NMG’s Pennington wins Beat of the Week for U.N. scoop

Matthew Pennington

Matthew Pennington

NMG member Matt Pennington won this week’s AP Beat of the Week award for breaking news three days ahead of the competition that the United Nations was about to issue a report highly critical of North Korea’s human rights record.

Pennington, based in Washington, covers U.S.-Asian affairs for the North America desk, writing frequently about North Korea’s nuclear and missile programs and human rights issues there.

Pennington’s sources on the repressive country include government officials and activists there. Last February, he broke news the U.S. was going to back the European Union and Japan in seeking a U.N. commission of inquiry to probe alleged atrocities under Kim Jong-un, his father and his grandfather.

Pennington then covered defectors and experts testifying at the commission’s public hearings in Washington in October. And he kept checking on when the commission’s report would come out, knowing it likely would be the strongest international effort to date to criticize the country’s human rights record.After a source tipped him that the final report was coming out soon, and would accuse North Korea of crimes against humanity and call for an international criminal investigation, he mined other sources for confirmation.

After getting it from a U.S. official and nailing down a few details, Pennington was able to put out the story _ before the U.N. distributed a report on Friday that was embargoed until this coming Monday morning.