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AP announces winners of 2019 Oliver S. Gramling Awards and Chairman’s Prize

the staff recognition awards dinner in New York, Oct. 22, 2019. (AP Photo/Stuart Ramson)

2019 Staff Recognition Awards

Journalists and staffers based in Brazil, China, Sweden, Taiwan and Washington are among the winners of the 2019 Oliver S. Gramling Awards and Chairman’s Prize, the highest internal honors of The Associated Press.

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Gramling Award and Chairman’s Prize winners pose with AP President and CEO Gary Pruitt in New York, Oct. 22, 2019. From left: senior producer Johnson Lai, GMS business development manager Toby Goode, production director Stephen Barker, reporter Calvin Woodward, senior producer Yesica Fisch, video journalist Dake Kang, video journalist David Keyton, Pruitt, data editor Meghan Hoyer, reporter Yanan Wang, data science and news applications editor Troy Thibodeaux, director of text and multimedia products Ken Romano, technology manager Peter Watson, and office manager Jee-won Jeong. (AP Photo/Stuart Ramson)

Created in 1994 to recognize AP staffers for professional excellence, the Gramlings are decided each year by a panel of judges from across the news cooperative. The $10,000 awards come from a fund established by the estate of the late AP broadcast executive Oliver S. Gramling.

The judges this year evaluated submissions in four categories: journalism, achievement and spirit, and a Chairman’s Prize. 

The Chairman’s Prize, created in 2004, is an honor bestowed by the not-for-profit cooperative for a transformational offering that benefits AP and the news industry it serves.

“All of our winners embody talent, ambition and teamwork,” said AP President and CEO Gary Pruitt. “Each of them strives to make AP better for our colleagues, our customers and our mission. They truly represent the best of AP.”

Here are the 2019 winners:

$10,000 Oliver S. Gramling Journalism Awards:

  • ‘China Clamps Down’ reporting team, Beijing

Video journalist Dake Kang, chief photographer Han Guan Ng and reporter Yanan Wang overcame extremely challenging reporting conditions and demonstrated great resourcefulness to illuminate the harsh repression of Uighurs and other Muslim minorities in China’s Xinjiang region. Tasked with telling tough-to-cover stories that authorities did not want told, the journalists were relentless in their pursuit of the truth, staying a step ahead of the competition to deliver stories and images that set AP apart on one of the major international stories of the year.

  • Calvin Woodward, reporter, Washington

Woodward has been holding the powerful to account in the form of AP Fact Checks long before fact-checking became a staple of newsrooms across the globe. He is the industry’s best arbiter of truth and spin in American politics, amassing thousands of fact check items over the past two decades, which often rank among AP’s most engaged stories and as a resource for colleagues across the news cooperative. Woodward demands the truth from Democrats and Republicans, presidents and presidential hopefuls, congressional lawmakers and state officials. In an era when facts are increasingly being called into question, his pioneering fact-checking chops are more vital than ever.

$10,000 Oliver S. Gramling Achievement Awards:

  • Indian Ocean dive team

Together, Stephen Barker, production director, London; Toby Goode, GMS business development manager, London; Jerry Harmer, video editor, Bangkok; David Keyton, video journalist, Stockholm; and Peter Watson, technology manager, London, achieved a milestone in live underwater broadcasting: transmitting live video 650 feet below the surface of the Indian Ocean without cables. Chronicling a deep-sea research mission in the Seychelles, the team 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 delivered exclusive content, added value for customers and strengthened AP’s position as an industry trailblazer.

  • Johnson Lai, senior producer, Taipei, Taiwan

Lai is a valued member of the news team who doubles as an essential asset for sales colleagues — and customers. A video journalist by training, Lai routinely goes beyond his core duties as a senior producer to singlehandedly strengthen AP’s position in Taiwan. Not only does he dive into coverage assignments, operating as a one-man-band providing video, photos and reporting threads for text, he also is a beacon for AP customers. Through Lai’s outreach and communication, Lai anticipates their needs before they can ask and understands what AP needs to cover. His dedication, personal achievements and resourcefulness have helped AP achieve its wider company goals.

$10,000 Oliver S. Gramling Spirit Awards:

  • Yesica Fisch, senior producer, Rio de Janeiro  

Fisch’s contributions have made AP stand out in Latin America. She has tirelessly chased the story on multiple continents to keep AP ahead, and worked in hotspots like Gaza and Iraq – sometimes as a shooter, sometimes as a coordinator and producer. A skilled camera operator and all-around visual journalist, colleagues say her work – from covering the Rio Olympics to the World Cup to the migrant caravan — is so good that it transforms the coverage. Fisch consistently surpasses customer expectations and is the consummate team player. She continually works hard for her AP colleagues, sharing her expertise and motivational skills.

  • Jee-won Jeong, office manager, Seoul, South Korea 

Jeong juggles a myriad of tasks from her base in South Korea while keeping AP’s newsgathering mission afloat. She has managed everything from complicated office moves and handling accounting across multiple countries, to taxes, banking and payroll, to stocking the cupboards and maintaining emergency gear. A dedicated, enthusiastic colleague who consistently demonstrates the true spirit of teamwork, Jeong carries a huge load with positivity, grace and skill. Without her professionalism and dedication, AP bureau chiefs and staffers across the Koreas would have less time to focus on the news.

$10,000 Chairman’s Prize

  • AP Data Team

The AP Data Team is attacking the local news crisis head on by creating distinctive local accountability journalism with real impact. From measuring the effects of partisan gerrymandering to reporting the first full accounting of the death toll from Hurricane Maria, the team compiles, vets and distributes data that enables customers to localize national stories and tell unique local stories better. When paired with AP’s state- and national-level reporting, the data provided by this team provides a rich, multilayered look at topics that are essential and newsworthy. The team’s work meets a clear need of AP’s member news organizations and customers and ensures AP remains indispensable to the cooperative. The staffers representing the AP Data Team are: Meghan Hoyer, data editor, Washington; Kenneth Romano, director of text and multimedia products, New York; and Troy Thibodeaux, data science and news applications editor, New Orleans.

Get to know the winners:

About AP

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Patrick Maks
Senior Communications Associate
The Associated Press

Lauren Easton
Director of Media Relations
The Associated Press

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