Eric Westervelt is a San Francisco-based correspondent for NPR's National Desk. He has reported on major events for the network from wars and revolutions in the Middle East and North Africa to historic wildfires and terrorist attacks in the U.S.
For a decade as a foreign correspondent, Westervelt served as NPR reporter and bureau chief in Baghdad, Jerusalem, and Berlin. He's covered the Pentagon, the war in Afghanistan, and the U.S. invasion and troubled occupation of Iraq, including the insurgency, sectarian violence, and the resulting social and political tumult.
He has reported on the ground from North Africa during revolutions there, including from Tahrir Square during fall of Egypt's Mubarak, the front lines during the civil war and NATO intervention in Libya, and the popular uprising in Tunisia. He's also reported from Yemen, the Arabian Gulf states, and the Horn of Africa, including Ethiopia, Djibouti, and the Somalia border region.
Westervelt was among the first western reporters to reach Baghdad during the 2003 U.S-led overthrow of Saddam Hussein embedded with the lead elements of the army's Third Infantry Division. He was also among the first western reporters to enter the Gaza Strip via Egypt during the 2008-2009 Israeli ground offensive in the coastal Palestinian enclave known as the Gaza War.
Westervelt has reported extensively across the U.S. on big stories and breaking news, from mass shootings to natural disasters and police use of force. He helped launch NPR's innovative, award-winning education platform NPR Ed, and serves as a guest host for NPR news shows.
Westervelt is currently helping to launch a collaborative team that covers America's criminal justice system, including issues and reform efforts surrounding prisons, policing, juvenile justice, and the courts.
He's been honored with broadcast journalism's highest honors, including the 2002 George Foster Peabody Award for coverage of the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks and the aftermath; the 2003 Alfred I. DuPont-Columbia University Award for coverage of Sept. 11 and the subsequent war in Afghanistan; and 2004 and 2007 DuPont-Columbia Awards for NPR's in-depth coverage of the war in Iraq and its effect on Iraqi society. Westervelt's 2009 multimedia series with the late NPR photojournalist David Gilkey won an Overseas Press Club Award. He also recently shared in an Edward R. Murrow RTNDA Award with NPR Ed for innovative education coverage.
In 2013, Westervelt returned to the U.S. from overseas as a visiting journalism fellow at Stanford University with the John S. Knight Journalism Fellowship
As Jerusalem bureau chief, Westervelt covered the failed diplomatic efforts to broker peace between Israel and the Palestinians, and the social, political, and cultural news across Israel and the occupied West Bank. He reported from the front lines of the 2006 war between Israel and Hezbollah known as the Second Lebanon War. He was on the ground for multiple Israeli-Hamas battles in the Gaza Strip and the Fatah-Hamas civil war and battle of Gaza City that led to the current political split within the Palestinian Authority.
While based in Berlin, Westervelt covered a broad range of news across the region, including the Euro debt crisis, the rise of far right nationalists, national elections, and more.
Prior to his Middle East assignments, Westervelt covered military affairs and the Pentagon out of Washington, DC, reporting on the major defense, national security, and foreign policy issues of the day. He began his work at NPR on the network's national desk where his coverage spanned the mass shooting at Columbine High School, the presidential vote recount following the 2000 election, and the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks reporting from the Ground Zero recovery in New York City, among many other stories.
On the lighter side, Westervelt also produces occasional features for NPR's Arts Desk, including for the series American Anthem, as well as Rock Hall Award profiles of blues great Freddie King and an exploration of roots rock pioneer Roy Orbison for NPR's 50 Great Voices series. His feature on the making of John Coltrane's jazz classic "A Love Supreme" was part of NPR's project on the most influential American musical works of the 20th century, which was recognized with a Peabody Award.
Before joining NPR, Westervelt worked as a reporter in Oregon and the Pacific Northwest, reported for the broadcast edition of the Christian Science Monitor, Monitor Radio, and worked as a news director and reporter in New Hampshire for NHPR.
Westervelt grew up in upstate New York. He's a graduate of the Putney School and received a Bachelor of Arts degree from Reed College. He was a recipient in 2013 of a J.S. Knight Fellowship at Stanford University.
Extreme weather fueled by climate change is straining the financial and human resources of emergency agencies and first responders, especially wildland firefighters across much of the West.
Firefighters in northern California are facing another tough day of strong winds as they race to try to stop the massive Caldor wildfire from reaching the southern end of iconic Lake Tahoe.
Extreme anger and rage are common traits among perpetrators of most mass shootings. Researchers are studying how they might preemptively manage that anger. One idea is creation of anger helplines.
The mass exodus comes at a delicate time for many communities large and small as violent crime is on the rise and recruitment remains difficult.
From the Great Plains to the California coast, a powerful "heat dome" is setting records. This one is stronger and bigger and is appearing earlier than normal.
Oregon's bold move to decriminalize small amounts of all hard drugs and expand treatment is now meeting the reality of implementation as the treatment community is divided over the way forward.
The city's fire department will oversee the pilot project that aims to pair an EMT with someone with lived experience in the mental health, addiction, criminal justice or homeless services systems.
After one of the most destructive and extreme wildfire seasons in modern history, Californians are bracing again. Widening drought is creating conditions even worse than last year.
Mario Gonzalez, 26, died in police custody on April 19. Body camera footage showed police pinning him to the ground for several minutes.
Body camera footage released of a northern California man who died after officers pinned him to the ground for five minutes has sparked outrage. His family wants the officers involved prosecuted.