Best of the Week

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Two AP exclusives: China’s forced labor and US detention of migrant youths

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Welcome to the first Best of the Week of 2019. Among a series of very strong end-of-the-year nominations, the judges have selected two winners from opposite sides of the world.

A sweeping AP investigation by California-based investigative reporters Garance “Poppy” Burke and Martha Mendoza found that the United States is once again institutionalizing thousands of migrant children in crowded shelters, despite warnings that the experience could lead to lifelong trauma. Their national story,based on deep source reporting,was the first to provide shelter-by-shelter detention statistics, numbers the government had been withholding all year.

A comprehensive data package by Washington-based data editor Meghan Hoyer and NY-based data journalist Larry Fenn was downloaded by over 60 clients,and also led to companion stories focusing on data in New York,Connecticut,Massachusetts,Arizona and Texas that were also widely used. AP also made the raw numbers available to members ahead of publication, allowing others to pursue their own angles.

The main story and an abridged version were each used by well over 200 customers,including the New York Times and Washington Post,with 19,000 Facebook engagements and more than 50,000 views. One day after the story,Democratic lawmakers introduced legislation aimed at shutting down two mass facilities holding more than 4,000 minors in Texas and Florida.

For their investigation,Burke,Mendoza, Hoyer and Fenn share half of this week’s award.

Our other winner comes from an equally impactful AP investigation by Beijing-based video journalist Dake Kang,newsperson Yanan Wang and Mendoza,again,which showed that clothing made inside an internment camp housing Muslim Uighurs in China’s Xinjiang region is being shipped to a US company that supplies sportswear to American schools and universities.

To do this,they cross-referenced satellite imagery,Chinese state media reports and the address of a Chinese supplier on bills of lading destined for Badger Sportswear in North Carolina. Faced with the evidence, the chairman of the Chinese supplier acknowledged to AP the existence of a factory inside the camp. Wang and photographer Han Guan Ng shot footage of the compound from outside and were briefly detained by police in the process. Kang then traveled to Kazakhstan to get multiple on-camera accounts of forced labor in the Chinese camps.

The story had immediate impact,with Badger Sportswear pledging to suspend shipments from the factory,and U.S. Customs vowing to investigate. In Indonesia,the foreign minister called in the Chinese ambassador to discuss the issue.

For their daring and important work,Kang, Wang and Mendoza share the other half of AP’s Best of the Week.

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