National Desk Staffing News : NPR Extra Ammad Omar will become Deputy National Editor/West; Eric Whitney will become NPR's Mountain West/Great Plains Bureau Chief; and more...

National Desk Staffing News

In a note to newsroom staff Senior National Editor Vickie Walton-James announced this staffing update:


I'd like to share some exciting news about new postings on the National Desk.

Ammad Omar will become Deputy National Editor/West, overseeing Western coverage for the National Desk and serving as editorial lead at NPR West. Ammad joined the National Desk as a supervising editor earlier this year, overseeing the poverty and philanthropy beat and coverage of reproductive rights issues. Ammad also directed coverage of the Boeing 737 Max. He's proven to be a strong and thoughtful leader and is calm and decisive when directing news coverage. Before joining the desk, Ammad served as an editor and supervisor at Weekend All Things Considered. He also edited at Morning Edition and Tell Me More. Ammad spent seven years at member station WBEZ in Chicago, reporting, hosting and eventually managing at the station. He started his career as a news anchor at Pakistani TV channel Indus Vision, which was broadcast to more than 60 countries. Ammad is currently a fellow in the Corporation for Public Broadcasting's Editorial Integrity and Leadership Initiative, designed to support newsroom leaders throughout public media. Ammad describes himself as an avid and awful golfer. LA awaits.

Eric Whitney, News Director for Montana Public Radio, will become NPR's Mountain West/Great Plains Bureau Chief. Eric will edit member station reporters and work with news directors across the region to help leverage the talent spread across the public radio system. Eric is well-known to the network as a contributor to the National Desk and the NPR-Kaiser Health News collaborative. Eric has covered health science and business, among other topics, for Colorado Public Radio and KRCC in Colorado Springs. He also covered Montana, Wyoming and the Dakotas for High Plains News. In his current role at Montana Public Radio, Eric serves as lead editor and executive producer of the podcast Richest Hill, which grew out of NPR's StoryLab podcast incubator. The New Yorker dubbed it a "must-listen." Eric also is a fellow in CPB's Editorial Integrity and Leadership Initiative. He's a fan of cross country skiing and will attend races in Canada next March. Godspeed, Eric.

Liz Baker, a key member of the Weekend All Things Considered team, will become a National Desk producer, based at NPR West. Liz is a versatile and experienced producer who has worked with the National Desk, pursuing big, breaking news on short notice. For instance, she traveled to Puerto Rico for Hurricane Maria in 2018 and, just last month, to cover the political activism that forced Gov. Ricardo Rossello from office. She also produced WATC's show from the island. Liz came to the network as an Arts Desk intern in 2010, and she's produced — in both temp and full-time positions — for all of NPR's news magazines. Most recently, at WATC, Liz has produced and directed the live broadcast of the show, shaping the sound of the program, and handled all books coverage. Liz is an avid rock climber and a classically trained violinist. We welcome her to the desk and to NPR West.

National Correspondent Kirk Siegler, who has spent the past few years covering the rural/urban divide for NPR, will continue that work from Boise, Idaho. Kirk has told a broad range of compelling stories about the challenges and changes unfolding in rural towns across the West and beyond. In addition, Kirk regularly covers breaking news for the network. As an outgrowth of that work, he embarked on a months-long series focused on the recovery of Paradise, Calif., after wildfires destroyed the town. Kirk will be based at Boise State Public Radio. He's an avid skier and is looking forward to being near great slopes.

Launching from her base in Las Vegas, National Correspondent Leila Fadel has covered breaking news while also reporting on diversity in America, with particular emphases on Islam and LGBT issues. Leila will relocate to NPR West next month. She'll continue her beat coverage, as well as fill-in hosting for our news magazines. Leila won back-to-back Murrow awards for coverage of the 2017 Las Vegas mass shooting and for the 2018 Southern California fires. Last year, in partnership with National Geographic, she reported the extensive series Muslims in America: A New Generation, which appears on all NPR platforms, as well as in National Geographic magazine. Leila is looking forward to working in an office, something she has not done since joining NPR.