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AP Bangkok bureau delivers competitive and speedy coverage on firework factory explosion

A relative of a victim by an explosion at a firework factory cries at Rong Chang temple in Suphan Buri province, Thailand, Jan. 18, 2024. AP PHOTO / SAKCHAI LALIT

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JINTAMAS SAKSORNCHAI, GRANT PECK, JERRY HARMER, SAKCHAI LALITKANJANAKUL, ANNIKA WOLTERS AND PENNY WANG

The Bangkok bureau speedily responded to reports online about a firework explosion in central Thailand that killed 23 by initially utilizing social media to source and verify information for all formats and to beat competitors in reporting the first accident of its kind in the country this year.

Reacting to news of an explosion on social media, the AP rushed to obtain confirmation from a rescue worker and was able to put out an alert within 30 minutes. Reporters Jintamas Saksornchai and Grant Peck worked together to put out updates for text.

In Southeast Asia where breaking news information comes through on social media faster than on local news, output producers Annika Wolters and Penny Wang helped to identify, source and verify user-generated content and handouts. Jerry Harmer, the Indo China video editor, had quickly provided video to visualize the aftermath of the explosion and provide color for the text story. Thailand-based photographer, Sakchai Lalitkanjanakul, who was on vacation at the time, had also reacted quickly and sourced UGC photos.

AP had video and photo of the aftermath of the explosion by 7:10 p.m., while competitors did not have any visuals with their reporting. The effort demonstrated AP’s strength in speed of not only filing but also verifying with sources such as rescue workers and disaster relief agencies while collaborating across departments and overcoming the physical distance away from the site.

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