Kelly McEvers

After many years in the Middle East, Kelly McEvers is back home and working as a national correspondent based at NPR West. She previously ran NPR's Beirut bureau, where she earned a George Foster Peabody award, an Alfred I. DuPont-Columbia award, a Gracie award, and an Overseas Press Club mention for her 2012 coverage of the Syrian conflict. She recently made a radio documentary about being a war correspondent with renowned radio producer Jay Allison of Transom.org.

In 2011, she traveled undercover to follow Arab uprisings in places where brutal crackdowns followed the early euphoria of protests. She has been tear-gassed in Bahrain; she has spent a night in a tent city with a Yemeni woman who would later share the Nobel Peace Prize; and she spent weeks inside Syria with anti-government rebels known as the Free Syrian Army.

In Iraq, she covered the final withdrawal of U.S. troops and the political chaos that gripped the country afterward. Before arriving in Iraq in 2010, McEvers was one of the first Western correspondents to be based, full-time, in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia.

In 2008 and 2009, McEvers was part of a team that produced the award-winning "Working" series for American Public Media's business and finance show, Marketplace. She profiled a war fixer in Beirut, a smuggler in Dubai, a sex-worker in Baku, a pirate in the Strait of Malacca and a marriage broker in Vietnam.

She previously covered the former Soviet Union and Southeast Asia as a freelancer for NPR and other outlets. She started her journalism career in 1997 at the Chicago Tribune, where she worked as a metro reporter and documented the lives of female gang members for the Sunday magazine.

Her writing also has appeared in The New York Times Magazine, Esquire, Foreign Policy, The New Republic, The New York Review of Books, The Washington Monthly, Slate and the San Francisco Chronicle. Her work has aired on This American Life, The World, and the BBC. She's taught radio and journalism in the U.S. and abroad.

She lives with her family in California, where she's still very bad at surfing.

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Men In America
3:52 pm
Wed July 9, 2014

On Calif. Cattle Ranch, Students Wrangle With Meaning Of Manhood

Originally published on Wed July 9, 2014 8:39 pm

For All Things Considered's "Men in America" series, NPR's Kelly McEvers sent this report on Deep Springs College — the all-male college that her husband attended, and where he and McEvers have both taught.

About a hundred years ago, a man named L.L. Nunn was building power plants in the American West. He wanted a place where workers could be educated — and educated people could do work.

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The Two-Way
2:00 pm
Tue July 1, 2014

Pentagon Decides To Dig Up Remains Of Long-Lost Soldier

Originally published on Tue July 1, 2014 2:48 pm

After years of refusing to act, the U.S. military has decided to disinter the possible grave of Pvt. Arthur "Bud" Kelder, a POW from World War II who is buried anonymously in an American war cemetery in the Philippines.

Military officials also plan to disinter the remains of 10 other men in the same unmarked grave, says Navy Cmdr. Amy Derrick-Frost, a Defense Department spokeswoman. Derrick-Frost did not say what led the Pentagon to change its stance.

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Economy
3:08 am
Fri June 6, 2014

Farm Workers' Low Wages Hinder San Joaquin Valley's Economy

Originally published on Fri June 6, 2014 9:09 am

Transcript

DAVID GREENE, HOST:

OK, that's the national picture. Let's zoom in on a region that stands out for its high unemployment, Central California's San Joaquin Valley. NPR's Kelly McEvers went to find out why it's so hard to get a job amid some of the most productive farmland on earth.

(SOUNDBITE OF PHONE RINGING)

UNIDENTIFIED MAN 1: Employment Development Department, work force services.

KELLY MCEVERS, BYLINE: It's first thing in the morning. And people are calling and lining up to sign up for unemployment benefits and look for jobs.

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Politics
3:11 am
Mon June 2, 2014

17 Primary Candidates Vie For Rep. Henry Waxman's Seat

Originally published on Mon June 2, 2014 5:48 am

When the Democrat from Southern California announced his retirement earlier this year, he opened up a seat that had been occupied for decades. The top-two vote getters will face off in November.

Law
1:31 am
Thu May 22, 2014

Albuquerque Police Face Federal Scrutiny, Local Outrage

Kenneth Ellis II and family members of people shot by Albuquerque police officers hold a news conference on May 8.
Juan Antonio Labreche AP

Originally published on Thu May 22, 2014 7:40 am

Kenneth Ellis III was shot and killed by police in a 7-Eleven parking lot in Albuquerque, N.M.

He is among the dozens of people local police have shot over the last four years, 25 of whom have died. The U.S. Department of Justice issued a scathing report in April saying Albuquerque police have a pattern of excessive force that violates the Constitution.

Investigations and policy changes are in the works, while families of those who have been shot argue more needs to be done.

Building Cases

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Economy
4:12 am
Wed April 30, 2014

Why Is A French Economist's 700-Page Book So Popular?

Originally published on Wed May 7, 2014 10:22 pm

French economist Thomas Piketty's book, Capital in the Twenty-First Century, has become a sensation. He's been all over the media, and he's lecturing to packed houses on his current U.S. tour.

News
2:13 pm
Mon March 31, 2014

Hoping To Slim POW-MIA Bureaucracy, Hagel Makes One Out Of Two

Originally published on Tue April 1, 2014 10:08 am

Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel announced the creation of a new defense agency charged with merging the multiple divisions currently responsible for finding and identifying the more than 80,000 members missing from past conflicts. A five-month investigation by NPR and the independent news agency ProPublica had found the U.S. recovery effort to be slow, inefficient and stymied by outdated methods.

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Economy
5:30 am
Tue December 24, 2013

Thousands Fall From Middle Class After RV Industry Collapse

Originally published on Wed December 25, 2013 5:24 am

Transcript

DAVID GREENE, HOST:

We're going to take a close look, now, at the human cost when an industry shuts down. Oregon has kept detailed records on what happened to thousands of people who lost their jobs when the state's RV manufacturing industry imploded during the recession. Since then, many workers dropped from middle wage to low wage earners, a trend playing out across the United States. Some fared even worse. NPR's Kelly McEvers when to Oregon to meet the people behind the numbers.

BRADLEY WARING: Entering Junction City, 5,460 people.

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Reporter's Notebook
1:04 am
Tue November 12, 2013

Dwindling Middle Class Has Repercussions For Small Towns

When reporter Kelly McEvers stepped off the train in Lincoln, Ill., she asked, "What happened to my hometown?"
Kelly McEvers NPR

Originally published on Wed November 13, 2013 12:23 pm

My parents moved away from Lincoln, Ill., two decades ago, when I was in college. I hardly ever get back there. But my mom still works in Lincoln, and it was to Lincoln I headed to meet her this fall, after returning to the U.S. from the Middle East.

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The Salt
4:44 pm
Tue August 13, 2013

In Iraq, Laying Claim To The Kebab

Many different Middle Eastern cultures claim to have invented the kebab.
iStockphoto.com

Originally published on Tue August 13, 2013 7:54 pm

When you hear the word "kebab" in America, you might think of skewers with chunks of chicken or beef and vegetables, marinated and grilled on coals or gas. But say "kebab" in the Middle East, and it means a lot of things — chunks of lamb or liver on skewers, or the more popular version of grilled ground meat logs found in Turkey, Iran and much of the Arab world.

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Parallels
1:19 am
Thu July 18, 2013

Al-Jazeera Under Fire For Its Coverage Of Egypt

Posters in Cairo show Al-Jazeera's logo in red with a bloody hand scratching at it. A bullet can kill a man, the poster says, but a lying camera can kill a nation.
Kelly McEvers NPR

Originally published on Thu July 18, 2013 5:45 am

The past two weeks in Egypt have been a real test for the TV network Al-Jazeera. Accusations that the network is biased toward the Muslim Brotherhood and ousted Egyptian President Mohammed Morsi have resulted in arrests, threats and resignations.

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News
5:16 am
Sat July 13, 2013

Ramadan Takes Political Tinge In Egypt

Originally published on Wed July 17, 2013 2:08 pm

Transcript

SCOTT SIMON, HOST:

It's the holy month of Ramadan, usually a time of reflection, prayer and solidarity with fellow Muslims. But this Ramadan, Egypt is divided. The ouster of former president, Mohamed Morsi of the Muslim Brotherhood earlier this month and his current detention by Egyptian security forces, has polarized the country. NPR's Kelly McEvers spent last night in the streets of Cairo as pro-Morsi and anti-Morsi camps broke the fast outdoors and took to the streets in protest.

(SOUNDBITE OF STREET SOUNDS)

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NPR Story
2:45 pm
Tue July 9, 2013

Syrian Conflict Continues Violent Spillover Into Lebanon

Originally published on Sun July 14, 2013 6:13 am

Transcript

AUDIE CORNISH, HOST:

A bomb placed in a parked car caused a massive explosion in Beirut today that injured dozens of people. Later, a Syrian rebel group claimed responsibility for the blast.

NPR's Kelly McEvers was at the scene of the attack. She sent this report on how the Syrian conflict is spilling over into Lebanon.

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Parallels
6:08 am
Sat June 29, 2013

War Correspondent's Unflinching 'Diary Of A Bad Year'

A Syrian woman is evacuated after being wounded in shelling by regime forces in the Shaar neighborhood of the northern Syrian city of Aleppo, on Oct. 13, 2012.
Fabio Bucciarelli AFP/Getty Images

Originally published on Mon July 1, 2013 9:50 pm

  • Listen to Kelly McEvers' Hourlong Documentary

NPR's Kelly McEvers struggled with intense, unexpected emotions during the Arab Spring, when friends were being kidnapped and worse. It made her wonder, why do otherwise intelligent people risk their lives to report on conflicts?

In early 2011, I started seeing things in slow motion. I cried unpredictably. It was the time of the Arab uprisings. Colleagues and friends were getting kidnapped. Some were getting killed.

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Middle East
4:05 pm
Tue June 25, 2013

Dozens Dead After Clashes With Radical Cleric In Lebanon

Originally published on Wed July 3, 2013 11:46 am

Transcript

AUDIE CORNISH, HOST:

You're listening to ALL THINGS CONSIDERED from NPR News.

Calm has been restored in southern Lebanon for now. Clashes between the army and followers of a radical Sunni cleric have left dozens dead over the past two days. It's been called the most violent spillover from the conflict in Syria to a neighboring country. And now, a manhunt is under way for that cleric, Ahmed al-Assir.

NPR's Kelly McEvers traveled from Beirut to the scene of the violence today in Sidon, also known as Saida in Arabic.

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World
2:03 pm
Mon April 8, 2013

A Close-Up Of Syria's Alawites, Loyalists Of A Troubled Regime

Director Nidal Hassan spent a year filming in Tartous, a Syrian beach town made up mostly of Alawites who still support embattled President Bashar Assad.
Khaled Al-Hariri Reuters/Landov

Originally published on Mon April 8, 2013 7:59 pm

The film on Syria's Alawite community isn't finished yet, but filmmaker Nidal Hassan's favorite scenes are beginning to take shape.

It opens with fireworks on New Year's Eve in Tartous, Syria. "May God preserve the president for us," one young man yells in a reference to Syrian leader Bashar Assad.

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Middle East
3:03 pm
Tue April 2, 2013

Members Of Assad's Sect Break Ranks With Syrian Regime

A Syrian woman walks past a poster for President Bashar Assad in an Alawite-dominated neighborhood in the western city of Homs, on Jan. 11, 2012. Support among the president's own minority sect is waning.
Joseph Eid AFP/Getty Images

Originally published on Tue April 2, 2013 7:56 pm

The Alawites of Syria were a poor, little-known Shiite minority until longtime dictator Hafez Assad, a member of the sect, rose to power in 1970. His son, President Bashar Assad, is now fighting to maintain that power in a country that has risen up against him. Now, even some Syrian Alawites say they are willing to denounce the regime, despite the risks.

A recent gathering in Cairo was much like other conferences hosted by the Syrian opposition — a flurry of activity in the hotel lobby, late-night conversations and lots of cigarettes.

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Iraq
12:58 am
Fri March 22, 2013

Revisiting Iraq: A Sister On The Edge

Originally published on Fri March 22, 2013 8:24 pm

It's been 10 years since the U.S. invaded Iraq. This week we're taking a look back, revisiting voices you first heard on NPR in 2007. We brought you the story of two sisters who had lost their parents. The older sister wore conservative clothes and recited poetry. The younger sister, just 13 at the time, appeared on the verge of becoming a prostitute.

Like so many stories in Iraq, especially sensitive ones involving shame and sex, this story has to be peeled away in layers, like an onion.

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Middle East
4:21 pm
Thu March 21, 2013

Face To Face With Death In Iraq

Residents visit the tomb of a loved one at the New Kerbala cemetery in the holy city of Kerbala, Iraq, in 2007.
Mushtaq Muhammad Reuters /Landov

On the 10th anniversary of the U.S. invasion of Iraq, NPR is catching up with some of the people we encountered during the war. In 2006, at the height of the violence, we brought you the story of a woman who performed the Muslim ritual of washing and preparing the dead for burial. Kelly McEvers has this update on Um Abbas, who is now living in southern Iraq.

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Iraq
2:43 am
Tue March 19, 2013

1 Decade Since The War, Where Iraq Stands Now

An Iraqi policeman stands guard at a checkpoint decorated with plastic flowers in Baghdad in 2008.
Ali Yussef AFP/Getty Images

Originally published on Tue March 19, 2013 10:00 am

Ten years after the U.S.-led war in Iraq, NPR is looking at where the country stands now. NPR's Kelly McEvers recently visited Baghdad and offered this take on how the Iraqi capital feels today.

I think the single word that would best describe Baghdad these days is traffic. It can take hours just to get from one place to another. And I guess that's both good and bad.

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Iraq
3:14 am
Sat March 16, 2013

Letters To My Dead Father

Guffran, 16, sits on the floor of her home, holding a letter she wrote to her father. A Shiite Muslim, Guffran's father was gunned down on the streets of Baghdad in 2006.
Kelly McEvers NPR

Originally published on Sat March 16, 2013 5:46 am

Ten years after the U.S. invaded Iraq, NPR is taking a look back, revisiting people and places first encountered during the war. In 2006, NPR aired a story about a 9-year-old girl who loved her father so much, she wrote him letters to take to work with him. Even after he died, in a carjacking that appeared to have a sectarian motive, she still wrote to him.

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The Two-Way
10:23 am
Sat March 9, 2013

A Chat With A Radical Fighter In Syria

Members of Jabhat al-Nusra clean their weapons, in Aleppo in December. The Islamist rebel group has become an increasingly powerful force in Syria's civil war.
Ahmed Jadallah Reuters /Landov

Originally published on Mon March 11, 2013 4:51 am

The Islamist rebel group Jabhat al-Nusra has been secretive, keeping to itself and refusing to meet Western journalists. The group has been designated a terrorist organization by the Obama administration and was thought to be made up mostly of foreign fighters, working alongside Syrian rebels.

But lately, members are starting to open up as more Syrians join the group and they make more gains on the ground in the fight against the Syrian government.

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Middle East
2:39 am
Fri March 8, 2013

Displaced Syrians Bring Life To Ancient 'Dead Cities'

The Syrian "Dead City" of Shanshrah, in northern Idlib province. A U.N. World Heritage site, the Dead Cities of northern Syria date back to the first to fifth centuries.
Kelly McEvers NPR

Originally published on Fri March 8, 2013 8:41 pm

Parts of the northern Syrian province of Idlib are a U.N. World Heritage site, known for its ancient archaeological wonders. Walking along muddy, rocky ground covered in new grass and wild daffodils, we start to see remnants of Roman structures — the columns and doorways of dwellings, temples and churches that date back to the 1st century.

They're known as the Dead Cities, and they trace the transition from ancient pagan Rome to Christian Byzantium. Until recently, they were deserted, frozen in time.

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Middle East
2:43 pm
Mon March 4, 2013

'Conscience' of Syrian Revolution Faces Challenge from Islamists

Islamists from Jabhat al Nusra stage their own protest in the town. Until recently, the group has been reluctant to appear in public.
NPR

Originally published on Mon March 4, 2013 4:00 pm

Kafr Nabl is surrounded by rocky hills covered with olive and fig trees. Located in northwest Syria near the Turkish border, it used to be a sleepy town of about 30,000 people. Then it rose up against the government in early 2011. More than a year later, the town was "liberated" by anti-government rebels who forced out soldiers and police who worked for the government.

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Middle East
12:46 pm
Fri February 15, 2013

Conflict Transforms Syrian English Teacher Into War Photographer

Nour Kelze, a 25-year-old from Aleppo, Syria, was teaching English at a private school when the uprising started two years ago. Since then, she has learned to be a war photographer and has been sending photos to the Reuters news agency.
Stephanie Freid Courtesy of Nour Kelze

Originally published on Thu February 21, 2013 11:33 am

Syria's war has thrown ordinary citizens into situations they never could have imagined and changed them in ways they never would have dreamed. It's turned carpenters, engineers and doctors into armed rebels. And in Aleppo, it has turned a young female teacher into a war photographer.

We first met Nour Kelze back in October, on our first trip to Aleppo. We asked her to work with us as an interpreter. She agreed but said she also would be shooting pictures.

Kelze, 25, had been teaching English and only recently became a war photographer.

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Middle East
3:38 am
Mon February 4, 2013

Syrian Opposition Leader Holds Talks With Russia, Iran

Originally published on Sun February 10, 2013 6:47 am

Transcript

RENEE MONTAGNE, HOST:

This is MORNING EDITION from NPR News. I'm Renee Montagne.

DAVID GREENE, HOST:

And I'm David Greene.

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The Salt
4:29 pm
Wed January 16, 2013

Jihadi Fighters Win Hearts And Minds By Easing Syria's Bread Crisis

A man makes bread as residents, background, stand in line in front of a bakery during heavy fighting between Free Syrian Army fighters and government forces in Aleppo, Syria, on Dec. 4, 2012.
Narciso Contreras Associated Press

Originally published on Fri January 18, 2013 5:16 am

In Syria, the staple of most meals is a thin, round, flat bread that we would probably call pita.

Back in November, as fierce fighting raged across Syria, people started to run out of this bread. Government forces were attacking bakeries in rebel-held areas and cutting off electricity so mills couldn't grind flour. By late last year, Syrians were desperate.

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Middle East
12:04 am
Wed January 16, 2013

For Those Still In Syria, A Daily Struggle

A family crosses a street piled with rubbish in Aleppo, Syria, on Jan. 5.
Andoni Lubaki AP

Originally published on Wed January 16, 2013 6:16 pm

The situation for Syrian refugees is getting dire. Much has been reported about the worsening conditions for hundreds of thousands of Syrians taking up shelter just outside the country's borders, but inside Syria, the numbers are even higher. The United Nations says some 2 million people have been displaced from their homes in Syria, and most of them end up squatting in mosques and schools. NPR's Kelly McEvers spent a night in one of those schools, in Syria's largest city, Aleppo, and sent this report.

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The Two-Way
9:38 am
Tue January 15, 2013

In War-Torn Aleppo, Old Doors That Reflect A Grand Tradition

Syria door
Kelly McEvers NPR

Originally published on Tue January 15, 2013 10:37 am

Aleppo's storied old city, which dates to the 12th century, has suffered much in the fighting between Syrian government forces and rebels over the past few months. But parts of the city remain intact, as I saw on a recent walk through the winding, stone alleys on the way to the front line.

Centuries ago, it took Muslims from this area months in a caravan to make the pilgrimage, or hajj, to Mecca, the holiest site in Islam, which is now part of Saudi Arabia.

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Middle East
3:13 pm
Tue January 8, 2013

A Welcoming Way Station For Syrians Fleeing Home

Beit Qamishlo is a modest house in southern Turkey that caters to Syrian exiles seeking temporary refuge. It also hosts frequent discussions on Syria's future. Here, Malik Dagestani (center), a former political prisoner in Syria, talks about his detention in the 1980s and 1990s.
Kelly McEvers NPR

Originally published on Tue January 8, 2013 4:37 pm

It's called Beit Qamishlo, or the House of Qamishlo. It's named after a city in northeastern Syria, though the house isn't even in Syria — it's just across the border in southern Turkey.

The house is humble, made of concrete blocks, with tile floors. Arabic slogans are taped on the walls: "Beit Qamishlo is a house for everyone," "It's a window to Syria's future," "Under one roof we plant life together and freedom."

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