Coverage of the massive earthquake, tsunami and nuclear crisis along Japan's northeastern coast won awards for deadline and enterprise reporting from the Associated Press Managing Editors association Wednesday for journalism excellence by AP staffers.
"The AP managed to provide all-encompassing coverage of a disaster that became more staggering with each passing hour," the APME judges said in awarding the Deadline Reporting prize to the AP team that covered the event.
The team of reporters, photographers, interactive producers, video journalists and editors covered an epic series of disasters: the largest earthquake ever recorded in Japan, a giant tsunami that reduced coastal cities to ruins and a nuclear crisis unlike anything since Chernobyl.
"The danger with coverage of such a massive event is that you lose focus on the various threads that make up the whole," the judges said. "The AP never lost sight of the bigger picture, and showed the growing horror that a nation _ and a world _ faced. ... There wasn't a hole the AP didn't fill."
In honoring the AP team for Enterprise Reporting, a separate judging panel said, "Even while new developments were breaking daily, these AP reporters delved into the important questions of why the Japanese nuclear power industry was not as prepared as it should have been for this disaster."
AP mobilized more than 50 journalists _ experts in nuclear power, science writers, veterans of disaster coverage and top editors from New York to London. The result was a breadth of coverage that produced investigations into the nuclear crisis and sparked changes, while also conveying the scale of the tragedy in the tsunami-devastated communities.
APME is an association of editors at AP's 1,400 member newspapers in the U.S. and newspapers served by The Canadian Press in Canada. It annually recognizes outstanding work by the cooperative's journalists. The awards will be presented at APME's annual conference with The Associated Press Photo Managers Sept. 14-16 in Denver.
Photographer Muhammed Muheisen, based in Islamabad, Pakistan, received the News Photos award for his series on unrest in Yemen. The judges cited his remarkable photographic eye and dramatic framing even under difficult and dangerous circumstances over a period of weeks.
Muheisen also won the John L. Dougherty Award for exemplary work by an AP staff member who is 30 years old or younger. In honoring him, the judges noted that he covered events throughout the Middle East during the past year "and he took full advantage."
"In his portfolio of 100 or so photos, he displayed incredible range _ from tense action shots to powerful portraits _ and each shot was more engaging than the last. His portfolio left us wanting to see 100 more," the judges said.
Christopher Sullivan of the Newsfeatures staff won the Feature Writing award for a two-part serial, "The Do-Over," the story of a middle-aged nuclear power plant worker who decides to leave his job to make a trip across America on a makeshift wagon, pulled by a team of horses. The judges said the "magnificently told story ... harkens back to the days of serial dramas full of suspense, harrowing escapades, love and even a cliffhanger."
Photographer Kevin Frayer, based in New Delhi, won the Feature Photos award for a series of black-and-white aerial views of Helmand province in southern Afghanistan. The judges cited the unique aerial perspective as giving an unusual view of the Afghan countryside, showing both civilian and military aspects of life there.
Interactive producer Dave Clark was cited for Best Use of Multimedia for leading the AP Interactive Department's royal wedding coverage. "Very entertaining and clear. ... Worthy of the Royals!" the judges wrote.
Photographer Greg Bull, based in San Diego, was honored by the judges for Best Use of Video for his "really terrific video work" in covering the surge in high-speed downhill skateboarding, which has sparked a fierce debate in Southern California over what place the sport has on city streets.
Pennsylvania staffers Mark Scolforo and Michael Sirolly won the Charles Rowe Award for Distinguished State Reporting for leading the "Broken Budgets" reporting work in Pennsylvania, part of the joint AP-APME initiative on the fiscal crisis facing U.S. states and cities. "This was a terrific team effort that shed light on fat in state bureaucracy at a time of diminishing resources," the judges said.
The judges also awarded the following honorable mentions:
_ Deadline Reporting: AP staff for coverage of the tornadoes that swept through the South in April.
_ Enterprise Reporting: Rukmini Callimachi, Marco Chown Oved and Michelle Faul for coverage of violence in Ivory Coast, and St. Louis correspondent Jim Salter for an investigation into methamphetamine use.
_ Feature Writing: National Writer Allen Breed for "Sabrina's Twilight," the story of a teen-age love that isn't given a chance to mature, and National Writer Pauline Arrillaga for "A Brother's Gift," the story of one brother donating his liver to another, and the devastating consequences.
_ Best Use of Multimedia: Pailin Wedel, Feilding Cage, Darrell Allen, Sean McDade, Dan Kempton and Jennifer Farrar for their Japan earthquake interactive, and the Interactive Department staff for the government shutdown interactive.
_ Best Use of Video: Video journalist Rich Matthews for coverage of the U.S. border with Mexico and the war on drugs, and National Writer Martha Irvine for her story on the Chicago Urban Prep Charter Academy.
_ John L. Dougherty Award: Cleveland correspondent Meghan Barr, and Feilding Cage of the Interactive Department.
_ Charles Rowe Award: Sacramento, Calif., bureau for watchdog reporting, and Michael Rubinkam, based in Allentown, Pa., for continuing coverage of gas-drilling in Pennsylvania.