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AP crushes competition with comprehensive, creative coverage of farmer protests in Brussels

Farmers lit fires outside the European Parliament building in Brussels, Thursday, Feb. 1, 2024 as a part of ongoing protests over excessive costs, rules and bureaucracy. AP VIDEO / SYLVAIN PLAZY

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SYLVAIN PLAZY, MARK CARLSON, ALEKS FURTULA, PHILIPP JENNE AND RAF CASSERT

Sylvain Plazy, Mark Carlson, Aleks Furtula, Philipp Jenne and Raf Cassert combined with others across Europe in a well-coordinated effort to crush the competition on coverage of farmers protesting at a crucial moment in European decision-making.

After days of protests building in France and some other countries, angry farmers decided to turn their attention to Brussels on the same day as an emergency EU summit about aid for Ukraine. AP had been following protesters across France and Belgium, and senior producer Sylvain and others in Brussels deftly rearranged plans for the summit to ensure that AP would capture the farmer actions too.

Sylvain filmed while cycling in and out of tractors well before dawn as they approached the EU capital, while video journalist Carlson met up overnight with a farmer and filmed while riding along cobblestones to the European Parliament atop his tractor. Video journalists Furtula and Jenne joined them, and the team provided 12 straight hours of live coverage of the protests as they lit hay on fire and threw firecrackers at police.

Brussels news editor Cassert and Paris-based writer John Leicester produced important explainers about the protest movement. Amid the chaos, Cassert and reporter Lorne Cook beat competitors with an alert about a surprise deal to release 50 billion euros in EU aid to Ukraine. And a photo gallery showcased the excellent work on farmer protests across Europe.

Video play was off the charts. On Feb. 1 alone, AP video edits from Belgium and France drew more than 2,500 hits, including more than 700 on AP Direct. And the impressive coverage came at a crucial time in negotiations with two major French customers.

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