2012 AP STAFF RECOGNITION AWARDSThe Chairman’s Prize and Oliver S. Gramling Awards go right to the heart of what AP does. The winners this year span the range of AP's great work, from frontline journalism on every platform and in every format to the dedication of staff who support our mission and desire to better themselves in its cause. They truly reflect AP’s call to serve as the definitive source for news.
2012 CHAIRMAN'S PRIZEThe Chairman’s Prize, created in 2004, honors AP staffers’ creative thinking, performance breakthroughs and entrepreneurial changes that affect the AP and the news industry it serves. The prize is judged by and awarded by the current Chairman and past chairmen of the AP Board of Directors. Learn more about the Video Business Transformation. Read the Oct. 8 press release.
|Video Business Transformation|
The Video Business Transformation initiative, a sweeping overhaul of AP’s video business from newsgathering to distribution, is recognized for setting the strategic direction, reinventing AP’s video business models, and conceiving and building new delivery portals. The cross-departmental team that oversaw and executed the initiative converted AP’s video business to high definition; trained staff to use new equipment and work flows and to tell stories in new ways that responded to market needs; segmented AP’s video customer audience; and developed a platform for on-demand access to AP video. The result has positioned AP to reclaim market leadership in the international video business. The project touched many aspects of AP’s business processes, used a scientific, disciplined project-planning structure and delivered on schedule and within budget. With 10 interdependent work streams and 36 subprojects, literally dozens of people from across the organization were responsible for its success. In the midst of this huge effort, operations continued normally without impact to customers. The Video Business Transformation is a model for how to execute large-scope, important initiatives.
The five staffers chosen to attend the awards ceremony represent the teams involved and the diversity of their contributions. Sue Brooks (top left) helmed the team behind Video Hub, a new video delivery platform for websites and portals, which has generated almost $1 million in incremental revenue since its beta launch in April. Focusing on the development and rollout of the new HD production system, Stefanie Campman (center) worked closely with the Technology team to test new hardware and software. Together with Darren Long (top right), who facilitates day-to-day management of the new Video Hub and AP Archive platforms, Campman analyzed and configured new work flows and user functionality. On the technical side, Mark Harris (bottom right) led the implementation of the new systems, including the rollout of video editing tools, and was a key adviser during the HD upgrade of AP’s file-based distribution and archive systems. And Jerry Harmer (bottom left) ran a series of staff training workshops in London and Bangkok that took a fresh look at how AP conceives, shoots, edits, structures and writes distinctive video stories.
2012 OLIVER S. GRAMLING AWARD WINNERSThe Gramling Awards are an annual company-wide program created in 1994 to honor AP staffers for excellence. Each year, a committee selects nine winners in four categories – journalism, achievement, scholarship and spirit. Learn more about the 2012 Gramling Award winners. Read the Aug. 23 press release.
|Rodrigo Abd - Senior photographer, Guatemala Rodrigo|
Abd won the $10,000 Oliver S. Gramling Journalism Award for using the camera in innovative ways to tell important stories, most notably for his photograph of a young boy inconsolably distraught at his father’s funeral in Syria, which ran on front pages around the world. His work, including portraits he shot using a 19th-century Afghan wood camera, “is a testament to his incredible versatility as a photographer,” said the judges. Abd began his career as a staff photographer in 1999 at La Razón and La Nación newspapers in Buenos Aires, Argentina. Since joining AP in 2003 as a staff photographer, he has been based in Guatemala with the exception of his time in Kabul, Afghanistan, in 2006. Abd has also worked on a number of AP special assignments covering political turmoil in Bolivia and Haiti, as well as Venezuela’s 2007 presidential elections and the Haitian earthquake in 2010. Abd imbedded twice with U.S. troops in Afghanistan’s Kandahar province during 2010 and has since covered the political conflict in Lybia and the Syrian armed conflict.
|Elizabeth Kennedy - Chief of bureau, Beirut|
Elizabeth Kennedy won the $10,000 Oliver S. Gramling Journalism Award for leading AP’s coverage of the Syrian civil war—the bloodiest, most complex and longest uprising of the Arab Spring. Facing limited access and dangerous conditions, Kennedy helped guide AP through tricky journalistic territory, hype, hoaxes and spin with sure news judgment and a healthy dose of skepticism. Since 2009, she has been the Beirut bureau chief, covering political news in Lebanon and Syria and the two countries’ interactions with Israel and the West. Before then, Kennedy was based in Nairobi for nearly four years, the last two as East Africa bureau chief. She directed coverage and reported on Somalia’s civil war and piracy off the country’s coast, in addition to the 2008 election crisis in Kenya and conflicts involving regional military power Ethiopia. Kennedy joined AP in 1999 as an editor in the multimedia department. She later worked in Trenton, N.J., where she covered the 2001 anthrax attacks and Sept. 11 detainees, and worked as an editor on AP’s national and international desks in New York. She has reported from conflict zones in Africa and the Middle East, filing stories from Lebanon, Somalia, Iraq and Afghanistan. Kennedy holds an undergraduate degree in English literature from Barnard College in New York City.
|Fergus Bell - Social media and UGC editor - international, London|
Fergus Bell won the $10,000 Oliver S. Gramling Achievement Award for his pioneering work in the area of user-generated content (UGC). Bell has helped establish AP as a leader in finding, vetting and distributing this content around the globe and navigating its potential pitfalls. A graduate in broadcast journalism from the University of Leeds, he joined AP in 2006 as a news assistant on the news desk in London. Bell later became an assistant producer, producer and senior producer working on AP’s international video output, and has frequently acted as a field producer on U.K. stories. Since social media began to take off in 2010, Bell has been focused on its impact on the news industry. He now leads AP’s UGC and digital newsgathering operation in London and is responsible for identifying UGC when a story breaks so AP can acquire, verify and publish it across formats. Bell also trains and advises AP staff globally in the key areas of UGC acquisition and social media monitoring during news events. He has used social media to aid AP’s newsgathering operations and source UGC for the events of the Arab Spring, the shootings in Norway and the Japanese earthquake.
|Europe Initiative team - (left to right) Susie Blann, EMEA video editor; Joana Mateus, senior video producer; Dave Modrowski, managing editor of bureaus EMEA; Ian Phillips, Eastern Europe news director|
The Europe Initiative team won the $10,000 Oliver S. Gramling Achievement Award for the radical restructuring of video coverage in Europe to meet the demands of AP’s client base in the region. The initiative focused on adding video journalists to previously uncovered locations and increasing AP’s existing footprint. Dave Modrowski budgeted, recruited and equipped a TV news editor to cover Turkey and video journalists for seven new locations—Lisbon, Portugal; Helsinki; Paris; Vienna; Prague; Belgrade, Serbia; and Bucharest, Romania. With this essential structure in place, Ian Phillips took over all formats—text, photos and TV—for Eastern and Central Europe. Together, Phillips and Susie Blann oversaw AP’s video news product refocus, including a video storytelling training program designed to help new and existing video journalists compile stories for a multimedia client base, while making sure newsgathering was both creative and timely. And Joanna Mateus facilitated content delivery in multiple formats to AP’s European video customer base. Overall, the initiative has produced significant new revenue for AP and resulted in major contract renewals.
|Maha Omar EMEA regional accountant, Cairo|
Maha Omar won the $3,000 Oliver S. Gramling Spirit Award for her dedication to AP and its journalists during the Arab Spring, working to provide seamless cash flow, proper government permits, accommodations and transportation even as she faced concerns about her family and her own country. Omar joined AP in 2000 as an accountant in the Cairo office and was promoted to chief accountant in 2005, managing finances and office administration for the Middle East. In 2009, she assumed her current position as EMEA regional accountant. Today, Omar oversees and controls the finances for the region, prepares budgets, schedules expenditures, monitors costs and analyzes budget variances. She also coordinates office operations and procedures to ensure organizational effectiveness and evaluate cost-reduction opportunities. Additionally, she facilitates logistics, including visas, travel arrangements and local government hurdles, for news staff covering stories in her region. Omar is a graduate of the accounting school at Ain Shams University in Cairo.
|Manabu Tajima Technology manager, Tokyo|
Manabu Tajima shares the Oliver S. Gramling Spirit Award with Libin Zhang for surmounting obstacle after obstacle to get AP’s new North Korea bureau in Pyongyang furnished and equipped before its opening. Based in Tokyo, Tajima has been an integral part of Technology since joining AP in April 1988, playing a key role in covering a number of projects and events, including the 1998 Nagano Olympics, the Asian Games and the 2002 World Cup hosted by South Korea and Japan, where he was tasked with managing support at the Media Press Center. In addition to Pyongyang, Tajima has also helped facilitate bureau openings or transfers in Tokyo, Islamabad, Kabul, Afghanistan, and Seoul, South Korea. Born and raised in Saitama Prefecture, just north of Tokyo, Tajima is a graduate of The University of Electro-Communications in Tokyo. He has also completed continuing education courses in technology at AP’s technical center in Cranbury, N.J., London, Hong Kong and Bangkok. He will receive $3,000.
|Libin Zhang Technology manager, Beijing|
Libin Zhang shares the Oliver S. Gramling Spirit Award with Manabu Tajima for their resourcefulness in the herculean feat of building AP’s North Korea bureau in just five weeks. Zhang came on board in 2007 at AP’s Beijing office. Working in one of the most dynamic and challenging cities in the world, he has made a number of key contributions to AP technology operations and assisted numerous clients throughout China with upgrades and migration and infrastructure projects. Zhang was instrumental in opening new bureaus in Beijing, Shanghai and Guangzhou, and has covered special events in China, including the 2008 Beijing Olympics and the 2010 Asian Games. Libin came to AP with more than 10 years of experience in information technology—network support, website design and software development—both in China and Canada. A native of Beijing, Zhang graduated from Nanchang Aeronautical University in China, majoring in electronics engineering. He will receive $3,000.
|Emily Leshner Web producer, Corporate Communications / Marketing, New York|
Emily Leshner won the $3,000 Oliver S. Gramling Scholarship Award to pursue a certificate in Digital Publishing at New York University’s School of Continuing and Professional Studies. The program will give Leshner skills critical to AP, such as how to create, sell and market content on the Web and other digital platforms, allowing her to support the changing needs of other AP departments and the evolving needs our customers. Leshner joined AP in 2010 as the office manager for the Corporate Communications department and was promoted to her current position of Web producer in 2012. During her tenure, Leshner has led the new design and development of Connections, AP’s all-staff newsletter, a quiz on AP style and usage utilized by the standards editors, and several other sections on both InsideAP and ap.org. She regularly prepares and publishes content on behalf of her team and Media Relations, as well as the News, Technology and Finance departments. A native of Italy, Leshner earned bachelor degrees in cultural anthropology and African studies from New York University.
||Alan Clendenning Chief of bureau, Madrid|
Alan Clendenning won the $3,000 Oliver S. Gramling Award to complete a one-year media executive management master’s program at Spain’s University of Navarra to enhance his social media, financial management and decision-making skills. Clendenning joined AP in 1998 as a newsman in New Orleans and moved to New York in 2001, where he covered mergers and acquisitions and led a team of reporters investigating the Sept. 11 attacks. For nearly eight years, he served as bureau chief in Brazil and a Sao Paulo-based business and general news correspondent. In Brazil, Clendenning covered the country’s rapid transformation into an emerging global economic and political giant, the two terms of its first working-class president and spot and enterprise stories from the Amazon to Rio de Janeiro. Since transferring to Spain in 2010, he has led coverage of the bailout in Portugal, Spain’s recession and culture for an international audience. While in Madrid, he has also served as AP’s international terror team leader, working as a conceptual editor with reporters across the globe covering Islamic jihad. Clendenning has a journalism degree from Emerson College in Boston and speaks fluent Spanish and Portuguese.
||Ray Henry Newsperson, Atlanta|
Ray Henry won the $3,000 Oliver S. Gramling Scholarship Award to apply it toward a master’s degree in economics at Georgia State University with an emphasis on public fiscal policy. These skills will enrich coverage of the economy in the South, a key area of importance to AP’s domestic report. He joined AP in 2005 as a reporter in Providence, R.I., where his beats included state government, politics, the collapsing economy and southeastern Massachusetts. He transferred to Atlanta in early 2010 and helped cover the oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico, the ramifications of a nuclear crisis in Japan and presidential candidates Newt Gingrich and Herman Cain. As a reporter covering state government and the nuclear power industry, he now focuses on accountability journalism and is a member of the South Desk investigative team. Henry earned a journalism degree from Boston University in 2003. Before joining AP, Henry covered criminal justice for The Standard-Times in New Bedford, Mass.
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