Posted in Behind the News

After the attacks, teamwork in Paris and beyond

, by Paul Colford

John Daniszewski, vice president for international news, noted the speed and accuracy of AP journalists in Paris from the moment the deadly attacks began last Friday.

“When extremists struck at the soul and heart of the City of Lights, the reporters, photographers and videographers of AP’s Paris bureau put aside the normal human instincts of sadness and fear and responded like the professionals they are,” Daniszewski said.

A victim of an attack in Paris lies dead outside the Bataclan theater, Friday Nov. 13, 2015. This photo has been widely published around the world. (AP Photo/Jerome Delay)

“From the first dull thud of bombs going off at the soccer stadium to the confused reports of shootings at bars and nightspots to the horrifying realization that scores of concertgoers were being held hostage and killed at a historic theater, they were sure-footed, accurate and enterprising at every turn.”

Though it’s impossible to name all those who contributed to AP’s fast-moving coverage, these staffers were behind two major AP Newsbreaks on Sunday that showed AP was out in front in its reporting on one of the biggest stories of the year.

Qassim Abdul-Zahra in Baghdad obtained information and later an image of an intelligence memo in which senior Iraqi intelligence officials warned members of the U.S.-led coalition of imminent assaults the day before Paris was struck. Four of the six senior officials confirmed to AP that French officials specifically were warned.

Jamey Keaten and Lori Hinnant, with help from Raf Casert, later broke the news that three key suspects in the attack were stopped and questioned by French police near the Belgian border hours after the attacks, then were released.

Daniszewski praised the teamwork beyond Paris – from the assistance of editors in London and New York to work by staffers in Brussels, Washington, Baghdad and other locations.

AP Paris reporters, working with Bureau Chief Angela Charlton, were in constant demand among top radio and TV broadcasters seeking additional insights. They spoke to the Fox News Channel, MSNBC, NPR and others.

In other close-up storytelling, Jerome Pugmire, Europe sports reporter, was inside the national stadium in Paris for a soccer match between France and Germany when he heard a “loud bang,” as he described it in an AP video report:

Chief Photographer for Africa Jerome Delay, who was home in Paris the night of the attacks, recounted his experience on the city streets in the hours that followed – for The New York Times Lens photo blog, Time magazine’s Lightbox, Paris Match and Telerama. Delay’s haunting image of a victim covered by a sheet and lying alone outside the Bataclan music hall has been published widely and is likely to be considered one of the iconic photos of the attacks.

“It felt like it had been forgotten,” Delay told Time. “It felt like I wasn’t supposed to be here; that I wasn’t supposed to see it.”

Daniszewski added: “The memorable still images and video, and the sensitive and respectful writing about this tragedy, are a testament to the diligence, dedication and skill of a truly amazing team of journalists.

“We are so proud of the work, and of them.”