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AP names 9 winners of Gramling Awards, including three Mideast journalists


NEW YORK -- The Associated Press has named nine people from its editorial, technical and administrative staff as winners of its 2007 Oliver S. Gramling Awards for excellence, among them three journalists who have put themselves at personal and professional risk to cover stories in the Middle East.

AP President and CEO Tom Curley said the awards selection committee’s recognition of the AP presence in hostile environments was particularly apt this year because of all the dangers reporters have been subjected to in trying to cover conflicts in the Middle East. “This year’s winners distinguished themselves as role models. Their achievements are the result of exceptional focus despite sometimes life-threatening obstacles,” said Curley.

The honorees also include a bureau supervisor regarded as a role model for AP editors on deadline, a multimedia investigative journalist with a knack for breaking stories, a London-based technologist who helped establish a new Arabic language wire, and the Web manager for the AP Television News client site.

The awards, now in their 14th year, are given annually to staff members whose work and initiative contribute significantly to the news report and to overall AP operations. The awards are named after the AP newsman and executive who in 1941 developed AP’s first radio wire. Oliver S. Gramling bequeathed his estate to AP when he died in 1992, directing that it be used for AP staff members nominated for excellence by their colleagues. A committee of AP bureau and department managers selected the winners.

The selection committee also paid special tribute to the team of researchers, writers, editors and others who contributed to the success of AP’s first history book in six decades, BREAKING NEWS: How the Associated Press Has Covered War, Peace, and Everything Else (Princeton Architectural Press, June 2007).

This year’s winners:

-- Gramling Journalism Awards ($10,000 each): John Antczak, backup supervisor in the Los Angeles bureau, for serving as a model for the skillbase an AP editor should possess by being the guiding hand that squeezes out the absolute best journalism while upholding and promoting the news ethics and standards that define the AP, all while on deadline; Sharon Theimer of the Washington-based Multimedia Investigative Team for her groundbreaking work in producing content across all AP formats.

-- Gramling Achievement Awards ($10,000 each): Arif Ali, London-based Regional Product Director for Europe, Middle East and Africa (EMEA), for overseeing the technical creation and implementation of a host of international services, including AP Headline and most recently an Arabic language wire; Tracey Rogers, Web Manager for AP Television News, for using innovation and technology to turn the Web site into what some regard as the most comprehensive, user-friendly communications tool in the video news business.

-- Gramling Spirit Awards ($3,000 each): Qassim Abdul-Zahra, Baghdad-based reporter, for breaking stories and fearlessly covering the Iraqi government, at great personal risk to himself and his loved ones; Ibrahim Barzak, AP’s correspondent in the Gaza Strip, for providing straightforward, unbiased journalism in a highly politicized news atmosphere, often doing so while under fire; Bassam Hatoum, Beirut-based senior producer for AP Television News, for inspiring a loyal team of staffers and stringers across all AP formats in Lebanon and never failing to win on a story; and Malcolm Ritter, New York-based science writer, for being the ultimate team player who freely gives his time to assist any AP journalist requesting help, and creating the AP Science Wiki page, an invaluable resource used by writers around the world.

-- Gramling Scholarship Award ($3,000): Peter Prengaman, Los Angeles-based immigration/diversity reporter, whose goal to take advanced Arabic studies at the University of California, Los Angeles, is aimed at strengthening his current beat and bringing him closer to his future goal of being stationed in the Middle East or North Africa as an AP news manager.


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