AP announces winners of 2018 Oliver S. Gramling Awards

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Multiformat journalists and staffers from around the world are among the winners of the 2018 Oliver S. Gramling Awards, the highest internal honor of The Associated Press.

Gramling Award winners pose with AP President and CEO Gary Pruitt. From left: photographer Tsvangirayi Mukwazhi, video journalist Rafael Wober, News Director for Lebanon and Syria Zeina Karam, Vatican correspondent Nicole Winfield, Pruitt, correspondent Maggie Michael, and senior developer Senthil Chidambaram. (AP Photo/Stuart Ramson)

Created in 1994 to recognize AP staffers for professional excellence, the Gramlings are decided each year by a panel of judges from across the news cooperative. The $10,000 awards come from an estate set up by the late AP broadcast executive Oliver S. Gramling.

The judges this year evaluated submissions in three categories: journalism, achievement and spirit. 

“The winners represent the best of AP and share a commitment to our important news mission,” said AP President and CEO Gary Pruitt. “Though their jobs and locations vary around the AP world, they are all passionate individuals and their work is inspiring.

Here are the 2018 winners:

$10,000 Oliver S. Gramling Journalism Awards:

  • Beirut reporting team

Though the journalism award customarily goes to individuals, the judges decided to present it to news director for Lebanon and Syria Zeina Karam, photographer Hassan Ammar, reporter Sarah El Deeb, senior producer Bassam Hatoum, chief photographer Hussein Malla, reporter Bassem Mroue and video journalist Andrea Rosa because of their compelling work documenting Syria’s brutal and dangerous seven-year war. Reporting from inside the country and at a distance, the all-formats team consistently found creative ways to overcome safety and logistical challenges to tell the daily story of a country in conflict.

  • Maggie Michael, correspondent, Cairo

Michael reports on disturbing atrocities resulting from conflict in the Middle East -- from militant hot spots in Iraq and Libya to jihadi nests in Sinai -- tenaciously and courageously pursuing truth.  She led AP’s reporting of the three-year conflict in Yemen, scrutinizing the perpetrators of the war while also documenting the plight of civilians suffering and dying because of the violence. Often at great personal risk, Michael has doggedly reported stories out of parts of the Middle East that otherwise would not see the light of day.

  • Nicole Winfield, Vatican correspondent, Rome

When Winfield breaks news, it reverberates throughout the Catholic Church and beyond. She has mastered the Vatican beat, providing unrivaled coverage of the world’s most powerful religious institution. Winfield’s reporting on the sex abuse scandal by Chilean clergy led to an unprecedented mass resignation, while her investigation into the Vatican’s children’s hospital exposed major shortcomings. Dedicated to her craft as a writer, she is also a team player who works closely with colleagues across formats to produce the fullest report.

  • Rachel Zoll, religion writer, New York

The pre-eminent voice on religion for more than a decade, Zoll has led AP’s reporting on the subject, cultivating relationships with sources across all faiths, writing remarkable stories and mentoring fellow journalists to better understand the importance of covering religion. Her reporting spans from a series on Christian missionaries in Africa to a 2016 election-year piece on how conservative Christians felt under siege to a story about two churches in Georgia -- one black, one white -- trying to bridge the divide. Zoll’s sourcing led to AP being first to confirm on-the-record the death of Rev. Billy Graham.

$10,000 Oliver S. Gramling Achievement Award:

  • Rafael Wober, video journalist, Hong Kong

A video journalist who has spent more than 2,000 days inside North Korea in the past 15 years, Wober has advanced AP’s news position while also pushing commercial opportunities that generate revenue for the news agency’s bottom line. Wober, who can break news fluently in five languages -- English, Mandarin, Cantonese, Japanese and Korean -- has done so for broadcasters from Tokyo to New York. His work has generated substantial revenue for AP Global Media Services, as well as the AP Video Archive. Because of his video contributions, AP now has the largest independent and varied selection of archived video from North Korea.

$10,000 Oliver S. Gramling Spirit Awards:

  • Senthil Chidambaram, senior developer, Cranbury, New Jersey

As the user interface architect for the AP portals customers use to access AP content, Chidambaram brings more than technical skill to his work. He forecasts future enhancements, works proactively to anticipate customer and business needs, and proposes solutions. His leadership on the development of the AP Newsroom portal is directly responsible for the quality and speed with which news features are added. Chidambaram’s meticulousness and attention to detail set him apart. A team player, he shares his knowledge freely, teaching and inspiring his colleagues.

  • Tsvangirayi Mukwazhi, photographer, Harare, Zimbabwe

Mukwazhi led AP’s comprehensive coverage of one of Africa’s biggest stories of the year: the fall of Zimbabwe’s Robert Mugabe. He reported the military coup, Mugabe’s resignation and the exultation of a nation, the country’s first election without Mugabe on the ballot, and the crackdown on opposition supporters. In a country with strict rules for media accreditation, Mukwazhi’s planning and connections allowed AP staffers to get into the country while most foreign media outlets were turned away. He is tenacious, persistent and supremely resourceful, while at the same time cheerful, calm and collegial to his colleagues.


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