Last year was one of significant accomplishments for The Associated Press, from challenges to government overreach and a sweep of the world’s top photo prizes to enhanced financial stability and precedent-setting victories in protecting AP content. We introduced a streamlined new structure of AP’s business side, launched a plan to further build out our U.S. State News Reports, released a robust new platform for our photo business, and broke vitally important news about disarray in America’s nuclear missile forces, al-Qaida’s inner operations and continuing dysfunction in the rollout of the Affordable Care Act. In all, 2013 reinforced AP’s reputation as the definitive source for news and for leadership in news values and freedom of the press.
In May, we learned that the U.S. Department of Justice had secretly seized a broad swath of AP phone records as part of a leaks investigation related to a story we had done. It was clearly unconstitutional, and we hit back hard. The DOJ responded almost immediately, and has now updated and strengthened the guidelines surrounding use of subpoenas on journalists — rules that we believe would have prevented the seizure if they had been in place at the time.
South African artist John Adams works on a giant painting of Nelson Mandela in suburban Johannesburg, July 15, 2013. Adams said he made the painting as thanks to Mandela for creating educational opportunities that enabled him to become an artist. AP Photo / Ben Curtis View on apimages.com >
AP President and CEO Gary Pruitt speaks at the National Press Club in Washington, June 19, 2013. Pruitt described how the U.S. Justice Department violated its own rules in subpoenaing AP phone records. AP Photo / Charles Dharapak View on apimages.com >
Women's snowboard parallel giant slalom gold medalist Patrizia Kummer of Switzerland, left, celebrates with bronze medalist Alena Zavarzina of Russia at the 2014 Winter Olympics, in Krasnaya Polyana, Russia, Feb. 19, 2014. AP Photo / Andy Wong View on apimages.com >
“There can be no possible justification for such an overbroad collection of the telephone communications of The Associated Press and its reporters.”
Gary Pruitt, AP president and CEO, in a letter to Attorney General Eric Holder
We pursued other crucial First Amendment efforts last year, too. We pressured the White House to open photo access to presidential events and activities that they increasingly have been restricting. And we requested — and received, after a long legal fight — the 911 tapes following the Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting. For any responsible newsgathering organization, this is a normal step. The checks on government cannot stop just because the subject matter is difficult.
As critical as fighting to protect the First Amendment is the fight to protect our original news content from misappropriation. In a clear and sweeping victory for AP, other media and for the public, a federal court ruled last year that the Internet clipping service Meltwater misappropriated AP content. AP won on nearly every argument made in the case — sending a strong message to those who take AP and other original content without paying for it, and establishing a clear legal precedent. Said the judge in the case: “Investigating and writing about newsworthy events occurring around the globe is an expensive undertaking and enforcement of the copyright laws permits AP to earn the revenue that underwrites that work. Permitting Meltwater to take the fruit of AP’s labor for its own profit, without compensating AP, injures AP’s ability to perform this essential function of democracy.” Meltwater now contracts with AP.
In a play that set the early tone of Super Bowl XLVIII, Denver Broncos running back Knowshon Moreno reaches for the loose ball after a bad snap eluded quarterback Peyton Manning, left, on Feb. 2, 2014, in East Rutherford, N.J. Seattle Seahawks defensive end Cliff Avril approaches at right. The Seahawks won 43-8. AP Photo / Paul Sancya View on apimages.com >
Protesters use a large slingshot to launch a Molotov cocktail at police in central Kiev, Ukraine, Jan. 23, 2014, during demonstrations against then-President Viktor Yanukovych, who had distanced himself from the European Union to align himself with Russia. A wave of violent confrontations in the capital drove Yanukovych from power. AP Photo / Sergei Grits View on apimages.com >
Lupita Nyong’o accepts the Academy Award for best actress in a supporting role for "12 Years a Slave" during the Oscars show at the Dolby Theatre, March 2, 2014, in Los Angeles. Photo by John Shearer / Invision / AP View on apimages.com >
We strengthened another area of great value to AP, its members and the public last year, too: our coverage of state and local news. AP is the only news organization with reporters in every statehouse, and last year we began to build on that unique offering. A key strategic initiative for 2014, we are increasing the number of journalists in our state bureaus and regional desks and putting greater emphasis on state government coverage. We believe these changes will further extend our competitive advantage in the United States.
AP Photo / Marcio Jose SanchezView on apimages.com >
Associated Press photographers had an astounding year in 2013, winning virtually every notable prize, including a Pulitzer for breaking news photography, for their heart-rending and graphic images of the Syrian war. AP photographers also won top prizes for a variety of images in Pictures of the Year International, World Press Photo, China International Press Photo Competition, The White House News Photographers Association and The National Press Photographers Association.
Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel takes questions as he briefs reporters at the Pentagon in Washington, Dec. 19, 2013. As disclosures of disturbing behavior by nuclear missile officers mounted, the issue seized the attention of Hagel, who initially said little in public about a string of setbacks and missteps in the nuclear missile force reported by The Associated Press beginning in May 2013. AP Photo / Charles Dharapak View on apimages.com >
A man photographs the charred remains of trucks used by radical Islamists, on the outskirt of Diabaly, Mali, Jan. 21, 2013. A document left behind by Islamic extremists as they fled northern Mali included tips on how to camouflage cars to avoid drone strikes. The tip sheet, discovered in February by an AP reporter in Timbuktu, showed how al-Qaida’s chapter in North Africa anticipated military intervention shifting from boots on the ground to unmanned planes in the air. AP Photo / Jerome Delay View on apimages.com >
Neighborhood resident Mohamed Alassane sifts through documents left behind at offices of the Ministry of Finance in Timbuktu, Mali, Feb. 6, 2013. A confidential letter found by AP was from al-Qaida leader Abdelmalek Droukdel spelling out the terror network's blueprint for conquering this desert nation. AP Photo / Rukmini Callimachi View on apimages.com >
From revelations of disturbing disarray in the forces that protect the U.S. nuclear arsenal to remarkable insights into the inner workings of al-Qaida, AP reporters broke important exclusive stories of vital relevance last year. Washington National Security Writer Robert Burns’ continual stream of frightening revelations about the highly secretive missile force prompted Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel, citing AP, to demand a full-scale investigation.
Rukmini Callimachi, AP’s West Africa bureau chief, dispelled the myth of al-Qaida as a disorganized terrorist operation when she discovered a tranche of documents that covered everything from strategy to housekeeping items such as chastising a terrorist for not filing his expenses.
North Korean women pass a roadside propaganda sign depicting a North Korean soldier killing a U.S. soldier, in Pyongyang, North Korea, April 10, 2013. The poster reads in Korean: "Life or Death Battle. Merciless Punishment to U.S. Imperialists and Puppet Traitors." AP Photo / David Guttenfelder View on apimages.com >
Dennis Rodman sings Happy Birthday to North Korean leader Kim Jong Un, seated above in the stands, before an exhibition basketball game at an indoor stadium in Pyongyang, North Korea, Jan. 8, 2014. AP Photo / Kim Kwang Hyon View on apimages.com >
North Korea's leader Kim Jong Un, right, is accompanied by Chinese Vice President Li Yuanchao, center, and Ugandan Vice President Edward Kiwanuka Ssekand as they greet spectators during a mass military parade celebrating the 60th anniversary of the Korean War armistice, in Pyongyang, North Korea, July 27, 2013. AP Photo / Wong Maye-E Hyon View on apimages.com >
We extended our global reach in 2013, opening a multiformat bureau in Myanmar, the first Western news organization to do so. It follows on the launch in 2012 of our bureau in Pyongyang, North Korea — both of them opening up to the rest of the world countries long closed to public view and scrutiny. AP’s Pyongyang bureau supplied a continuing string of news breaks, including last year’s bizarre visits by former basketball great Dennis Rodman.
PBS MediaShift named AP Mobile No. 1 in top news apps to watch in 2014, Business Insider named it the best app for keeping up with breaking news, and it won the EPPY award for best mobile app with more than 1 million monthly unique visitors.
Meanwhile, we enjoyed robust growth with our new platforms and offerings. AP Video Hub, the online platform that delivers newsroom-ready video to new markets and customers, expanded to digital market leaders in more than 40 countries, nearly doubling its revenue. AP Video-US continued to grow and now serves more than half of AP U.S. broadcast members. In May, we launched a new portal for AP Images, offering quick search and rapid downloads of AP photos and more than 200 editorial and creative stock photo partners. We’ve added 25,000 new users since its introduction. AP Archive, our repository of digitized video dating back nearly 100 years, grew revenue and market share, fueled by a new digital platform.
AP Mobile added new customers and multiple accolades in 2013. More than a million people downloaded it, bringing the number of downloads since it was introduced in 2008 to 13 million. PBS MediaShift named it No. 1 in the top news apps to watch in 2014, Business Insider named it the best app for keeping up with breaking news, and it won the EPPY award for best mobile app with more than 1 million monthly unique visitors.
A woman mourns over the body of her husband after identifying him by his teeth and covering his head with her conical hat. The man’s body was found with 47 others in a mass grave near Hue, April 11, 1969. The victims were believed killed during the insurgent occupation of Hue as part of the 1968 Tet Offensive. AP Photo / Horst Faas View on apimages.com >
Marines move through a landing zone in South Vietnam, December 1969. AP Photo View on apimages.com >
In October, to mark the 50th anniversary of the escalation of the Vietnam War, we published an extraordinary photographic history of the conflict. AP has the most comprehensive collection of photos from the war — we won six Pulitzers, four of them for photography, for our coverage — but they had never been compiled in a single place before. The result, “Vietnam: The Real War: A Photographic History by The Associated Press,” was a compelling, heartbreaking account of a war that scarred America like no other.
The book reminds us all of the costs of covering conflict — a cost that AP encounters every day. Four of our journalists lost their lives in that war. Today, reporters face even greater dangers to cover war zones. In April of this year, veteran AP photographer Anja Niedringhaus was targeted and killed in Afghanistan, where she was covering the run-up to the presidential election there.