Best of AP — Second Winner


AP out front with first word on death of country music queen Loretta Lynn

FILE - Country music great Loretta Lynn poses for a portrait in Nashville, Tenn., in September 2000. Lynn, the Kentucky coal miner’s daughter who became a pillar of country music, died Oct. 4 at her home in Hurricane Mills, Tenn. She was 90. (AP Photo / Christoper Berkey, File)


When Nashville Entertainment video journalist Kristin Hall broke the stunning news of Naomi Judd’s death earlier this year, a representative for Loretta Lynn saw how Hall and AP handled the Judd obituary. Lynn’s rep then reached out to Hall, asking about AP’s obituary process — and shared that Lynn was in poor health.

That early heads-up launched Hall into motion, pulling together text and video prep, and steadily working with editors to refine and polish it.

Word of the singer’s death came Tuesday and Hall was ready working quickly to confirm details and get the news out. The result: AP’s alert moved at 10:23 a.m. EDT followed by a complete 1000-word obituary less than a minute later long before other news outlets and giving the AP a lengthy beat on a high-profile celebrity death.

Hall’s work didn’t stop there. She worked throughout the day with colleagues to get visuals of memorials in both Los Angeles and Nashville. She also worked on a follow-up that she long envisioned as a strong companion piece — a detailed look at Lynn’s “The Pill” and how it had taken on greater resonance after Roe v. Wade was overturned.

Hall put AP well out front. Several trade sites needed 20 minutes or more to post obits and it was nearly an hour before a major music industry publication pushed its own obit to online readers. By then readers were flocking to the obit on AP News as well as on customer and member sites. The New York Times and Hollywood Reporter were among the dozens of outlets crediting AP and when The Washington Post ran the AP obit online — with Hall’s byline — it was the No. 4 most-read on their site. The scoop was immortalized on Wikipedia which cited Hall’s story as confirmation that the woman behind songs such as “You Ain’t Woman Enough” and “Coal Miner’s Daughter ” was indeed dead.

The obituary was AP’s most widely read story of the week and the video the most-used Entertainment video story of the week.

For outstanding sourcing and preparation that allowed AP to lead the pack on a highly competitive story Hall is AP’s Best of the Week — Second Winner.

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