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Months of prep work leads to newsbreak in indictment of Alec Baldwin

This aerial photo shows the Bonanza Creek Ranch in Santa Fe, N.M., Oct. 23, 2021. Actor Alec Baldwin fired a prop gun on the set of a Western being filmed at the ranch on, Oct. 21, killing the cinematographer, officials said. AP PHOTO / JAE C. HONG

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MORGAN LEE, SUSAN MONTOYA BRYAN AND TY O’NEIL

fter hearing special prosecutors say they’d seek to bring a case against Alec Baldwin before a grand jury around mid-November 2023, Santa Fe-based statehouse correspondent Morgan Lee dived into understanding the process to position AP to break the news. It paid off when a courthouse staffer exited the courtroom and whispered to Lee that grand jurors voted to indict the actor.

Southwest chief correspondent Susan Montoya Bryan worked with text editor Yvonne Gonzalez to quickly get out an alert, fast file and writethrus that put AP ahead of all other news outlets. Lee sat in a courtroom twice a month on Thursdays since November after learning that’s when grand juries convene. In the off time, he called court staff, other defense attorneys, regularly checked in with Baldwin’s attorneys and reached out to potential witnesses who might tip him off to whether they had been called to testify before a grand jury.

Montoya Bryan took the lead on writing that Baldwin was indicted on an involuntary manslaughter charge and arranged previously for photos to be linked quickly to the story. From Las Vegas, videographer Ty O’Neil quickly recast a timeline.

AP’s alert was ahead of everyone’s. The story was one of the top 3 on APNews the day it broke, with more than 63,000 page views. The state’s largest paper, the Albuquerque Journal, used the AP story.

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