Best of AP — Second Winner


In dramatic search for plane-crash kids, AP was there alone with video


AP had the only international news cameras embedded with the military during the search, and our powerful images from the moment of their return to Bogota and the first comments from the president yielded AP’s most-used story globally during the days after. AP also was able to distribute images of the children getting help in the rainforest immediately after they were found, credited to the Colombia military.  

Moving swiftly for the compelling human-interest story, the AP crew was also the first international team to file photos of the late-night arrival of the children in Bogota, and then pursued the tale of how the children stayed alive and were found in a vast and difficult terrain. 

Andes Correspondent Regina Garcia Cano rushed to Bogota, and thanks to legwork by the local crew, went straight to the hotel where searchers were staying. She managed to interview soldiers who described the moment in which rescuers found the wreckage, but no sign of the children.  

Garcia Cano also doorstepped and interviewed the father of the two youngest children and one member of the Indigenous search team, who narrated vivid details of the mission that had not yet been reported.

She learned that rescuers tracked the children nearly 1,000 miles on foot, finding dirty diapers and half-eaten fruit, but were losing hope on day 39. Searchers then turned to a sacred ritual — drinking hallucinogenic Ayahuasca tea, which they believe activated spirits that allowed them to find the children the very next day. Garcia Cano produced a narrative reconstruction that read like an excerpt from a Gabriel Garcia Marquez story.

Turned around swiftly in tough circumstances in collaboration with the team in Bogota, the exclusive enterprise tale had a 99-engagement score and was picked by dozens of outlets from the U.S. to Taiwan.

Video journalist Marko Alvarez and photographer Fernando Vergara had embedded with the military and the Indigenous rescuers during the search. They, along with freelancers Ivan Valencia and John Wilson Vizcaino, were in Bogota at the time of the rescue. They were able to cover the arrival of the children to the military airport in Colombian capital immediately, and continued staking out at the military for days to pull together all the scenes and gather details.  

For news video, images and an enterprise narrative that was the first and most authoritative on the survival of the children, the team of Garcia Cano, Alvarez, Vergara, Valencia and Wilson Vizcaino earn Best of the Week — Second Winner.

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