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NPR News correspondent coming to GCC

GREENFIELD — Howard Berkes, National Public Radio’s rural affairs correspondent, will speak at Greenfield Community College on Sept. 26 in a 2 p.m. presentation that is part of the college’s Humanities Visiting Speakers Series and is sponsored by the GCC President’s Office.

The event, in Stinchfield Lecture Hall, is free and open to the public.

Joining Berkes in the multi-media presentation, “The NPR Way — Reporting and Editing the Rural Beat,” will be the network’s Northeast bureau chief, Andrea de Leon.

Berkes and de Leon will discuss how NPR’s rural affairs coverage began and why it’s important to the network.

They will share highlights from the past decade, including a Maine series on pure democracy and the rural poll presidential election series. Berkes will also talk about covering the Upper Big Branch mine disaster in West Virginia in 2010, and his recent special report “Buried in Grain,” which examined the dangers of grain-bin entrapments and the weak regulatory response to these incidents.

De Leon will share the challenges of acquiring stories from the country’s most remote and least populated places, and talk about NPR’s commitment to partnerships with member stations like New England Public Radio to help share the stories coming out of rural America with the nation.

Berkes has been NPR’s rural affairs correspondent since March 2003, focusing on the politics, economics and culture of rural America. Based in Salt Lake City, he reports on stories that are often unique to nonurban communities or provide a rural perspective on major issues and events. In 2005, he was part of the NPR reporting team that covered Hurricane Katrina.

Berkes’ reporting also includes the impact of the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq on military families and service men and women from rural America. During multiple presidential and congressional campaigns, Berkes has covered the impact of rural voters on those races. In his long career at NPR he has covered Native American issues, the militia movement, neo-nazi groups, nuclear waste, the Unabomber case, the Montana Freemen standoff, polygamy, western water issues and seven Olympic games.

De Leon works with station and freelance reporters from 11 Northeastern states to bring in new stories for NPR’s daily news programs, Morning Edition, All Things Considered and the weekend versions of those shows. She also provides training for reporters. Before joining NPR in 1999, she was the News Director at Maine Public Radio and a frequent contributor to the NPR news magazines. Though she works for NPR, she still works out of her house in Maine.

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