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Lightning-fast coverage by eyewitness Goodman puts AP far ahead on Rushdie attack

Author Salman Rushdie is attended to after he was stabbed onstage before a lecture at the Chautauqua Institution in Chautauqua, N.Y., Aug. 12, 2022. AP journalist Joshua Goodman was in the audience with just a smartphone; his coverage was rushed to AP members and customers. (AP Photo / Joshua Goodman)

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Miami-based AP reporter Josh Goodman, who regularly breaks news from Latin America and the Carribean, was in the audience at the Chautauqua Institution in western New York last Friday — enjoying his vacation — when a man rushed the stage and stabbed Salman Rushdie, the author who has lived under threat of death since 1989.

News might happen in front of any reporter. It’s what Goodman did in the critical moments afterward that cemented the AP’s huge competitive advantage on one of the biggest global news stories of the week, earning Best of the Week — First Winner.

Amid chaos in the hall, Goodman shot smartphone images of people attending to Rushdie as he lay on the stage. In another shot, he captured blood spatters on a couch and wall. Goodman had no computer with him, but he quickly sent photos and dictated details by phone and email to AP’s New York headquarters.

Police say the attack happened at about 10:47 a.m. By 11:06 a.m. the AP had a news alert on the wire. Goodman’s first photos were received by New York photo editor Dan Derella in New York at 10:56; Derella got out AP’s first images in the hands of members and customers 12 minutes later, at 11:08, just 21 minutes after the attack.

Evacuated from the hall, Goodman then turned to interviewing other eyewitnesses on video, recording them on his phone. He also recorded his own first-person account for the AP, asking another eyewitness — a TV journalist also there on a day off — to hold the camera so the shot would look more polished.

Still reporting, he found another eyewitness with video of the attacker being taken off the stage by police; Goodman worked to get written permission for AP to use the footage, and he talked with police officers at the scene. Later in the afternoon, he attended a vigil for Rushdie at the Institution, sending in more photos of people gathered to send the severely wounded writer and free speech advocate their thoughts and prayers.

Goodman also found time to give an interview to AP media writer Dave Bauder,who spun it into a quick sidebar.

Fast-acting colleagues pitched in:
— New York reporter Jennifer Peltz wove the various reports into a compelling account.
— Sports reporter John Wawrow diverted from another assignment to get a state police news conference on video.
— Buffalo’s Carolyn Thompson and Albany’s Mike Hill worked the phones,interviewing witnesses on Zoom and locking down citizen-journalist video permissions.
— New York video journalist Ted Shaffrey set up a heavily used live shot of authorities at the suspect’s New Jersey home; he also interviewed neighbors and transmitted photos.
— In Iran,reporter Nasser Karimi and producer Mehdi Fattahi sought reaction on the street.
— Hillel Italie,New York’s specialist on the the publishing world, worked his longtime connection with Rushdie’s agent.

The teamwork produced wide-ranging coverage,but it was Goodman’s skilled all-formats work in that critical first hour that put the AP so far ahead, no news organization could catch up — other media used AP”s story or or relied on its reporting for their own stories in the initial hours after the attack. The AP was first to the world with news that Rushdie had been attacked and the first news organization to move photos of the scene,including exclusive images of Rushdie being given first aid. Story text,photos and video were among our most-used journalism throughout the weekend.

For extraordinary work across formats by an accomplished and experienced journalist who understood the needs of AP clients and knew how to handle breaking news when it erupted in front of him, Goodman earns AP’s Best of the Week — First Winner.

Visit AP.org to request a trial subscription to AP’s video,photo and text services.

For breaking news, visit apnews.com.

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