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Team coverage of Pittsburgh synagogue shooter sentencing produces heartfelt coverage

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In more than 30 stories dating to early May, AP journalists covered all aspects of the trial of Robert Bowers for killing 11 people inside a Pittsburgh synagogue building in 2018.

The work culminated in all-formats reporting of the Aug. 2 sentencing jury verdict that was nimble, accurate, compassionate and comprehensive. The story was a particular challenge because of strict rules for journalists inside Pittsburgh’s federal court building, and there had been minimal public comment by prosecutors and defense attorneys.

The Religion Team’s Peter Smith, part of a team at the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette that shared a Pulitzer Prize for coverage of the attack four years ago, worked closely with reporter Mike Rubinkam during the entire trial, a seamless partnership that produced timely updates over many weeks. Desk editor Andrea Thomas, who sent several speedy news alerts, adopted the story as her own, making many solid contributions in polishing the text and on bigger-picture issues about additional reporting needs and the focus of each story.

Also pitching in were Jessie Wardarski, Jeff McMillan, Gene Puskar, Michael Tarm, freelance photographer Rebecca Droke and freelance sketch artist David Klug. A special shoutout to Kantele Franko: Prior to her medical leave, she organized coverage plans, drawing in Religion Team editors David Crary and Holly Meyer to help with what became a lengthy trial process; later Mark Scolforo deftly took on coverage coordination.

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