up the state budget. Dreier is now a newswoman in Las Vegas.

The judges also awarded the following honorable mentions:

—Deadline Reporting: the Wisconsin staff for coverage of the Sikh temple shooting and the Colorado staff for coverage of the Aurora theater shootings.

—Enterprise Reporting: the Syrian civil war by Cairo bureau chief Hamza Hendawi, former Beirut staffer Ben Hubbard, Chief Palestinian correspondent Karin Laub, Cairo newsman Steve Negus and Amman, Jordan, correspondent Jamal Halaby; China's reach, a series analyzing China's global reach by Beijing business writer Joe McDonald, Seoul newswoman Youkyung Lee, former Beijing bureau chief Charles Hutzler, Canberra, Australia, newsman Rod McGuirk, Paris newswoman Sarah Dilorenzo, Wellington, New Zealand, newsman Nick Perry, Bangkok newsman Denis Gray, and Tokyo business writer Elaine Kurtenbach; and California license plates by Hannah Dreier and Juliet Williams, of the Sacramento bureau, about diverting funds from a special license plate for 9/11 victims to help the state's budget.

—Feature Writing: Chicago-based National Writer Sharon Cohen for "The Man Who Saved Many," the story of an Army captain who helped many with trauma in Iraq but couldn't save himself at home.

—Best Use of Multimedia: Nick Harbaugh and Phil Holm, based in New York, for the civil war in Syria.

—Charles Rowe Award: Hannah Dreier and Juliet Williams for California legislative vote-switching.

—News Single Photo: Sue Ogrocki, based in Oklahoma City, tornadoes in Moore, Okla.

—News Series Photo: Bernat Armanque, based in Jerusalem, the conflict in Gaza.

—Feature Single Photo: Emilio Morenatti, based in Barcelona, Spain, a nun reacting to white smoke from the Vatican signaling a new pope.

—Feature Series Photo: Bebeto Matthews, based in New York, for "Sandy Claus," a series chronicling a man who started a charitable enterprise to collect and deliver toys to children affected by Superstorm Sandy.

APME is an association of editors at newspapers, broadcast outlets and journalism educators and students leaders in the United States and Canada. It works closely with the AP to foster journalism excellence.

Judges were Michael Days, editor, Philadelphia Daily News; Kurt Franck, executive editor, The Blade, Toledo, Ohio; Mark Baldwin, executive editor, Rockford (Ill.) Register Star; Debra Adams Simmons, editor, The (Cleveland) Plain Dealer; Angie Muhs, executive editor/Interactive, Portland (Maine) Press Herald; Laura Sellers-Earl, digital development director, EO Media Group, Astoria, Ore.; Jan Touney, executive editor, Quad-City Times, Davenport, Iowa; Monica Richardson, managing editor, The Atlanta Journal-Constitution; Bill Church, executive editor, Herald-Tribune Media Group, Sarasota, Fla.; Aminda Marques Gonzalez, executive editor, The Miami Herald; Dennis Anderson, executive editor, Peoria (Ill.) Journal Star; Laura Kessel, managing editor, News-Herald, Willoughby, Ohio; Jack Lail, director of digital, Knoxville (Tenn.) News Sentinel; J.B. Bittner, managing editor, The Elk City Daily News, Vici, Okla.; Gary Graham, editor, The Spokesman-Review, Spokane, Wash.; Elbert Tucker, director of news, WBNS-10TV, Columbus, Ohio; Greg Peppers, AP executive producer, domestic video; and Chris Cobler, editor, Victoria (Texas) Advocate.

Judges for the photo awards were Jeff Knox, director of photography, Daily Herald, Arlington Heights, Ill.; Bob Heisse, executive editor, The State Journal-Register, Springfield, Ill.; Debra Adams Simons, editor, The (Cleveland) Plain Dealer; and Alan Miller, managing editor, the Columbus (Ohio) Dispatch.

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