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‘What Can Be Saved?’: Global series explores heroic efforts to revive ecosystems

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The brief for the project was anything but simple: find a way to cover climate change’s effects on the planet in a way that avoided turning the audience off with a gloom-and-doom or heavily text-centric approach.

The result was “What Can Be Saved?”,a sprawling environmental series that expanded the boundaries of AP’s visual storytelling. The series traveled to 10 countries on five continents,focusing on everything from attempts to bring back Jamaica’s coral reefs,to the conservation of lions and gorillas in Africa,to China’s ambitious plans to build a national park system, to a trip down one of Europe’s last wild rivers.

It was the work of 33 journalists,15 editors and four translators throughout AP’s global newsroom,reaching millions of people across all formats – and not just because Leonardo DiCaprio touted some of the installments on Instagram and Twitter. The series was able to leverage grant money to fund improvements in AP’s platform that will serve all our best journalism going forward,including the ability to display full-bleed photos and looped videos. It also reached audiences in new ways, with a highlight in audience engagement being the performance of the mini-documentaries and other online videos.

Through Dec. 3,the videos had been watched 1.3 million times,with about 970,000 of those views coming from people watching on their TVs. Those users spent about 7.6 million minutes watching the mini-movies, an average of nearly 8 minutes per user. (Users watching through game consoles also averaged about 8 minutes.)

In terms of broadcast video,tracking shows the videos airing more than 765 times. On AP News,the stories had almost 400,000 combined pageviews,led by more than 70,000 pageviews for the opening story on coral renewal. The stories on gorillas,lions,glaciers,wetlands,rivers and China’s “Yellowstone” each had more than 30,000 pageviews each – about 30% higher than our average for all global enterprise over the same period.

“What Can Be Saved?” showcased AP’s enhanced storytelling capabilities with vibrant stories and absolutely stunning visuals.

While there are too many individuals who contributed to “What Can Be Saved?” to name them all, editors behind this project deserve special accolades. They moved mountains to make the series such a success.

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A great blue heron lands in a tree at Everglades National Park, Oct. 21, 2019. – AP Photo / Robert F. Bukaty

They include senior editor-at-large Kristin Gazlay; Health and Science editors Jon Fahey,Alicia Chang and Jon Poet; global enterprise video editor Jeannie Ohm,deputy director of photography for global enterprise Enric Marti,global photo enterprise photographer Maye-E Wong,global enterprise editor for digital storytelling Raghu Vadarevu,director of original programming Jaime Holguin and director of digital innovation Ted Anthony. Editor-at-large Jerry Schwartz edited many of the stories.

For ambitious storytelling and compelling display on a subject of global significance, the extended team behind the “What Can Be Saved?” series wins AP’s Best of the Week award. This week’s cash award will be donated to AP’s Employee Relief Fund.

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