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Team shines with story on Native American girl’s journey to become first female on Professional Bull Riders tour

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The package was a team effort with unmatched access to bull rider Najiah Knight, who is Paiute, and her family that featured engaging video, powerful photos, audio, graphics and informative context gathered over four months of over-the-phone and on-ground reporting in Texas, Oregon and, finally, at the junior national tournament in Las Vegas.

Portland, Oregon-based sportswriter Anne Peterson built a relationship with the family and dug into Najiah’s story that illuminated an uphill battle in a sport that’s been dominated by males. The reporting uncovered more angles, leading to stories by Las Vegas-based sportswriter Mark Anderson on a female bull riding pioneer and another by Southwest assistant news director Felicia Fonseca on the popularity of rodeo in Indian Country.

Deputy director of U.S. photography Stephanie Mullen worked to coordinate photo shoots in all three states, while Pacific Northwest, Alaska & Hawaii assistant news director Gillian Flaccus, Fonseca, Davidde Corran from SNTV and Darrell Allen with graphics worked to produce a video package that included consumer-ready and newsroom-ready edits, social video for AP platforms and graphics. New York-based social video producer Amira Borders worked on promotion, and the audience team handled digital presentation.

Las Vegas-based photographer John Locher and video journalist Ty O’Neil navigated a tough day for the junior national tournament when Najiah competed on the same day of a deadly shooting at the University of Nevada-Las Vegas. While Najiah was on a bull, they had just a second or two to capture the ride. In Fort Worth, Texas, AP photographer Matthew Otero provided a striking portrait of the young rider.

Readers on average spent over two minutes on the main bar that was used by customers like ABC News, the Chicago Tribune, the New York Post, Yahoo and MSN. Fox News followed up with an interview with Najiah. On AP’s social media, the engagement was outstanding with over 108,000 views on X, over 50,000 views on YouTube and about 5,000 on TikTok.

For an inclusive story that generated buzz, Peterson, Anderson, Otero, O’Neil, Locher and Fonseca are Best of Week — Second Winner.

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