Best of AP — Honorable Mention


Character-driven coverage reveals unhealed wounds of Beirut blast

During an interview at her home in Antelias, Lebanon, July 12, 2021, Chouchan Yeghiyan weeps in front of a picture of her daughter, nurse Jessica Bezdjian, who was killed in last year’s massive blast at Beirut’s seaport. Bezidjian was one of four female nurses who died at the Saint George Hospital University Medical Center that day, including a close friend who was killed instantly. (AP Photo / Bilal Hussein)


AP’s Beirut team produced a sweeping set of stories to mark the first anniversary of the massive Beirut port explosion, with the emphasis on character-driven pieces that underscore the suffering experienced by survivors of the blast and families of the victims, one year later.

With that in mind, reporter Bassem Mroue, senior producer Fay Abuelgasim and photographer Bilal Hussein told the tragic tale of a 21-year-old nurse who died at work, weaving her story together with that of a couple whose son was born minutes later in the same hospital amid the chaos of the blast. The result was a stunning all-formats narrative embedded with dramatic family video and hospital-supplied footage from the day of the blast. The Beirut crew worked closely with digital storytelling producers and editors Raghuram Vadarevu and Natalie Castañeda. AP’s online video,created by deputy regional news director Balint Szlanko, was heavily used and widely shared on social media.

Meanwhile, Sarah El Deeb reported — with photos by Hassan Ammar — on grieving families seeking justice and accountability for their deceased loved ones; she also collaborated with news director Zeina Karam on the anniversary mainbar which was accompanied by compelling photos and video by Abuelgasim and cameraman Fadi Tawil. El Deeb and Abuelgasim also teamed up with photographer Hussein Malla for an absorbing piece on conservators painstakingly rebuilding and restoring a landmark Beirut museum.
In the days surrounding the actual anniversary,the staff shifted its coverage to breaking news as masses of protesters took to the streets, some clashing with police as they demanded that officials be held responsible for corruption and indifference leading to the tragedy.

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