From Neil Best's Desk: NPR's Collaborative Coverage Is No Accident
Covering breaking news from halfway around the world is a challenge. Efforts are made to plan ahead for coverage but that's not always possible. The recent earthquakes in Nepal graphically illustrate how quality planning - and sometimes good luck - play a part in the coverage we hear and see.
The planning part comes from NPR's commitment to maintaining 17 foreign bureaus around the world, from Rome, to Islamabad, to Nairobi. An understanding of the region develops from being immersed in the nuances of the area. Reporters are close by and are able to be on location in short order. We sometimes call this "boots on the ground."
The head of the NPR bureau in New Delhi is Julie McCarthy. For more than 20 years she has worked for NPR in many different parts of the world giving her an incredible background and an awareness of different regions, including the country of Nepal. From her base in India, Julie has traveled to and reported from Nepal in the past year. It also meant that when the earthquakes shook Katmandu and the surrounding region, she was able to arrive quickly and become the eyes and ears for us as listeners.
Luck can be fortuitous too. Former KUNC reporter Kirk Siegler now works for NPR and is often heard from faraway places. He tells me that he always has in his car two bags: The first packed with electronic reporting equipment and the second with clothing, toiletries, etc. It can, and has happened, that he is on his way to the office and is diverted directly to catch a flight to a breaking story someplace.
In the case of Kirk's earthquake coverage, he was on his way to Nepal as part of the International Reporting Project, where he is a 2015 Fellow. On a layover in Hong Kong he was alerted to the news of the earthquake and directed to get to Katmandu. He was able to get on one of the first commercial flights into the airport at Katmandu when it reopened.
Through planning (the New Delhi bureau) and luck (Kirk's schedule) NPR was able to provide quality coverage in the immediate aftermath of the earthquakes. Now Kirk is returning to the United States (having traveled through all the world's time zones in just nine days). Meanwhile, Julie will continue to update us on the rebuilding efforts in Nepal.
We are fortunate to have such dedicated reporters, along with the editors and producers who support them, bringing the world to our radios and screens. We are also fortunate to have your membership. Without members, planning or luck wouldn't happen.
President & CEO