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Margot Williams is a NPR News Investigations database correspondent. Along with her reporting, Williams works behind the scenes compiling, mining and analyzing data for investigative reports, ferreting for information, and connecting the dots.
Since joining NPR in October 2010, Williams has helped examine the massive trove of secret documents about the Guantanamo Bay detainees. Williams and NPR collaborated with The New York Times to provide an assessment of the reports which were leaked to the anti-secrecy website WikiLeaks. In addition, Williams worked with NPR Justice Correspondent Carrie Johnson to investigate the U.S. Bureau of Prisons Communications Management Unit for convicted terrorists. The NPR Investigation identified 86 of the more than 100 men for the first time; most are Muslims and have lived in the special units often called "Guantanamo North."
For five years prior to NPR, Williams worked as the database research editor and on the computer assisted reporting team at The New York Times. She spent 14 years at The Washington Post in several different positions including: research editor, library director, metro news resource director, and wrote for The Post's "Networkings" column. From 1998-90, Williams was the library director for the Poughkeepsie Journal.
Over the course of her career Williams has received a number of accolades and honors. In 2004, she was awarded first place for Explanatory Journalism on Major League Baseball from the Associated Press Sports Editors. Williams worked on the team that earned the 2001 Pulitzer Prize for National Affairs for The Washington Post's coverage of 9/11 aftermath and terrorism. She contributed to The Post's 1999 Pulitzer Prize Public Service Award for work on the investigative project "Deadly Force". In 1999, she was awarded Best of Show from the Maryland-Delaware-DC Press Association. Williams was awarded first place in Business/Economics from the Maryland-Delaware-DC Press Association in 1989.
A frequent speaker and educator at journalism conferences, seminars and graduate programs, Williams has participated in Global Investigative Journalism, Investigative Reporters & Editor and the Poynter Institute, among many others. Williams first book, Cuba from Columbus to Castro, was released in 1981 by Simon & Schuster. Most recently, in 1999, she co-wrote with Nora Paul, Great Scouts! CyberGuides for Subject Searching on the Web, published by Cyberage books.
Williams earned a Master of Science degree in library and information science from Pratt Institute in Brooklyn, NY, and a Bachelor of Arts degree in Asian studies from The City College of New York.
Daniel Zwerdling is a correspondent in NPR's Investigations Unit.
With acclaimed investigative and documentary reports appearing on all of NPR's major news shows, Zwerdling's stories have repeatedly attracted national attention and generated national action. Over the past few years, Zwerdling's series on the domestic impact of the wars has revealed that many military commanders, from the Pentagon to platoons, have neglected and mistreated troops who come home with serious mental health disorders such as post traumatic stress disorder – even kicking them out of the Army. He revealed (in collaboration with T. Christian Miller of ProPublica) that the military failed to diagnose and treat tens of thousands of troops with traumatic brain injuries from explosions. Some of those stories have prompted Congressional investigations of major army bases, Senate hearings and other investigations.
In late 2004, Zwerdling revealed that the Department of Homeland Security had been detaining immigrants in harsh conditions in jails across the United States. The day after Zwerdling reported that guards at one jail were using attack dogs to terrorize non-citizens, the Bush administration banned the use of dogs around detainees. And after he exposed another jail where guards beat detainees while a group of other guards watched, the jail announced that it would discipline almost a dozen employees.
In 1986, Zwerdling and NPR's Howard Berkes broke the story revealing that NASA officials launched the ill-fated space shuttle Challenger despite warnings that it might explode, as it eventually did. Their stories helped shape the course of the federal investigation into the tragedy. Zwerdling's investigative series on the then-best-selling pesticide Chlordane revealed that the chemical was poisoning people and forcing them to abandon their homes. The stories prompted the manufacturer to remove the chemical from the market at the urging of the Environmental Protection Agency.
Zwerdling has won the most prestigious awards in broadcasting, including the DuPont, Peabody, Polk, Edward R. Murrow, Investigative Reporters and Editors, the Robert F. Kennedy and DART awards for investigative reporting. He won the Overseas Press Club Foundation award for live coverage of breaking international news, the American Association for the Advancement of Science Journalism Award, the National Press Club Award for consumer reporting, the Ohio State awards for international reporting, the James Beard award for reporting on the food industry, and the Champion-Tuck Award for economic reporting.
From 2002 to 2004, he was NPR's television correspondent on PBS' NOW with Bill Moyers, on PBS. Prior to his television work, Zwerdling was senior host of NPR's Weekend All Things Considered, a post he held from 1993-1999. For more than a decade, Zwerdling covered environmental, health, science, and Third World development issues as an investigative reporter for NPR News. He was based in Nairobi, Kenya for several of those years as he examined nations struggling to develop across Africa and South Asia.
Before joining NPR in 1980, Zwerdling worked as a staff writer at The New Republic and as a freelance reporter. His work appeared in national publications such as The Washington Post, The Los Angeles Times, and The New York Review of Books. His groundbreaking articles in the early 1970s, suggesting that the typical American diet contributed to cancer and heart disease, incurred the wrath of the medical and food industry and establishments. When Zwerdling reported that successful commercial farmers in the United States and Europe had stopped using chemicals and were farming organically, the pesticide industry lambasted him, but the U.S. Department of Agriculture launched an investigation that confirmed his findings.
Zwerdling has served as an adjunct professor of Media Ethics in the communications department at American University in Washington, D.C., and as an associate of the Bard College Institute for Language and Thinking in New York. His book, Workplace Democracy (Harper & Row, 1980), is still used in colleges across the country. He also contributes occasionally to Gourmet.