local or global:
news that matters
local or global:
news that matters
The Associated Press provides coverage of significant news for newspapers, broadcasters and digital customers around the world. From the Idaho prison system to the deserts of North Africa, AP breaks and covers news for those who most value accurate and independent reporting, no matter the format or platform. In 2013, that coverage ranged from revealing the secret, inner workings of al-Qaida to exposing egregious prison mismanagement in the United States. Here’s a look at some of our top exclusive news from last year.
AP Photo / Kevin FrayerView on apimages.com >
President Barack Obama and former U.S. Sen. Chuck Hagel, R-Neb., pass each other during a news conference in the East Room of the White House to announce the nomination of Hagel as the new defense secretary, Jan. 7, 2013. AP Photo / Carolyn Kaster View on apimages.com >
A mockup of a Minuteman 3 nuclear missile stands ready for training by missile maintenance crews at Francis E. Warren Air Force Base near Cheyenne, Wyo., Jan. 9, 2014. AP Photo / Robert Burns View on apimages.com >
Air Force Chief of Staff Gen. Mark Welsh talks to a reporter in his office at the Pentagon, Nov. 20, 2013. AP Photo / Carolyn Kaster View on apimages.com >
AP National Security Writer Robert Burns delivered a continual series of breaking stories detailing frightening problems with America’s highly secretive nuclear missile forces. One after another, he revealed safety violations, serious lapses, discipline issues and other problems across the unit that secures, maintains and would launch America’s nuclear missiles. So startling were the revelations that Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel summoned top military leaders to Washington and ordered a militarywide investigation of the program. AP’s coverage “made an impact on his thinking,” Hagel’s spokesman said. “There’s no question about that.”
Among Burns’ revelations: 17 launch officers had been removed from the Minot, N.D., missile wing due to poor performance and bad attitudes; a missile base in Montana had failed a key security test; at least twice in 2013, officers in an ICBM launch control center opened the blast door (designed to shield them during an actual nuclear attack and to keep out intruders in peacetime) while one of them was napping; and that nuclear missile unit members have a higher rate of burnout, sexual assault and domestic violence than their counterparts elsewhere in the Air Force.
Burns’ reporting had other significant ramifications, too. The officer in charge of missile security at the Montana base was removed. Air Force generals were called before Congress to explain themselves. And the Air Force fired the general who oversees the entire nuclear missile force — not because of trouble in his ranks but because of his own shenanigans, which investigators later described as excessive drinking and embarrassing behavior at an official meeting in Russia.
Al-Qaida is the best-known and most-feared face of terrorism in our times, yet an image persists of it as a disorganized, loosely linked group on the wane. Last year, West Africa Bureau Chief Rukmini Callimachi helped put that view to rest. In Timbuktu, Mali, in early 2013, she made an extraordinary discovery: one of the largest troves of internal documents from al-Qaida ever found and made public.
Callimachi was one of the first reporters to arrive in Timbuktu after French forces drove out al-Qaida fighters last year, taking a 13-hour desert route, chased by extremists for 20 minutes at one point along the way and risking kidnapping in territory where al-Qaida fighters had been just days earlier.
There, she found thousands of pages of documents abandoned in buildings formerly occupied by the terrorists as they fled. After painstakingly sifting through the pages and authenticating them, Callimachi made the papers available online in Arabic and English.
Her discovery and reporting have contributed invaluably to understanding today’s al-Qaida. Included in the papers, for example, was one of the few known letters between al-Qaida commanders, laying out the terror group's strategy for the entire region. In another, a terrorist is chided for not filing his expenses. Politicians, scholars and other officials lauded the finding as among the most illuminating on the inner workings of al-Qaida.
Callimachi’s discovery and reporting have contributed invaluably to understanding today’s al-Qaida.
Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius discusses the Health Insurance Marketplace at the Community Health and Social Services Center in Detroit, Nov. 15, 2013. AP Photo / Paul Sancya View on apimages.com >
A page from the HealthCare.gov website, photographed in Washington, Nov. 29, 2013. Although negative perceptions of the health care rollout had eased, an Associated Press-GfK poll in November found that two-thirds of Americans said the insurance program wasn’t working well. AP Photo / Jon Elswick View on apimages.com >
President Barack Obama, standing with supporters of his health care law, speaks in the Rose Garden of the White House, Oct. 21, 2013, addressing the rollout of the health care overhaul. Obama acknowledged that the widespread problems with the law's implementation were unacceptable, as the administration scrambled to fix the cascade of computer issues. AP Photo / Charles Dharapak View on apimages.com >
With the rollout of health care reform last year, AP helped members navigate the complicated story locally while also leading coverage of it nationally.
Reporter Ricardo Alonso-Zaldivar was the first to identify and expose many potential problems with the new health care system, including the daunting application form. After his story came out, the government released a new, shorter form. He also broke news on the insurance disparity from one state to another that would result in the exclusions of many people; canceled insurance policies; potentially huge copayments for medicines for those with chronic conditions like cancer and multiple sclerosis; and penalties that might make insurance unaffordable for smokers. In October, Alonso-Zaldivar was first to identify the lack of a “window-shopping” feature in the new website that forced visitors to the site to create accounts before being able to explore their options.
Simultaneously, we made sure our coverage was what members needed most — the nuts and bolts of the health care system as it affected Americans. Among other efforts, we hosted a Definitive Source webinar for members that broke down the upcoming events in a way that would help local journalists better cover the story.
AP has a long and deep history in Myanmar, dating to before World War II, when the country was known as Burma. During decades of oppressive junta rule, AP correspondent Sein Win, who died in 2013, and beginning in 1989, his daughter and successor, Aye Aye Win, filed from desks in their homes in Yangon — risking, and sometimes enduring, imprisonment for their work.
In early 2013, as Myanmar opened to the rest of the world, we became the first Western news agency with a bureau inside the country. Win and her Myanmar colleagues were joined by writers, photographers and video journalists from the United States, Spain and Sri Lanka to report on the nation’s conflicts and problems as it emerged from under brutal dictatorship. Despite the democratization of the country, they endured obfuscation and constant surveillance to deliver a continuing string of important stories:
The opening of a formal Myanmar bureau follows on the heels of AP establishing the first Western news bureau in North Korea in January 2012. Our Pyongyang bureau sheds light on the most closed and oppressive government in the world. AP’s journalists have been given rare access to report on the life of North Korea while our permanent presence has also meant we are the only ones to report on exclusive moments such as former basketball great Dennis Rodman’s bizarre visits to the country.