Debbie Elliott

After a stint on Capitol Hill, NPR National Correspondent Debbie Elliott is back covering the news in her native South.

Based in Alabama, Elliott's reporting has ranged from hurricanes and oil spills to industry and politics. Her coverage of the BP oil spill in 2010 and its aftermath focus on the human impact of the spill, the government’s response and the region’s recovery. In 2010, she launched a series on Morning Edition and All Things Considered, “The Disappearing Coast,” which examines the history and culture of south Louisiana, the state’s complicated relationship with the oil and gas industry and the oil spill’s lasting impact on a fragile coastline.

Elliott has covered the efforts to rebuild after Hurricane Katrina and the other storms that have hit the coast. She also tracks what the economic downturn means for states and municipalities, and whether the federal stimulus package is helping. In Elliott’s political reporting, she watches vulnerable Congressional seats and follows southern governors who have higher political aspirations.

While based in Washington, D.C., Elliott covered Congress and was part of NPR’s 2008 election team. She co-hosted late election night returns, reported live from the floor of the Democratic National Convention in Denver and broadcast from the grounds of the US Capitol during the Inauguration of President Barack Obama.

Elliott is a former weekend host of NPR's All Things Considered. In that role she interviewed a variety of luminaries and world leaders, including Archbishop Desmond Tutu and Liberian President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf. She celebrated the 40th Anniversary of “Alice’s Restaurant” with Arlo Guthrie, and mixed it up on the rink with the Baltimore’s Charm City Roller Girls. She profiled the late historian John Hope Franklin and the children's book author Eric Carle.

Since joining NPR in 1995, Elliott has covered the re-opening of Civil Rights-era murder cases, the legal battle over displaying the Ten Commandments in courthouses, the Elian Gonzales custody dispute from Miami, and a number of hurricanes, from Andrew to Katrina. On Election night in 2000, Elliott was stationed in Tallahassee, Fla., and was one of the first national reporters on the scene for the contentious presidential election contest that followed. She has covered landmark smoker lawsuits, the tobacco settlement with states, the latest trends in youth smoking and tobacco-control policy and regulation. She’s been to a Super Bowl, the Summer Olympics and baseball spring training.

Born in Atlanta, Elliott grew up in the Memphis area and graduated from the University of Alabama College of Communication. She’s the former news director of member station WUAL (now Alabama Public Radio).

Elliott lives in south Alabama with her husband and two children.

 

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3:20am

Tue November 25, 2014
Around the Nation

Plan To Use Gulf Oil Spill Funds For Beach Hotel Sparks Lawsuit

Originally published on Tue November 25, 2014 3:04 pm

The Alabama gulf coast is heavily developed with condo and hotel properties. Now the state wants to use Gulf Coast restoration funds to build a new beach hotel and conference center.
Debbie Elliott NPR

Money is flowing now to Gulf Coast states to remedy damage from the 2010 Deepwater Horizon oil rig explosion and subsequent spill. All kinds of projects are underway, from building boat ramps to shoring-up marshland.

They're being paid for with a $1 billion down payment BP made toward its ultimate responsibility to make the Gulf Coast whole, a figure estimated to be up to $18 billion.

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3:51pm

Fri October 31, 2014
Book News & Features

Spine-Tingling With A Twang: Great Alabama Ghost Stories

Originally published on Fri October 31, 2014 5:41 pm

This photo, taken at Katherine Tucker Windham's Selma house, shows reporter Nikki Davis Maute — and in the background, some say, the spirit the family calls Jeffrey.
University of Alabama Press

Halloween is a day for ghost stories, but if you're a skeptic, don't fret. As the late Alabama storyteller Kathryn Tucker Windham assured her listeners, tales of restless spirits are for everybody.

"I collect ghost stories," Windham said. "Now, the nice thing about ghost stories is that you don't have to believe in ghosts to enjoy hearing a good ghost story."

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3:43pm

Fri October 24, 2014
Politics

Alabama's Darius Foster Wants To Bring Back 'Fight For The People' GOP

Originally published on Fri October 24, 2014 6:34 pm

Darius Foster says he wants to challenge racial and political expectations. "With me, unfortunately, everything is black Republican. Not Darius did this, but the black Republican did that."
Debbie Elliott NPR

Republicans are trying to make inroads with African-Americans in the Deep South, who have voted overwhelmingly Democrat since the civil rights era. In Alabama, the GOP is fielding more black candidates this cycle than ever before. One of them is Darius Foster, who gained national attention with this viral video challenging racial and political expectations:

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2:46pm

Wed October 15, 2014
Politics

In Increasingly Red Louisiana, Democrat Landrieu Struggles To Hold On

Originally published on Wed October 15, 2014 6:13 pm

Sen. Mary Landrieu greets candidates Rep. Bill Cassidy (left) and Rob Maness after Tuesday's debate. Most observers don't see how Landrieu can pull enough support to avoid a runoff in the state's open primary.
Gerald Herbert AP

Listening to Sen. Mary Landrieu's opponents, you might think President Obama was up for re-election. Tuesday night in Shreveport, the three candidates faced off in a debate for the first time.

Democrat Landrieu is waging hard-fought battle for re-election in a race that could help decide which party has control of the U.S. Senate. Republican Rep. Bill Cassidy and a Tea Party candidate, Rob Maness, are her main challengers in Louisiana's open primary on Nov. 4.

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2:53am

Fri October 10, 2014
Art & Design

Reviving A Southern Industry, From Cotton Field To Clothing Rack

Originally published on Fri October 10, 2014 1:31 pm

Fashion designer Natalie Chanin stands in front of in-progress garments at the Alabama Chanin Factory. Chanin and Billy Reid, internationally acclaimed designers, have teamed up to test the concept of organic, sustainable cotton farming and garment-making.
Debbie Elliott NPR

You've probably heard of "farm to table," but how about "field to garment"? In Alabama, acclaimed fashion houses Alabama Chanin and Billy Reid have a new line of organic cotton clothing made from their own cotton field.

It's not just an experiment in keeping production local; it's an attempt to revive the long tradition of apparel-making in the Deep South. North Alabama was once a hub for textile manufacturing, with readily available cotton and access to cheap labor. But the industry all but disappeared after NAFTA became law, as operations moved overseas.

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