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Teamwork, sourcing put AP ahead on Buffalo mass shooting

People hug outside the scene after a racially motivated mass shooting at a Tops supermarket in Buffalo, N.Y., May 14, 2022, in Buffalo, N.Y. A white 18-year-old killed 10 people and wounded three. All but two of the victims were Black. (AP Photo / Joshua Bessex)

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An AP all-formats team delivered fast, accurate breaking coverage of Saturday’s racist mass shooting at a Buffalo, New York, supermarket, then turned to stories of the victims and a community in mourning.

The initial scanner chatter was vague, but when ever-vigilant federal law enforcement reporter Mike Balsamo saw it, he raised an immediate alarm with colleagues covering New York: a possible active shooter at a Buffalo supermarket. Hartford, Connecticut, newsperson Dave Collins — working a breaking news shift covering two states — wasted no time, immediately dispatching Buffalo reporter Carolyn Thompson to the scene, where she was soon joined by Buffalo sports writer John Wawrow, jumping in from vacation. Thompson was quick with early video from the scene as freelance photographer Joshua Bessex moved photos.

In the chaotic first hours after the shooting,AP avoided the erroneous reporting of other outlets,including false reports that the gunman was dead. East Desk editor Mallika Sen filed a rapid-fire stream of updates while Balsamo and fellow Justice Department reporter Eric Tucker quickly worked their networks of law enforcement sources to confirm the scope of the carnage: 10 people were dead and three wounded at the hands of a white gunman wearing body armor,who had livestreamed the attack. Further,authorities suspected the shooter was driven by racism,targeting predominantly Black shoppers and workers.

AP had the facts out ahead of the official news conference, where authorities confirmed that the gunman had been motivated by racial hatred.

The team on the ground in Buffalo was joined by New York City video journalist Robert Bumsted and Philadelphia photographer Matt Rourke. Together, the all-formats team produced moving stories of the victims and a grieving community, while revealing key details on the investigation of the shooter.

The coverage was AP’s top-performing story of the day,by far, widely used and credited by AP customers and drawing more than 1 million pageviews on AP News.

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