Howard Berkes

Howard Berkes has been NPR's rural affairs correspondent since March 2003 focusing on the politics, economics, and culture of rural America.

Based in Salt Lake City, Berkes reports on stories that are often unique to non-urban communities or provide a rural perspective on major issues and events. In 2005, he was part of the NPR reporting team that covered Hurricane Katrina and in 2010, he reported from West Virginia on the disaster at the Upper Big Branch mine. Berkes’ reporting also includes the impact of the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq on military families and service men and women from rural America, including a disproportionate death rate from this community. During multiple presidential and congressional campaigns, Berkes has covered the impact of rural voters on those races. 

Berkes has covered seven Olympic games including the 2004 Summer Games in Athens, the 2008 Summer Games in Beijing and the 2010 Winter Games in Vancouver. He was part of the reporting team that earned NPR a 2009 Edward R. Murrow Award for Sports Reporting for coverage of the Beijing Olympics.

In 1981, Berkes pioneered NPR's coverage of the interior of the American West and public lands issues. He's traveled thousands of miles since then, to every corner of the region, driving ranch roads, city streets, desert washes, and mountain switchbacks, to capture the voices and sounds that give the region its unique identity.

Berkes' stories are heard on Morning Edition, All Things Considered and Weekend Edition. His analysis of regional issues has also been featured on NPR's Talk of the Nation. Berkes has also been a substitute host of Morning Edition, and Weekend All Things Considered.

An easterner by birth, Berkes moved west in 1976 and soon became a volunteer at NPR member station KLCC in Eugene, Oregon. His reports on the 1980 eruptions of Mt. St. Helens were regular features on NPR and prompted his hiring. Berkes is sometimes best remembered for his story that provided the first detailed account of the attempt by Morton Thiokol engineers to stop the fatal 1986 launch of the Space Shuttle Challenger. Berkes teamed with NPR's Daniel Zwerdling for the report, which earned a number of major national journalism awards. In 1989, Berkes followed up with another award-winning report that examined NASA's efforts to redesign the Space Shuttle's rocket boosters.

Reporting by Berkes in 1998 helped transform the Olympic bribery scandal from a local story in Utah into a media firestorm and attracted international attention. His ongoing reporting of Olympic politics and the Olympic Games has made him a resource to other news organizations, including The NewsHour with Jim Lehrer on PBS, MSNBC, A&E's Investigative Reports, the British Broadcasting Corporation, the French magazine L'Express, and many others. When the Olympics finally arrived in Salt Lake City, Berkes' coverage included rides in a bobsled and on a luge sled in attempts to help listeners understand how those sports work.

Berkes has covered Native American issues, the militia movement, neo-nazi groups, nuclear waste, the Unabomber case, the Montana Freemen standoff, polygamy, western water issues, and more. His work has been honored by many organizations, including the American Psychological Association, American Association for the Advancement of Science, the Society of Professional Journalists, the Robert F. Kennedy Memorial, and the National Association of Science Writers.

Berkes also trains news reporters, consults with radio news departments, and serves as a guest faculty member at the Poynter Institute for Media Studies. Berkes was awarded a Nieman Foundation Journalism Fellowship at Harvard University in 1997.

 

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3:30pm

Mon June 6, 2011
The Two-Way

NBC's Olympic TV Dynasty Challenged In Rights Bidding

The International Olympic Committee is listening to pitches and accepting bids Monday and Tuesday for exclusive rights to broadcast the Olympics in the United States.

American broadcast rights are the single biggest revenue generator for the IOC and the bidding underway in Lausanne, Switzerland, has ABC/ESPN and Fox challenging NBC for its lock on the 10 most recent summer and winter games.

The IOC is hoping for a deal totaling more than $4 billion for four Olympics, beginning with the Sochi, Russia, Winter Games in 2014. That would be the biggest TV rights deal ever.

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2:23pm

Fri June 3, 2011

5:59pm

Thu June 2, 2011
The Two-Way

Unsealed Documents Reveal Lax Attention To Safety Before Mine Blast

We've reported and heard plenty in the last year about how the Upper Big Branch mine explosion was preceded by failures to strictly apply mine safety regulations and practices. Both mine owner Massey Energy and the federal Mine Safety and Health Administration share blame, according to a recent report from the West Virginia Governor's Independent Investigation of the disaster.

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3:50pm

Wed June 1, 2011
The Two-Way

In About-Face, Massey COO Chris Adkins Will Not Stay After Merger

NPR News has learned that Massey Energy executive Chris Adkins will not be part of the executive team at Alpha Natural Resources following today's merger of the two coal companies.

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11:20am

Wed June 1, 2011
The Two-Way

Massey-Alpha Coal Mine Merger Approved By Shareholders

The shareholders of coal mine giants Massey Energy and Alpha Natural Resources overwhelmingly approved a merger this morning, despite challenges from some large institutional investors and an ongoing controversy about Massey executives moving into the management structure of the merged company.

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