Everett McKinley Dirksen Award for Distinguished Reporting of Congress
David Welna 2011
David Welna has been NPR’s congressional correspondent since the final days of the Clinton administration. Primarily following the Senate, Welna reports on many issues he covered earlier in his career reporting both inside and outside of the United States, in addition to covering the September 11, 2001 attacks, the wars that followed, and the economic downturn and recession. Prior to this position Welna covered the 2000 presidential election and the post-election vote count battle in Florida.
In mid-1998, after 15 years of reporting from abroad for NPR, David Welna joined NPR’s Chicago bureau. During that posting, he reported on a wide range of issues: changes in Midwestern agriculture that are putting pressures on small farmers, how foreign conflicts and economic crises affect people in the heartland, and efforts to improve public education. His background in Latin America informed his coverage of the saga of Elian Gonzalez both in Miami and Cuba.
Welna first filed stories for NPR as a freelancer in 1982, based in Buenos Aires. From there, and subsequently from Rio de Janeiro, he covered events throughout South America. In 1995 Welna became the chief of NPR’s Mexico bureau.
Additionally, he has reported for the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation, The Financial Times, and The Times of London. Welna’s photography has appeared in Esquire, The New York Times, The Paris Review, and The Philadelphia Inquirer.
Covering a wide range of stories in Latin America, Welna chronicled the wrenching 1985 trial of Argentina’s former military leaders who presided over the disappearance of tens of thousands of suspected dissidents. In Brazil, he visited a town in Sao Paulo state called Americana where former slaveholders from America relocated after the Civil War. Welna covered the 1992 United Nations Earth Summit in Rio de Janeiro, the mass exodus of Cubans who fled the island on rafts in 1994, the Zapatista uprising in Chiapas, Mexico, and the US intervention in Haiti to restore Jean Bertrand Aristide to Haiti’s presidency.
In 1995, Welna was awarded an Overseas Press Club award for his coverage of Haiti. During that same year he was chosen by the Latin American Studies Association to receive their annual award for distinguished coverage of Latin America. Welna was awarded a 1997 Nieman Fellowship at Harvard University. In 2002, Welna was elected by his colleagues to a two-year term as a member of the Executive Committee of the Congressional Radio-Television Correspondents’ Galleries.
A native of Minnesota, Welna graduated magna cum laude from Carleton College in Northfield, MN, with a Bachelor of Arts and distinction in Latin American Studies. He speaks fluent Spanish, French, and Portuguese.