AP journalists secure user-generated video of ‘gnarliest wave ever’

May 16, 2012
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Surfer Garrett McNamara rides a 78-foot wave off the coast of Portugal in November 2011.

Matt Reed was working the overnight shift on the West desk in Phoenix when Michael Musielski of the New York photo desk alerted him to an AP handout photo citing the accomplishment of a Hawaii resident man who surfed what is now known to be the world’s largest wave -- a 78-foot monster. Reed notified the Hawaii bureau and new News Editor Oskar Garcia chased down the surfer, who’d ridden the wave in in Portugal in November and managed to stay out of the limelight for several months until the Guinness World Records certified the wave as the biggest ever. Garcia was the first to reach him.


The biggest competitive advantage in this case? Reed and Garcia recognized an untapped story, one no other news organization had picked up on. “It was one of those things that was right under our noses,” Garcia said.

It was the video of Garrett McNamara riding the wave that really made the story.

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See the story and video here: http://bit.ly/M9PIYD.

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Garcia worked with West Desk editor Carson Walker and the Broadcast News Center to get permission to use it. It took hours to track down the video’s owner and secure permission, but it was worth the wait. The full package of story, photos and video went out during morning drive, dominating the news agenda in Hawaii but also winning big play in Europe. Garcia’s lead helped: “Dude, that was the gnarliest wave ever. Guinness World Records says so.”

Hawaii members ran Garcia’s story on their sites, as did The Huffington Post and Yahoo. As for McNamara, his phone rang off the hook once the AP package hit the wire, but he promised to keep the AP first down the line. “I’m definitely keeping you guys on speed dial for when I get the 100-footer,” he told Garcia.

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