Journalists based in Pakistan, the United Arab Emirates, Idaho and New York are among the winners of the 2014 Oliver S. Gramling Awards, the highest staff honor of The Associated Press.
The Gramling Awards were created in 1994 to honor AP staffers for excellence. Each year a committee selects winners in four categories – journalism, achievement, scholarship and spirit. Awards range from $3,000 to $10,000. The funds come from an estate set up by the late AP broadcast executive Oliver S. Gramling.
"The winners constitute an extraordinary lineup of talented staff committed to the values of excellence, courage, action and passion that make AP such a special news organization," said AP President and CEO Gary Pruitt. "They range from journalists who work on the front lines of dangerous conflict zones and those who make sure government is held accountable to those that make our mission possible and assure that we succeed as a business. They represent AP in the broadest sense, from our diverse geographic reach to the wide range of expertise of our staff."
Here are the 2014 winners:
$10,000 Oliver S. Gramling Journalism Award
- Dalton Bennett, video journalist, United Arab Emirates
Bennett is one of AP’s go-to video journalists, specializing in compelling visual storytelling from Europe to the Middle East and beyond. Showing vast maturity at just 26, he puts the viewer at the scene of his assignments, whether it’s the fiery barricades in Ukraine or the upheaval of the Gaza war. He also thinks and acts beyond the confines of the video format, regularly contributing breaking news to text wires. In three years, Bennett has gone from being an inexperienced freelancer in Kyrgyzstan to the prototype of the modern AP video journalist capable of covering any breaking news situation. His work has helped AP and its members and customers take full advantage of its multimillion-dollar pioneering investment in high-definition video.
- Muhammed Muheisen, chief photographer, Pakistan
Muheisen captures the loss and hope in day-to-day life in Pakistan and conflict zones throughout the region. Working slowly, with patience and empathy, he gains access other photographers don’t, earning the trust of his subjects in some of the poorest areas on earth. His pictures show a compassion and humanity that are so compelling that they sometimes prompt readers from across the globe to ask how they can help his subjects. He joined AP in 2001, covering major events in the Middle East, the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, as well as stories in Saudi Arabia, China, Afghanistan, Yemen, Egypt, Syria, France and South Africa. Muheisen was twice part of AP teams that won the Pulitzer Prize for covering the wars in Iraq and Syria. He has been honored with many other international awards, including being named Time magazine’s best wire photographer of 2013.
$10,000 Oliver S. Gramling Achievement Award
- Don Rehill, director of election tabulations and research, New York
Rehill helps ensure AP’s position as the definitive source for U.S. election vote count results and elections research. Covering several thousand contests on a typical general election night, he has built a staff of highly trained election coordinators, a network of professional vote-count centers and an efficient election research operation. His dedication to quality and accuracy has built trust among U.S. television networks and other key customers. Rehill joined AP in 2003 as manager of election research and quality control after working with Voter News Service (VNS) and has more than 25 years of election experience.
- GMS Special Events Team
The Global Media Services special events team has contributed to the financial health of AP over the last two years. The team arranges ad hoc broadcast services for customers around the world who do not have staff to do it themselves in times and locations of breaking news, such as the Boston Marathon bombing and the naming of a new pope. The team was on hand to cover 121 news events in 2013. Since 2011 it has reduced costs to increase profitability while establishing operations in places like Kiev, Ukraine. The team representing GMS in its award is Susan Henderson, manager, Americas; Jenny Breuer, technical supervisor, London; Rania Khadr, head of special events, Middle East and Northern Africa; James Lewis, head of special events, Europe and Southern Africa; and Ciaran McQuillan, head of special events, Asia.
$3,000 Oliver S. Gramling Spirit Award
- Rebecca Boone, supervisory correspondent, Idaho
Boone won for her tenacious work covering Idaho’s prison system, which led to increased media access to executions, exposed a culture of violence and evidence that the nation’s largest private prison company falsified staffing records and potentially defrauded the state. As a result of Boone’s work, the state of Idaho took over a privately run state prison, the Idaho Correctional Center, and the FBI launched an investigation into possible contract fraud and related crimes. Boone is a University of Idaho alumna and began her journalism career in 1999 at the Lewiston Tribune. She later moved to Boise, where she became an AP newswoman in 2002, before being promoted to supervisory correspondent earlier this year. Boone serves on the Idaho Supreme Court’s Media/Courts Committee and was a Loyola Journalist Law School fellow in 2012. Her work has also been honored with the Idaho Press Club’s First Amendment Award and the SPJ Sigma Delta Chi Award for Excellence in Public Service Journalism.
- Randy Herschaft, investigative researcher, New York
Herschaft is honored for his work mining data that significantly underpinned exclusive AP coverage and investigations. Herschaft was a member of the Pulitzer Prize-winning team that in 1999 uncovered the Korean War massacre of civilians by U.S. troops at No Gun Ri. An expert in Freedom of Information law, the 25-year AP veteran recently unmasked a former commander in a Nazi SS-led unit living in Minnesota. Herschaft also tracked down the reclusive subject of an iconic AP Vietnam War photo. Herschaft has spent more than a decade scouring documents at the National Archives and Records Administration in College Park, Maryland. He discovered evidence there that U.S. intelligence agents enlisted Japanese and Nazi war criminals during the Cold War. He also uncovered details about the Pond, a super-secret spy organization that preceded the CIA. Born in Brooklyn, New York, Herschaft holds a master's degree in library and information science from Pratt Institute.
$3,000 Oliver S. Gramling Scholarship Award
- Elaine Duddy, human resources business partner, London
Duddy will take a course in internal workplace mediation, developing skills she can put to work in improving staff engagement. Following course completion, Duddy will be certified in workplace mediation. She has worked as part of the human resources team in London for nearly four years.
- Francesco Marconi, corporate strategy analyst, New York
Marconi will study how traditional media can innovate and promote information transparency by understanding new mobile and data technologies. His work will be in conjunction with the Berkman Center for Internet and Society at Harvard University. Marconi studied business and journalism at the University of Missouri and completed postgraduate work at Columbia Business School's Media Program. He started his career at the United Nations, researching science and technology solutions for developing countries.
The winners will be recognized Oct. 22 at a dinner in New York attended by the AP Board of Directors.