Around the globe, when it comes to reporting news that matters, The Associated Press delivers.
In 2015, AP reporting freed slaves in Asia’s fishing industry, exposed crumbling infrastructure across the United States, uncovered disease-causing Brazilian waters in which 2016 Summer Olympians will compete, and told the stories of 200 Mexicans who disappeared at the hands of criminals and the police.
And there was so much more, from reporting on the front lines of terrorist attacks worldwide to accompanying migrants searching for safety and freedom in Europe.
AP’s global reach continues a 170-year legacy of reporting quickly, firsthand and, most importantly, with accuracy. Analyzing data, investigating leads and revealing concealed truths produced a depth of reporting that generated tremendous impact.
AP raised the standard in live video by launching three additional live channels, for a total of four. We now offer a wider range of scheduled live global and regional events on top of breaking news. We also significantly increased video coverage in Europe and the Middle East.
Expanding our shared news desk concept to each of AP’s U.S. regional news hubs reinforced our long-standing commitment to state news coverage. It increased the volume of our domestic news report — producing 1,000 additional stories per month — at the same time freeing other journalists to do more original reporting. A new state government team, focusing on accountability and explanatory reporting across the country, complements our investment in U.S. news coverage.
For this U.S. presidential election year we upgraded our platform for faster election results and rolled out new analytical tools for our race callers.
AP completed 2015 in a strong financial position. Cash profits, or EBITDA, grew for the fourth consecutive year, reaching the highest level since 2008. While revenue declined 3 percent from 2014, driven by a strong U.S. dollar and a lack of major revenue-generating events like U.S. elections or the World Cup in 2014, cash expenses were lower year-over-year. AP ended 2015 with no debt.
Improvements in 2016 will enhance what is already the most comprehensive news report in the world. We will pursue an aggressive news agenda in Asia and increase the number of video stories in Europe. AP will mine big data for richly detailed stories. We will sharpen our expertise in sourcing, vetting and making user-generated content available to customers. AP will deploy more than 200 journalists to Brazil to cover the first Olympic Games ever hosted in South America. And in what is one of the largest journalistic endeavors of its kind, we will send more than 5,000 people out to gather and analyze results from more than 5,000 races during the 2016 U.S. elections season.
Fighting for access around the world, requesting public records and advocating for journalist safety have long been part of AP’s DNA. In 2015, our journalists filed hundreds of requests under both the federal Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) and state open records laws around the country. AP sued the State Department for failure to comply with requests to turn over files and emails related to Hillary Clinton’s tenure as Secretary of State, including a request that had been made five years earlier.
AP General Counsel Karen Kaiser testified before the U.S. Senate Judiciary Committee on behalf of The Sunshine in Government Initiative, a coalition that includes AP. She highlighted our standing as a leading and aggressive advocate of transparency and accountability in government and an informed citizenry. The House and the Senate have since passed the 2016 FOIA Improvement Act, designed to ease access to government records.
Unsealed documents and released records resulted in notable stories the public deserved to know. Security breaches at airports across the U.S. were exposed using data obtained from the Transportation Security Administration and local airports. AP revealed that the opaque military justice system shields child sex abuse cases. Court documents, unsealed after years of relentless AP access litigation, uncovered that Bill Cosby admitted under oath to acquiring drugs to give to women with whom he wanted to have sex. As a result of AP’s unsealing efforts, the public was able to observe dramatic dashboard video footage showing police shooting two unarmed men, which led Gardena, California, officials to pay a settlement of nearly $5 million to families of the victims.
Journalism today is perilous. The safety of journalists and freelancers worldwide continues to be in jeopardy. Killing, abducting and imprisoning reporters threatens the very foundation of independent newsgathering. AP joined a coalition of major news companies, freelance journalism organizations and press freedom advocates to elevate safety guidelines for freelancers and local correspondents. The coalition’s recommendations, A Call for Global Safety Principles and Practices, were released in February 2015.
More than 2,000 slaves are free today because The Associated Press exposed their misery. These men were captives of Thailand’s seafood industry, in some cases for decades. They were forced to catch or process seafood that then made its way into the supply chains of almost every major American food retailer and to dinner tables worldwide.
The extraordinary and innovative reporting by reporters Esther Htusan, Margie Mason, Robin McDowell and Martha Mendoza won the Pulitzer Prize for the AP — our 52nd overall and first in the public service category — and shook the $7 billion-a-year Thai seafood export industry. Twelve men were arrested; eight of them have already been convicted and imprisoned. Ships worth millions of dollars were seized and businesses shut down. The practices we exposed were widely condemned in the U.S. Congress, and President Barack Obama signed legislation closing loopholes that had allowed U.S. imports of fish caught by slaves. The European Union warned Thailand that it risked an import ban if it failed to deal promptly with slavery in the industry. And some of the world’s largest companies have promised reforms affecting thousands of workers.
This remarkable story demonstrates the kind of results that can be achieved through quality investigative reporting across a news organization with a global footprint like AP.
This is journalism at its best: journalism with impact.
President and CEO