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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This fence, made of circa-Vietnam War era surplus landing mats, ends at Otay Mesa about 15 miles east of the Pacific Ocean. Tijuana is on the left and California on the right. There are two other kinds of fencing along the U.S.-Mexico border: steel mesh and concrete-filled steel beams. John Burnett/NPR hide caption

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Southern Border Wall: Campaign Slogan Meets Reality

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Sergio Mucino was charged with harboring unauthorized immigrants after U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement raided his four Buffalo, N.Y., restaurants, but critics say his illegal workers have suffered much more than he has. John Burnett/NPR hide caption

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How Kitchen Raids In Buffalo Sent Shock Waves Through Immigrant Rights Community

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An unmarked police truck patrols the outside of a detention center run by CoreCivic in Eloy, Ariz., on Jan. 20, 2016. Ricardo Arduengo/AP hide caption

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Ricardo Arduengo/AP

Will The Private Prison Business See A Trump Bump?

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Santo Tomas Catholic Church in Abiquiu, N.M., is the site of an annual saint's day celebration in late November that includes cultural elements of the genizaros, the descendants of Native American slaves. John Burnett/NPR hide caption

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Descendants Of Native American Slaves In New Mexico Emerge From Obscurity

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Case 0435: The remains are presumed to be male and were found Feb. 9, 2012, on the Laborcitas Creek Ranch in Brooks County, Texas. They were exhumed from the Sacred Heart Cemetery in Falfurrias on May 23, 2013. All items were found in the blue backpack. Courtesy of The Texas Observer hide caption

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Courtesy of The Texas Observer

In Texas, A Database Of Exhumed Objects Aims To ID Migrants Who Perished

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Trump Plans To Nominate Retired Marine Gen. John Kelly For Homeland Security

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Texas, Oklahoma Divided Over How To Handle Earthquakes Linked To Oil Drilling

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Haitian nationals at a Mexican government immigration office near the port of entry between Nogales, Sonora, Mexico, and Nogales, Ariz., wait day after day for appointments with U.S. immigration agents so they can enter. As a result of the Haitian influx and a continuing surge of Central Americans on the Texas-Mexico border, the U.S. government has run out of detention space. John Burnett/NPR hide caption

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At The U.S.-Mexico Border, Haitians Arrive To A Harsh Reception

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Immigration And Border Security Top President-Elect Trump's To-Do List

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Texas Hands Donald Trump Its 38 Electoral Votes

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Immigration Was A Hot Button Issue. Now What?

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Voters Across America Weigh In On The End Of The 2016 Campaign

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In order to reduce shootings, all Border Patrol agents are now required to train in a simulated environment complete with immigrants threatening rocks. Agent Aaron Sims trains on the simulator at the CBP National Training Center in Harper's Ferry, W.V. John Burnett/NPR hide caption

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Combating Corruption: U.S. Customs And Border Protection Seeks Deep Reform

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Platform Check: Clinton, Trump Hold Polarized Positions On Immigration

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