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For immediate release
February 16, 2000



NPR Creates New Southwest Border Beat
NPR Correspondent John Burnett Will Report on Changes to the Region



National Public Radio (NPR) has created a Southwest Border beat to examine cities and towns along the U.S.-Mexican border that are growing into a distinct region and whose issues ignore the international boundary. The creation of this beat is a first of its kind for a national news organization.

As of January 1, 2000, NPR's Southwest Correspondent, John Burnett, has begun to focus a majority of his stories on the southwest border, specifically the region that stretches both north and south, from San Antonio to Monterey and east and west from Brownsville to Nogales. Future stories will focus on a variety of issues, including: trade, environment, immigration, the drug war, NAFTA, poverty, and border culture, as well as the growing development of northern Mexico.

More and more economists, social scientists, writers and marketers are looking at the U.S.-Mexico border as a sub-nation, says John Burnett. Now, NPR will be at the forefront of the changes taking place in this growing region of the country.

In a recent report, Bordering On the Future, the Texas Comptroller calculated that if the forty-three Texas counties that border Mexico comprised the 51st state, it would be number one in poverty, unemployment, percentage of impoverished schoolchildren, percentage of population that speaks Spanish in the home and last in per capita personal income. In matters of trade, border towns often look across the river to their sister cities and beyond, rather than to their own capitals of Washington or Mexico City.

Throughout his fourteen years as NPR's Southwest correspondent, Burnett has become familiar with the many issues facing the border region. In addition to covering Texas and the surrounding states, Burnett has also reported frequently from Mexico and Central America. Most recently, he covered Hurricane Mitch in Honduras and Nicaragua, the Zapatista Rebellion in Chiapas, Mexico, and produced a four-part series on the civil war in Colombia.

Prior to joining NPR, Burnett was a freelance reporter based in Guatemala City, where he filed reports for the Latin American News Service, Voice of America, and later for NPR. He also covered the guerrilla war in Guatemala for United Press International. Burnett earned a bachelor's of science degree in journalism from the University of Texas, Austin in 1978. He is also fluent in Spanish.

Renowned for its journalistic excellence and standard-setting news, information, and cultural programming, NPR serves a growing audience of 14.6 million Americans each week via 625 public radio stations. NPR also distributes programming to listeners in Europe, Asia, Australia and Africa via NPR Worldwidesm, to military installations overseas via American Forces Network and throughout Japan via cable.