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Sourcework pays off with scoop on Julian Castro presidential bid

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“You don’t have his reach!”

Potential presidential candidate Julian Castro, on why AP’s Paul Weber would get the story

Getting a source to give AP a major scoop over competitors can take weeks or months of building credibility and trust. Sometimes that payoff takes years – as Austin, Texas, newsman Paul Weber discovered while breaking the news that former Obama Cabinet member Julian Castro was becoming the first Democrat in the 2020 field to launch an exploratory committee for president.

Weber’s relationship with Castro goes back nearly a decade. Weber moved to AP’s San Antonio bureau in 2009, around the time that Castro was starting his first term as mayor of the nation’s seventh-largest city. Recognizing that Castro was being groomed by Democrats for bigger things, Weber covered the 34-year-old mayor as a national political figure, including regular source meetings and face time with his family.

When Castro returned to Texas after two years as the nation’s housing secretary,Weber ran into him,stumping for other Democrats on the 2018 campaign trail. Months later Weber received a call from the number he had plugged into his phone eight years earlier: It was Castro calling to say he was “likely” to run for president.

That AP had a leg up on any announcement became clear in November. A reporter joked during a press gaggle that his outlet should break the story of Castro’s planned run. Castro responded by pointing to Weber and saying, “You don’t have his reach!”

The APNewsBreak immediately trended as a top story on social media. The scoop put AP hours ahead of major competitors,including The New York Times,which cited AP and quoted from Weber’s exclusive sit-down interview that included AP photos by Eric Gay and a video package by videojournalist John Mone.

Five days after publication,the story had attracted about 23,300 social media interactions. That includes about 5,100 interactions on a San Antonio television station’s Facebook feed and another 5,000 directly from apnews.com.

For exceptional source-development and negotiating an all-formats AP exclusive, Weber wins this week’s Best of the States.

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