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Chauvin trial verdict, a Tigray refugee family: Diverse coverage exemplifies AP at its best

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From major breaking news in the U.S. to unmatched international enterprise reporting, AP proves why, 175 years in, it remains an indispensable new source:

First, AP’s teamwork delivered unmatched breaking and explanatory cross-format coverage of a trial that framed the conversation on race and policing; then, a trio of AP journalists produced a riveting package on a Tigray father’s harrowing journey with his newborn twins, a stark illustration of the devastating war in the Tigray region of Ethiopia.

All-formats coverage from the courthouse in Minneapolis and beyond captured the reaction to a case that had triggered a reckoning on race and policing. Preparation for the verdict in the trial of former police Officer Derek Chauvin stretched back months, before the beginning of jury selection on March 9. The core Minnesota team covering the trial had prepared for that in coordination with colleagues on AP’s law enforcement and race and ethnicity beat teams, among others in the AP.

Reporters Amy Forliti and Steve Karnowski, a member of the print pool, and news editor Doug Glass watched the court proceedings virtually gavel to gavel, ensuring we mastered the facts of the case and were quick to identify patterns and subjects for enterprise coverage. Mohamed Ibrahim reported from outside the trial along with Tim Sullivan, with photographer Jim Mone capturing the scene outside the courthouse and across Minneapolis.

AP staffers in the Midwest and beyond contributed to the coverage during the weekslong trial,providing deep, cross-format enterprise pieces that included dozens of explainers,and as the verdict approached,a team of more than 10 multiformat journalists parachuted into Minneapolis to help cover reaction. We also experimented to make sure we were aware of trending topics and that our headlines were maximized to turn up on search.

AP provided multiple live feeds from Minneapolis — inside and outside the courtroom — as well as elsewhere in the U.S.,with more than 200 customers accessing the feeds. In addition,the AP filed about 40 video edits on the day of the verdict — about double what a major competitor offered — and we were faster getting those edits to customers. The week of the verdict, four of the top five customer downloads were from the trial. AP’s mainbar on the day of the verdict had almost four times the downloads of a typical top story. That story was also the most-read spot news story of the week on AP News,with more than 750,000 pageviews.

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Tigrayan refugee Abraha Kinfe Gebremariam, 40, holds his 4-month-old twin daughters Aden, left, and Turfu, inside the family’s shelter in Hamdayet, eastern Sudan, near the border with Ethiopia, March 23, 2021. Even as Tigrayans fleeing ethnic violence ran for their lives or jostled for space on a boat to safety, the sight of the tall, silent, sorrowful man carrying the tiny twin girls made people pause. – AP Photo / Nariman El-Mofty

Far removed from Minneapolis,in the Tigray region of Ethiopia,the AP has led coverage of an ongoing campaign of ethnic cleansing. Last week,East Africa correspondent Cara Anna, Cairo-based photographer Nariman El-Mofty and freelance video journalist Mohaned Awad added to that body of work with a stunning narrative told hauntingly in all formats about the father of newborn twins who fled Ethiopia to Sudan with the infant girls after his wife died from complications of giving birth. As the story so searingly captured it: “Amid the heartbreak,the sight of a tall,silent man carrying a grimy pink bassinet slung around his neck with tiny twin girls would still bring out the kindness of strangers, even from the ethnicity targeting them.”

The AP crew met the family the evening they arrived at a refugee camp in Sudan,and El-Mofty knew she had to make photos of them. Their story,produced under difficult circumstances,was so compelling that Anna relayed the information to an editor,then went back to spend hours with the family,gathering all the details necessary for a full narrative. The package,beautifully presented by Natalie Castañeda, recreated the family’s journey and built in enough suspense that readers were left wondering what would happen to them.

The story stood out for finding a streak of hope and common humanity in the middle of death and devastation. It ended on an incredibly poignant note: Eventually,one of the girls was named Aden,or “paradise.” The other,who reminded people of her mother,was named Turfu,or “left behind.”

For powerful journalism that defines the range and depth of AP’s global work,both the team covering the landmark Derek Chauvin trial,and the trio of Anna,El-Mofty and Awad,telling the arresting story of a Tigray family, share AP’s Best of the Week honors.

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