AP announces expansion of investigative reporting efforts
The Associated Press is deepening its commitment to investigative journalism by expanding its Washington-based investigative team, enlarging another group focused on national stories and launching a unit of international reporters to pursue in-depth projects across borders.
The teams' goals are to develop investigations around breaking news events across the globe and produce exclusive reports that expose wrongdoing and illuminate social issues.
AP's latest investment in newsgathering will yield more exclusives for all platforms. And by funneling data from some of AP’s investigative projects to member news organizations and clients, it will help them produce their own exclusive local content.
"Customers, readers and viewers the world over rely on AP for fast and accurate coverage of breaking news events," said AP Senior Vice President and Executive Editor Kathleen Carroll. "And they count on aggressive newsgathering to give them something fresh – the revelations, investigations, new angles and images that no one else has.
"That’s why we continue to deepen our commitment to investigative work and are making a number of important hires and assignment changes."
Joining the Washington investigative team are Ronnie Greene and Jeff Horwitz.
Greene has been a senior reporter at The Center for Public Integrity and previously was a longtime reporter and editor at the Miami Herald. He recently served as project editor for a Center series describing how the coal industry beat back miners' claims for black lung benefits, which won the 2014 Pulitzer Prize for investigative reporting. In Miami, Greene led award-winning exposes about unpunished abuses in Florida group homes, slave-like conditions in Florida’s farm fields, cargo-plane crashes and public corruption in South Florida. Greene is the author of "Night Fire: Big Oil, Poison Air" and "Margie Richard's Fight To Save Her Town."
Horwitz is currently on a Knight-Bagehot fellowship at Columbia University. As a reporter for American Banker between 2009 and 2013, he wrote about banks' legal woes and the fallout from the housing crisis. He documented how shoddy record-keeping and robo-signing pervaded JPMorgan Chase & Co.'s sale of defaulted credit card debts, and exposed how banks profited from the sale of overpriced insurance. He was a 2012 Loeb Award finalist for stories exposing how banks used insurance to disguise billions of dollars of housing boom-era kickbacks.
Greene and Horwitz will join a team, led by News Editor Ted Bridis, that also includes reporters Stephen Braun, Dina Cappiello, Jack Gillum and Eileen Sullivan. The Washington team won the 2012 Pulitzer and Goldsmith prizes for investigative reporting on the New York Police Department's intelligence programs. In May 2012, the team also broke a story about a CIA operation in Yemen to stop an airliner bomb plot by al-Qaida. That story led to the seizure of AP phone records by the U.S. Department of Justice. Protests against that action eventually led to stronger press protections under new DOJ rules put in place earlier this year.
The expansion of the U.S. investigations team, which emphasizes state and local data-driven projects, will help AP’s member news organizations to localize AP's national reporting.
The new team members are AP reporters David B. Caruso in New York, Michael Kunzelman in New Orleans, Garance Burke in San Francisco and Holbrook Mohr in Jackson, Mississippi. They join a team that also includes Boston-based reporter Jeff Donn and is led by New York-based National Investigative Editor Rick Pienciak.
Mohr, Kunzelman, Donn and Pienciak were part of the team whose coverage of the BP Deepwater Horizon oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico earned AP the 2010 George Polk Award for Environmental Reporting and the 2011 Grantham Prize of Special Merit.
Mohr and Kunzelman helped expose problems with the U.S. government’s J-1 visa program, after which the State Department made major changes to the program. Caruso has done extensive reporting on how 9/11 first responders suing New York City had exaggerated or falsified medical claims. Donn was a 2012 Pulitzer Prize finalist for National Reporting for his series on the deteriorating state of the nation's nuclear power plants. Burke has written data-driven accountability stories on the environment, health care and food policy that have helped to spur government action in Washington and Sacramento.
International investigations, such as AP's revelation of a "Cuban Twitter," designed by the U.S. government to topple the communist government in Cuba, are being led by Washington-based editor Trish Wilson, who oversees four reporters as well as other watchdog efforts around the world. The new team includes Frank Bajak, based in Lima, Peru; Erika Kinetz in Shanghai; Richard Lardner in Washington; and Raphael Satter in London.
Bajak joined AP in 1982 and has reported from nearly two dozen countries on three continents. As chief of Andean News since 2006, Bajak has led coverage of Colombia’s drug wars, the rise of the left in South America and Venezuela under Hugo Chavez.
Kinetz has reported from Myanmar and India, where her investigation into a leading microfinance company’s cover-up of borrower suicides prompted the government to press for prosecutions. She was also part of a team that won a 2014 National Headliner Award for stories showing how the U.S. let its sanctions languish as it wooed Myanmar’s ruling generals.
Lardner, who joined AP in 2007, has written extensively on the military and national security, including wartime fraud and waste in Iraq and Afghanistan, weapons programs, cybersecurity and private security contractors. He was part of the award-winning AP team that covered the first shootings at Fort Hood, Texas.
Satter focuses on cybersecurity, has covered the Climategate emails, WikiLeaks disclosures and Britain’s tabloid phone hacking scandal.