HPPR hosts & contributors
From Ground Zero in New York to ground zero in Kabul, to police stations, subway platforms, and darkened theaters, NPR's Peabody-Award-winning correspondent Scott Simon brings a well-traveled perspective to his role as host of Weekend Edition Saturday.
Simon joined NPR in 1977 as chief of its Chicago bureau. Since then, he has reported from all 50 states, covered presidential campaigns and eight wars, and reported from Central America, Africa, India, the Middle East, and the Caribbean. In 2002, Simon took leave of his usual post at Weekend Edition Saturday to cover the war in Afghanistan for NPR. He has also reported from Central America on the continuing wars in that region; from Cuba on the nation's resistance to change; from Ethiopia on the country's famine and prolonged civil war; from the Middle East during the Gulf War; and from the siege of Sarajevo and the destruction of Kosovo.
Simon has received numerous honors for his reporting. His work was part of the Overseas Press Club and Alfred I. duPont-Columbia University Awards NPR earned for coverage of Sept. 11 and its aftermath. He was part of the NPR news teams that won prestigious Alfred I. duPont-Columbia University Awards for covering the war in Kosovo as well as the Gulf War. In 1989, he won a George Foster Peabody Award for his weekly radio essays. The award commended him for his sensitivity and literary style in coverage of events including the murder of six Jesuit priests in El Salvador and the San Francisco earthquake. Simon also accepted the Presidential End Hunger Award for his series of reports on the 1987-1988 Ethiopian civil war and drought. He received a 1986 Robert F. Kennedy Journalism Award for his coverage of racism in a South Philadelphia neighborhood, and a 1986 Silver Cindy for a report on conditions at the Immigration and Naturalization Service's detention center in Harlingen, Texas.
Simon received a Major Armstrong Award in 1979 for his coverage of the American Nazi Party rally in Chicago, and a Unity Award in Media in 1978 for his political reporting on All Things Considered. He also won a 1982 Emmy for the public television documentary The Patterson Project, which examined the effects of President Reagan's budget cuts on the lives of 12 New Jersey residents.
Simon has been a frequent guest host of the CBS television program Nightwatch and CNBC's TalkBack Live. In addition to hosting Weekend Edition Saturday, Simon has appeared as an essayist and commentator on NBC's Weekend Today and NOW with Bill Moyers. He has hosted many public television programs, including "Voices of Vision," "Life on the Internet," "State of Mind," "American Pie," "Search for Common Ground," and specials on privacy in America and democracy in the Middle East. He also narrated the documentary film "Lincoln of Illinois" for PBS. Simon participated in the Grammy Award-nominated 50th anniversary remake of The War of the Worlds (co-starring Jason Robards), and hosted public television's coverage of the 1992 Rio Earth Summit. Simon has hosted the BBC series Eyewitness, which was seen in the United States on the Discovery Channel, and a BBC special on the White House press corps. Simon was also a featured co-anchor of PBS's millennium special broadcast in 2000.
Simon has written for The New York Times' Book Review and Opinion sections, the Wall Street Journal opinion page, the Los Angeles Times, and Gourmet Magazine.
The son of comedian Ernie Simon and actress Patricia Lyons, Simon grew up in Chicago, New York, San Francisco, Los Angeles, Montreal, Cleveland, and Washington, DC. He attended the University of Chicago and McGill University, and he has received a number of honorary degrees.
Simon's book Home and Away: Memoir of a Fan was published in the spring of 2000 by Hyperion, a division of Disney. It topped the Los Angeles Times nonfiction bestseller list for several weeks, and was cited as one of the best books of the year in the Washington Post, Boston Globe, and several other publications. His second book, Jackie Robinson and the Integration of Baseball, kicked off the prestigious Wiley Turning Points series in September of 2002, and was the Barnes & Noble "Sports Book of the Year." Simon's first novel, Pretty Birds, about female teenaged snipers in Sarajevo, was released in May 2005 and acclaimed as "the start of a brilliant new career." His most recent novel, a political comedy called Windy City, was chosen by the Washington Post as one of the best novels of 2008.
As a roving NPR correspondent based in Austin, Texas, John Burnett's beat stretches across the U.S., and, sometimes, around the world. Currently, he is serving as NPR's Religion correspondent.
In December 2012, he returned from a five-month posting in Nairobi as the East Africa Correspondent. Normally, he focuses on the issues and people of the Southwest United States, providing investigative reports and traveling the U.S.-Mexico borderlands. His special reporting projects have included New Orleans during and after Hurricane Katrina, the U.S. invasion of Iraq and its aftermath, and many reports on the Drug War in the Americas. His reports are heard regularly on NPR's award-winning newsmagazines Morning Edition, All Things Considered and Weekend Edition.
Burnett has reported from more than 30 different countries since 1986. His 2008 four-part series "Dirty Money," which examined how law enforcement agencies have gotten hooked on and, in some cases, corrupted by seized drug money, won three national awards: a Scripps Howard National Journalism Award for Investigative Reporting, a Sigma Delta Chi Society of Professional Journalists Award for Investigative Reporting and an Edward R. Murrow Award for the accompanying website. His 2007 three-part series "The Forgotten War," which took a critical look at the nation's 30-year war on drugs, won a Nancy Dickerson Whitehead Award for Excellence in Reporting on Drug and Alcohol Problems.
In 2006, Burnett's Uncivilized Beasts & Shameless Hellions: Travels with an NPR Correspondent was published by Rodale Press. In that year, he also served as a 2006 Ethics Fellow at the Poynter Institute for Media Studies in St. Petersburg, Florida.
In 2004, Burnett won a national Edward R. Murrow Award from the Radio-Television News Directors Association for investigative reporting for his story on the accidental U.S. bombing of an Iraqi village. In 2003, he was an embedded reporter with the First Marine Division during the invasion of Iraq. His work was singled out by judges for the Alfred I. duPont-Columbia University Award honoring the network's overall coverage of the Iraq War. Also in 2003, Burnett won a first place National Headliner Award for investigative reporting about corruption among federal immigration agents on the U.S.-Mexico border.
In the months following the attacks of Sept. 11, Burnett reported from New York City, Pakistan and Afghanistan. His reporting contributed to coverage that won the Overseas Press Club Award and an Alfred I. duPont Columbia University Award.
In 2001, Burnett reported and produced a one-hour documentary, "The Oil Century," for KUT-FM in Austin, which won a silver prize at the New York Festivals. He was a visiting faculty member in broadcast journalism at the Poynter Institute for Media Studies in 2002 and 1997. He received a Ford Foundation Grant in 1997 for a special series on sustainable development in Latin America.
Burnett's favorite stories are those that reveal a hidden reality. He recalls happening upon Carlos Garcia, a Mexico City street musician who plays a musical leaf, a chance encounter that brought a rare and beautiful art form to a national audience. In reporting his series "Fraud Down on the Farm," Burnett spent nine months investigating the abuse of the United States crop insurance system and shining light on surprising stories of criminality.
Abroad, his report on the accidental U.S. Air Force bombing of the Iraqi village of Al-Taniya, an event that claimed 31 lives, helped listeners understand the fog of war. His "Cocaine Republics" series detailed the emergence of Central America as a major drug smuggling region. But listeners may say that one of his best remembered reports is an audio postcard he filed while on assignment in Peshawar, Pakistan, about being at six-foot-seven the "tallest American at a Death to America" rally.
Prior to coming to NPR, Burnett was based in Guatemala City for United Press International covering the Central America civil wars. From 1979-1983, he was a general assignment reporter for various Texas newspapers.
Burnett graduated from the University of Texas at Austin with a bachelor's degree in journalism.