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All-formats team chronicles a pivotal 24 hours in ‘The Fight for New York’

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On a day when the coronavirus death toll in New York City crossed a grim threshold, a team of AP journalists fanned out to tell the story of the pandemic through the experiences of average New Yorkers.

From the bodega owner whose remaining customers are often funeral home workers, to a 29-year-old paramedic worried about the way the onslaught of cases was eating away at him and other first responders,the stories provided a vivid account of a city bent,but not broken,by the virus. The result was a testament to the AP at its finest: smart planning and collaboration leading to impactful stories,videos and photos,all delivered to customers with remarkable speed. Less than 60 hours after the last interviews, “The Fight for New York” package was out: 11 text and video stories, more than two dozen photos and nine social edits.

Careful planning went into how to safely pull the package off,starting with journalists suggesting good profile subjects. Then,on April 6,video journalist Robert Bumsted raced between pre-dawn interviews, from a Meals on Wheels worker scrambling to provide food to elderly clients, to the concierge of a luxury building who leaves his family in Staten Island,traveling deserted streets to get to work.

Video colleagues David Martin,Ted Shaffrey and Marshall Ritzel aimed their cameras on subjects in other parts of the city,while photographer Seth Wenig spent hours in Times Square on a time lapse that drove the desolation home. Fellow photographers John Minchillo,Matt Rourke, Bebeto Matthews and Mary Altaffer made portraits of their subjects from a safe distance.

Text reporters Deepti Hajela,Jennifer Peltz,Jake Seiner,Brian Mahoney,David Porter and David Crary conducted interviews,feeding material to national writer Adam Geller,then turned to producing 10 mini-profiles of their subjects. Working with editor Jerry Schwartz, Geller took the mountain of reporting and wove it into a vivid 3,000 word portrait of New York on the day when the virus’s death toll surpassed that of the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks.

The field reporting was supported by journalists throughout the company devoted to giving “The Fight for New York” the best presentation and promotion possible. Luke Sheridan and the video team furiously cut video,producing cohesive edits from a combination of staff-shot footage, Zoom interviews and user-generated content. Darrell Allen edited social videos and Chris Hulme distilled the footage into an online edit.

Alyssa Goodman handled images for the 11-story package while Raghu Vadarevu and the enterprise team,including Dario Lopez and Natalie Castañeda, worked on its presentation. Jaime Holguin produced a coronavirus podcast to coincide with the project’s release and Alina Hartounian crafted a social media plan that both previewed the package and kept it alive throughout the day. Sara Gillesby, David Caruso and Howie Rumberg coordinated the project from its earliest stages through publication.

The resulting package immediately resonated with readers,viewers and customers. CNN and Fox promoted it and “The Fight for New York” won play on the websites of most major news organizations. The Los Angeles Times used elements,giving it their own presentation. The videos were used more than 900 times,led by the main newsroom edit that weaved the stories together.

For extraordinary teamwork,planning and execution, the team of journalists behind “The Fight for New York” wins AP’s Best of the Week award.

For AP’s complete coverage of the coronavirus:

AP’s hub for comprehensive all-formats coverage of the virus outbreak.

Understanding the Outbreak: stories explaining the new coronavirus.

One Good Thing: daily stories of hope and humanity amid the crisis.

Ground Game: Inside the Outbreak: AP’s podcast series.

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