John Burnett
Steve Barrett/N/A

John Burnett

Southwest Correspondent, National Desk

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 Southwest Correspondent for the National Desk.

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.

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Keith Cole is one of the Texas inmates in the federal lawsuit challenging extreme heat in Texas prisons. John Burnett/NPR hide caption

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Texas Prisoners Sue Over 'Cruel' Conditions, Citing Extreme Heat

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Realistic-looking wooden pistols carved and painted by an inmate at the Walls Unit prison in Huntsville, Texas, in 1964. They were intended to be used in an escape attempt but were discovered by employees of the prison. Courtesy of Texas Prison Museum hide caption

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From Homemade Weapons To Inmate Art, An Inside Look At Life Behind Bars

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Lupe Dempsey, a retired federal agent, brings her Glock 9mm with her when she goes down to the Rio Grande. She believes the border is too wide open, evidenced by this unguarded metal walkway across the river in far West Texas. John Burnett/NPR hide caption

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Borderland Trump Supporters Welcome A Wall In Their Own Backyard

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Justino DeLeon, 58, stands in front of his home in Pharr, Texas. A former watermelon picker; he retired from farm work when he fell off a melon truck and hurt his arm. John Burnett/NPR hide caption

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In South Texas, Fair Wages Elude Farmworkers, 50 Years After Historic Strike

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Deadly Hot-Air Balloon Crash Renews Questions About Industry's Safety

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Hot Air Balloon Crash Leaves At Least 16 Dead In Central Texas

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Dallas, A Grieving City, Honors Slain Officers; Awaits Obama's Visit

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Dallas police officer Kimberly Howard wears a cross given to her earlier in the day by a random well-wisher outside department headquarters in Dallas on Saturday. Gerald Herbert/AP hide caption

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In Dallas, An Already-Embattled Police Department Mourns

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Gunman Kills Dallas Police Officers In Attack On Black Lives Matter Protest

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Deadlocked Supreme Court Fails To Revive Obama's Immigration Plan

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LGBT Self-Defense Site 'Pink Pistols' Gains Followers After Orlando Massacre

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Families Of Undocumented Victims Of Orlando Face Unique Challenges

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Love And Mourning Hang Over Orlando

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Obama, Biden Visit With Victims Of Orlando Mass Shooting

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