NEW YORK – Associated Press journalists and staffers based in Chicago, Hong Kong, London, Rome and Washington are among the winners of the 2020 Oliver S. Gramling Awards and Chairman’s Prize, the highest internal honors of The Associated Press.
Created in 1994 to recognize AP staffers for professional excellence, the Gramling Awards are decided each year by a panel of judges from across the news cooperative. This year’s awards were judged by the Associated Press Management Committee. The $10,000 awards come from a fund established by the estate of the late AP broadcast executive Oliver S. Gramling.
The judges this year evaluated submissions in four categories: journalism, achievement and spirit, and a Chairman’s Prize. Five of the prizes this year were awarded to teams. Each team represents a larger group of colleagues who were instrumental in their respective achievements.
The Chairman’s Prize, created in 2004, is an honor bestowed by the not-for-profit cooperative for a transformational offering that benefits AP and the news industry it serves.
“In a year when we have faced unprecedented challenges around the world, our winners brought the talent, innovation and tenacity essential to advancing our journalism and our mission,” said AP President and CEO Gary Pruitt.
Here are the 2020 winners:
$10,000 Oliver S. Gramling Journalism Awards:
- Nancy Benac, White House editor, Washington
In an election year saturated with crises, Benac has calmly and masterfully guided AP’s White House news report, delivering fast, factual and nuanced coverage of the Trump presidency. A veteran journalist and editor, she has helped steer the news agency’s reporting on some of the most consequential stories of the Trump administration, including the president’s response to violent clashes in Charlottesville, Virginia; his historic meetings with North Korea’s Kim Jong Un; his impeachment by the House and subsequent acquittal by the Senate; and his administration’s response to the coronavirus pandemic. All the while, she champions AP’s standards of fairness and accuracy. Benac wears many hats – ghostwriter, master organizer, teacher, counselor, and historian among them – and is revered by colleagues for her poise and graceful writing.
- Andale Gross, Race and Ethnicity editor, Chicago
Gross has propelled AP’s race and ethnicity coverage to the forefront of the news industry at a time when a racial reckoning has gripped the world. Since he took the helm last December, AP’s race and ethnicity team has probed and illuminated racial inequity and injustice in the United States and beyond, whether it’s the examining of the disproportionate toll of COVID-19 on people of color to ambitious coverage of the U.S. protests against police brutality. Described by colleagues as a talented journalist and patient coach, Gross has enlivened both AP’s coverage of and conversations about race. He is a powerful advocate for diverse voices to not only be heard but represented in the news agency’s coverage across the board. Without him, AP would not have a news report that speaks to all audiences.
- COVID-19 reporting teams in Italy, Spain and New York
Teams of AP journalists in Italy, Spain, and New York City worked fearlessly to tell the story of the COVID-19 pandemic across all formats, capturing every major moment and detailing the human toll in some of the world’s hardest-hit areas. Setting aside their own emotions, these journalists navigated lockdowns and restrictions to relay intimate stories of an ICU in Spain, funeral homes in New York and health care workers in Italy, showing the world the trauma and the heroism happening behind closed doors. Their work served as a template for AP journalists across the company who began to face their own challenges in covering the pandemic as it entered their regions. This team didn’t just cover the outbreak; they lived it. Representing the COVID-19 reporting teams are: Renata Brito, video journalist, Barcelona; Luca Bruno, photographer, Milan; Robert Bumsted, video journalist, New York; John Minchillo, photographer, New York; Maria Grazia Murru, senior producer, Rome; Aritz Parra, chief correspondent, Madrid.
$10,000 Oliver S. Gramling Achievement Awards:
- AP Playbook team
Staffers in News and Technology reinvigorated AP’s reputation for innovation through the creation of AP Playbook, a planning tool used companywide both at AP and by its customers around the world. Playbook provides AP with a tool to manage all news coverage planning globally across all formats and powers AP Coverage Plan, which provides customers with advance information on what the news agency will be covering on any given day. By combining the expertise and experience of staffers across the cooperative and licensing the tool to other newsrooms, this collaboration has set a precedent for future projects. Representing the AP Playbook team are: Jason Smith, director of ENPS customer engagement and escalation, Washington; Brian Doyle, director of ENPS product management, Harrisburg, Pennsylvania; Amanda Barrett, deputy managing editor for news administration, New York; Shelley Acoca, global news manager, New York; Ed Rossi, director of editorial systems, Phoenix; Audrius Juskelis, deputy director, technology, New York.
- Pronto team
The development and deployment of Pronto, AP’s state-of-the-art editing and publishing tool, has never been more relevant or essential with AP’s global staff working remotely in response to the coronavirus pandemic. Pronto allows AP journalists to file from anywhere on any device. Using a modern approach to product development, the team conceived and built AP’s next generation text editing system, which has demonstrated it can and will grow with AP in an era where change is unrelenting. The Pronto team is represented by: John Barrow, director of product design, New York; Brooke Lansdale, deputy director of news operations, New York; Ed Rossi, director of editorial systems, Phoenix; Chad Schorr, director of newsroom technology, Cranbury, New Jersey; David Scott, deputy managing editor for operations, New York.
$10,000 Oliver S. Gramling Spirit Awards:
- Rebecca Ip, GMS special events coordinator, Hong Kong
Described by colleagues as the bedrock of AP’s Hong Kong operation, Ip goes above and beyond to deliver much more than what her job title requires. For more than two decades, she has worked tirelessly on anything that comes her way, contributing to nearly every aspect of the bureau’s day-to-day workings. During the Hong Kong protests, Ip found camera crews, fixers and interview subjects, allowing teams to gather solid footage and exclusive interviews. More recently, during the coronavirus pandemic, she scoured stores in Hong Kong for personal protective equipment and shipped it to colleagues around the world. In addition to her can-do attitude, Rebecca has been instrumental in growing business revenue, impressing customers and providing technical support. A Hong Kong native, Ip started her AP career as a part-time employee in 1998 and became a full-time staffer in 2006.
- PPE and Facilities team
When the COVID-19 pandemic began to change the way AP operated, facilities team members in New York and Cranbury, New Jersey, worked quickly and effectively to provide personal protective equipment to AP staffers around the world. The team sourced materials and distributed packages containing masks, gloves and hand sanitizer, even bottling gallons of hand sanitizer in a makeshift assembly line. Throughout the pandemic, facilities team members came into the office to ensure staffers working remotely continued to receive the technical equipment necessary to work effectively. As protests erupted across the U.S., they packed and shipped protective gear, working together to create and maintain a stock of necessary supplies for their colleagues. Through it all, they maintained their positivity while executing on critical behind-the scenes efforts. Without their work, AP would not have been able to safely tell these stories and produce such quality journalism. The team is represented by: Rob Hirsch, director of facilities, New York; Pat Kiernan, global technology asset manager, Cranbury, New Jersey; Brooke Lansdale, deputy director of news operations, New York; Dave Modrowski, head of bureau operations, London.
$10,000 Associated Press Chairman’s Prize
- Video and Audio Transformation team
Over the course of days, a team of staffers based in London and Washington transitioned AP’s sprawling video and audio operation to remote editing and filing, allowing the news agency to continue delivering to customers without skipping a beat. This work was paramount in ensuring the success of AP’s transition to a work-from-home environment in response to the coronavirus pandemic. The team created a remote master control and live desk, reorganized AP’s entire video editing workflow and overhauled the audio process – all while supporting customers in adapting their own processes. This massive shift, which has yielded the creation of new workflows, technology solutions and ways to collaborate, has been critical to AP’s ability to maintain its essential products. It has been equally vital to AP’s capacity to tell the story of not only the pandemic but every major story since. The team is represented by: Paul Redhouse, technology specialist, London; Mohac Bilecen, technology specialist, London; Gordon Ullah, video operations manager, London; Lou Pagan, deputy director, technology specialists, Washington; Tomislav Skaro, news manager for global video, Cairo; Jeannie Ohm, news editor for video, Washington; Ben Thomas, broadcast newsperson, Washington; Samira Becirovic, head of news production, London.
Get to know the winners: