View contest entry
January 30, 2008

To the Judges:

As the Virginia Tech shootings unfolded, multimedia storytelling became the most compelling and complete way to convey what happened.

The AP dispatched more than 20 staffers to cover the story in every format. Reporters and text, photo, video, graphics and online editors worked together by sharing leads and collaborating to ensure no storytelling opportunity was missed. For the first time, the AP dispatched online specialists to the scene of a breaking story, and the resulting work was viewed by millions of readers.

The multimedia storytelling provided the only way to see – through an animation based on an eyewitness’ recollection – how students in professor Liviu Librescu’s class reacted as Seung-Hui Cho burst into their Norris Hall classroom. Some ran down the hall nursing gunshot wounds, and others hid behind desks and ultimately jumped out the window, aiming for bushes to cushion the fall. A similar re-enactment, of a janitor’s run-in with Cho during the shootings in Norris Hall, also was unmatched by any other news organization. And multimedia storytelling was the only way to hear the emotion in voices, to capture a fleeting but telling gesture or to give a bird’s eye view of the chaos.

No other news organization matched the quality and speed of AP’s multimedia storytelling during this breaking story.

AP’s multimedia play was unprecedented, with newspaper Web sites such as the Atlanta Journal-Constitution (, the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinal ( and Virginia Tech’s hometown Web sites – the Roanoke Times ( and the Richmond Times-Dispatch ( – using the AP’s interactive graphics, videos and slideshows. AP’s Virginia Tech coverage won the 2007 breaking news award from the Online News Association.

I am proud to submit AP’s multimedia work during the Virginia Tech shootings for the 2008 Pulitzer Prizes in the breaking news category.

Thank you for your consideration.


Erin Hanafy
Multimedia Editor