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Coordinated effort delivers strong, quick all-formats coverage of migrant caravan

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From the moment a caravan of Central American migrants set out from Honduras and crossed through Guatemala toward a series of standoffs with Mexican authorities on Jan. 20, the AP was there, documenting every step of the way. Knowing that Mexican authorities were determined not to let the migrants pass, editors deployed cross-format teams to cover the caravan from both the Guatemalan and the Mexican sides of the border. That effort put the AP far ahead of the competition on the day the situation came to a head.

When the migrants went to the Suchiate River to cross toward Mexico, text reporters were able to shoot compelling live video via Bambuser, the live-streaming technology, to supplement live content produced by video stringers. Photographers quickly filed images, while AP’s video journalists also worked the story.

Having the teams already in place was key to the success of the coverage,said Matt Chandler,news director for Latin America and the Caribbean,in an email. “The staff from the three formats worked very,very closely together. Video staff contributing to the text report; text staff doing live Bambuser at critical moments. Video,text and photos all communicating well. Everyone worked incredibly long days in the field, getting up with the migrants each morning at 4 or 5 a.m.”

Far from the action, desk staffers moved quickly to send the material to the clients. Among the highlights:

– Mexico City reporter María Verza was there when Mexican officials sealed off a border bridge and put down the efforts of hundreds to push their way through the gates. Later, she and AP video stringer Diego Delgado each went live with dramatic video as migrants tried to ford the Suchiate River into Mexico. Guatemala stringer photographer Santiago Billy captured aerial photos of the river crossing and chaotic scenes as migrants faced authorities on the Mexican shore.

– AP Guatemala correspondent Sonia Pérez D. witnessed Guatemalan police sweeping up most of a group of 300 people and busing them back to Honduras.

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A Mexican National Guard detains a Central American migrant after he crossed the Suchiate River with a group of migrants from Guatemala into Mexico near Ciudad Hidalgo, Mexico, Jan. 20, 2020. – AP Photo / Marco Ugarte

– Guatemala photographer Moisés Castillo was in Tecun Uman when Honduras migrants gave up on their dream and started boarding buses to go back to their country. On the Mexican side,photographer Marco Ugarte captured each moment of the drama that migrants were facing – he shot one of the photos that was published all around the world: a national guard holding a migrant by the neck.

– Mexico City reporter Peter Orsi and video stringer Marcelo Viaño saw guardsmen banging riot shields with batons, advancing on hundreds of remaining migrants and definitively breaking up the last members of the caravan who had made it into Mexico.

The text and video were among our top stories of the day for member use on Jan. 22 and video was among the most used.

For getting to the story early and then collaborating closely to produce dominant images and stories of the latest chapter in the migrant saga from Central America,Castillo,Verza,Viano,Delgado,Perez D.,Ugarte, Orsi and Billy share AP’s Best of the Week honors.

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