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A letter from the chairman and ceo

As we write this letter, The Associated Press is covering the biggest story the world has seen in decades: the coronavirus pandemic. It is a story that touches every corner of the globe.

While much of the world remains under orders to stay home, AP journalists continue to report from the field, telling stories of heroism at hospitals, tragedy in tight-knit communities and acts of kindness that are connecting people in this extraordinary time. Beyond the health crisis, staffers are covering the economic fallout of the outbreak and the impact broadly to society. This work has never been more important.

From portraits of health care workers on Italy’s front lines to exclusive reporting on the first test of a coronavirus vaccine in Washington state, AP is harnessing its global footprint to tell stories no one else can. Our journalists haven’t missed a beat. They continue to overcome obstacles to cover this pandemic quickly, accurately and without bias, providing essential analysis and critical context.

In these challenging times, AP is at its best. We will not step back; we will step up.

AP journalists rose to the occasion many times in 2019, advancing the power of facts to keep the world informed and hold the powerful accountable in the face of increasing divisiveness and attempts to deceive.

With more live feeds than ever, we gave people a chance to see first-hand how major breaking news events, like massive protests from Hong Kong to Lebanon to Venezuela, were unfolding across the globe. And through groundbreaking innovations and collaborations, the AP solidified its role as an industry leader and driving force to expand the breadth of global coverage while helping to keep local journalism alive.

From the impeachment of President Donald Trump to the rippling impacts of climate change across the globe, AP’s award-winning news report was as deep as it was wide. We brought to light numerous sexual harassment allegations against one of opera’s most powerful figures, chronicled deadly Easter Sunday bombings in Sri Lanka, broke new ground in the global opioid epidemic, and so much more. 

With an eye toward the 2020 presidential election, AP’s national politics team provided insightful and exclusive coverage of a historic, massive field of Democratic hopefuls. As the race to the White House unfolds, AP is poised to deliver superb coverage across all 50 states and explain intricacies of the campaign and election to the world. AP VoteCast, our pioneering voter survey conducted by NORC at the University of Chicago, continues to take the pulse of the electorate. The poll captures the views of voters — not only who they voted for but why, providing rich texture and context in telling the story of Election Day.

Through collaboration and innovation, AP created a global religion team aimed at providing balanced, nuanced coverage of major world religions and laid plans to bolster our unrivaled 50-state footprint with an influx of over a dozen statehouse reporters. We achieved a milestone in underwater live broadcasting and developed a free toolkit that will make it easier for newsrooms and journalists to collaborate on data-driven journalism.

AP's exclusive journalism

Throughout 2019, we provided deep, rich and distinctive content to unearth untold stories. Our exemplary and exclusive journalism included:

  • Ongoing all-formats reporting on Yemen’s brutal civil war, which was recognized with the 2019 Pulitzer Prize for International reporting last spring. This is dangerous work. At great personal risk, the AP team exposed torture by factions on all sides of the fighting, secret deals between U.S. allies and al-Qaida militants and widespread corruption that diverted international food aid from starving families, pushing the country to the brink of famine.
  • AP’s “The Reckoning” series went beyond the horrific cases of sexual abuse in the Catholic Church to focus on the lack of accountability and responsibility taken by the church and members of the Catholic Church leadership. These stories had impact. Implicated priests were suspended; accused ministry officials were removed from positions.
  • A gripping AP investigation that revealed reports of neglected migrant children at a remote Border Patrol facility in Clint, Texas, sparking uproar and action across the U.S.
  • Dogged AP journalism that uncovered sexual harassment allegations by more than 20 women against Placido Domingo, one of the most celebrated and powerful figures in opera, and led to performance cancellations and his resignation as the general director of the Los Angeles Opera.
  • The visually driven series, “What Can Be Saved?” in which journalists around the world collaborated to examine efforts by ordinary people and scientists who, against enormous odds, are restoring landscapes and species.
  • An extensive AP investigation into the condition of aging dams across the U.S., which was localized and echoed by member news organizations and customers.
  • The documentation of experimental brain implants in China being used to treat opioid addicts.
  • Character-driven stories told through text threads, photos and videos, including a Seattle man’s final days before taking his own life using Washington state’s Death with Dignity act.

Breaking news reporting

The AP has always delivered factual, compelling journalism with speed and accuracy, and 2019 was no exception. Our journalists across the globe covered a wide range of breaking stories in all formats, expanding the lens from spot developments to global impact:

  • The beginning of the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, which was comprehensively and carefully chronicled in all formats by AP journalists on the ground in China and from others across AP.
  • The impeachment of President Donald Trump and the hyperpartisan discord surrounding it, covered not only by AP journalists in Washington, but from across the U.S and other countries, providing depth and context from a global perspective.
  • Fast, dominant and measured coverage of the historic findings in the Mueller report into Russian interference in the 2016 U.S. presidential election.
  • Months of anti-government protests in Hong Kong and unrest across the globe that were captured in rich text reports and compelling visuals by our journalists who at times put themselves at great personal risk to relay developments to the rest of the world.
  • Fast, live coverage of a deadly terror attack at a hotel complex in Nairobi, Kenya. AP was first with live video of the unfolding chaos and quick to gather on-camera interviews with witnesses and photograph police responding and civilians fleeing.
  • The deep divide in Britain over its departure from the European Union, which was met with an all-hands-on-deck response from AP journalists in London and across Europe.
  • Mass shootings across the U.S. and beyond, including at two mosques in Christchurch, New Zealand; a crowded Walmart in El Paso, Texas; outside of a popular bar in Dayton, Ohio; and a municipal building in Virginia Beach, Virginia.
  • Climate change protests around the world, which drove record numbers of live video bookings for AP.
  • Natural disasters, including Hurricane Dorian, which battered the Caribbean islands; wildfires in California that triggered mass evacuations and electric blackouts; and flooding in the midwestern U.S. exacerbated by climate change.
  • A massive fire that engulfed most of the iconic Notre Dame Cathedral in Paris and efforts made by people everywhere to help rebuild.
  • The ongoing immigration crisis at the U.S.-Mexico border, a story AP has kept in the world’s spotlight with important, factual journalism from Miami to Houston to Los Angeles. Of note, AP’s immigration coverage earned the Robert F. Kennedy Journalism Award in the domestic print category and was a Pulitzer Prize finalist for National Reporting.

Innovation, collaboration in news and business

In 2019, AP achieved a milestone in live underwater broadcasting by transmitting live video from 650 feet (200 meters) below the surface of the Indian Ocean without cables.

Chronicling a deep-sea research mission in the Seychelles, the team of AP staffers identified and developed technology needed for live transmission from underwater without cables, installed and tested the system at sea, and delivered live video and agency-exclusive news content from one of the most remote areas of the world. Their work strengthened AP’s position as an industry trailblazer and won several prestigious awards, including the Royal Television Society’s Television Journalism Award for News Technology and the International Broadcasting Convention’s Innovation Award for Content Distribution.

Several other notable examples of innovation and collaboration in 2019 include:

  • The launch of AP’s fifth live channel, allowing customers to choose from more live events to cover for their audiences. The augmentation of the service was accompanied by a redesign of AP’s live offering on Video Hub, our video delivery platform, making it easier for customers to see the live content options.
  • The expansion of our video capabilities to deliver more content more quickly to customers, adding production desks at our regional hubs around the world and significantly increasing the number of journalists who can stream live video from the scene of breaking news.
  • The creation of a new global religion news desk to cover faith issues around the world, working with the Religion News Foundation, Religion News Service and The Conversation. The initiative, funded by an 18-month grant from Lilly Endowment Inc., is one of the largest investments in religion journalism in decades.
  • The debut of AP DataKit, a project management tool that will make it easier for newsrooms and journalists to collaborate on data-driven journalism. Free and available for anyone to use, the toolkit answers a significant need in the data journalism community, allowing journalists to automate important yet laborious tasks.
  • The development of AP StoryShare, a pilot project aimed at increasing local news coverage and fostering collaboration among our member news organizations in New York state. With support from the Google News Initiative, we built an online tool that enables members to share their coverage plans and help them more efficiently cover local news.
  • The commitment to boost AP’s 50-state presence with the addition of 14 statehouse reporters in an unprecedented collaboration with Report for America. The journalists start this year and will provide local newsrooms with essential accountability journalism and state government coverage.
  • The doubling-down on health and science coverage, particularly important and timely as we track the coronavirus pandemic, with support from the Howard Hughes Medical Institute’s Department of Science Education.

During these unprecedented and complex times, we understand the world relies on AP perhaps more than ever before. AP will continue to deliver.

As we have for 175 years, AP will advance the power of fact-based reporting, because we believe a world where more people know what’s happening around them is better equipped to face the challenges we share.

Steven Swartz
Chairman

Gary Pruitt
President and CEO

 

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