Russell Lewis | KERA News

Russell Lewis

As NPR's Southern Bureau chief, Russell Lewis covers issues and people of the Southeast for NPR — from Florida to Virginia to Texas, including West Virginia, Kentucky, and Oklahoma. His work brings context and dimension to issues ranging from immigration, transportation, and oil and gas drilling for NPR listeners across the nation and around the world.

In addition to developing and expanding NPR's coverage of the region, Lewis assigns and edits stories from station-based reporters and freelancers that air on NPR's news programs, working closely with local correspondents and public radio stations. He spent a year in New Orleans after Hurricane Katrina, coordinating NPR's coverage of the massive rebuilding effort and the reverberations of the storm in local communities. He joined NPR in 2006 and is based in Birmingham, Alabama.

Lewis is also a key member of NPR's 'Go Team' — a small group of experienced NPR producers and reporters who respond to major disasters worldwide. He is often among the first on the scene for NPR — both reporting from these sites as well as managing the logistics of bringing additional NPR reporters into disaster areas that lack functioning transportation systems, basic utilities, food, water, and security.

He was dispatched to Haiti after the 2010 earthquake, where he helped manage a group of NPR journalists. He created an overland supply line for the NPR team between the Dominican Republic and Haiti and brought listeners stories about the slow pace of supply distribution because of border bottlenecks. In Japan in 2011, he was quickly on the scene after the earthquake and tsunami to help coordinate NPR's intensive coverage. In 2013, he was on the ground overseeing NPR's reporting in the Philippines in the aftermath of Super Typhoon Haiyan. Covering the impact of the massive earthquake in Nepal in 2015, he field-produced NPR's coverage and also reported how a lack of coordination by the government and aid workers slowed response. Lewis managed NPR's on-the-ground coverage in 2015 of the terrorist attacks in Paris, France, and reported from Brussels, Belgium. He returned to Brussels in 2016 after the terrorist bombings at the airport and metro station. He helped field-produce NPR's coverage and also reported several stories about the response and recovery. In 2018, he went to Indonesia to field-produce and edit coverage following the earthquake and tsunami in Palu.

Lewis also oversees NPR's sports coverage. He spent six weeks in Brazil in 2014 handling logistics and reporting on the World Cup. In 2015, he did the same in Canada for the Women's World Cup. In 2016, Lewis reported and oversaw NPR's team of journalists at the Summer Olympics in Rio de Janeiro. He also led NPR's coverage from Pyeongchang, South Korea, at the 2018 Winter Olympics.

In 2010, the Dart Center for Journalism and Trauma at Columbia University awarded him a prestigious Ochberg Fellowship. The Fellowship is designed to improve reporting on violence, conflict, and tragedy. Lewis has continued his work with the Dart Center and has trained reporters on behalf of the organization in Trinidad and Tobago, the Cayman Islands, and Puerto Rico.

A graduate of the University of Florida, Lewis began his public radio career in 1992 as reporter and executive producer at NPR member station WUFT in Gainesville, Florida. He also spent time at WSVH in Savannah, Georgia, and was Statehouse Bureau Chief at Kansas Public Radio. For six years he worked at KPBS in San Diego as a senior editor and reporter. He also was a talk show host and assistant news director at WGCU in Fort Myers, Florida.

When he's not busy at work, Lewis can be found being creative in the kitchen or outside refereeing soccer games.

Updated at 8:03 p.m. ET

After more than 120 years of flying over the state of Mississippi, the Confederate battle flag is no longer a part of the state's official flag.

On Tuesday, Republican Gov. Tate Reeves signed into law a bill fast-tracked by the Mississippi Legislature over the weekend that calls for a new design.

In a somber ceremony, Reeves said he was signing the law to turn a page in Mississippi.

Major League Baseball and its Players Association have reached an agreement to play a shortened season this year. The MLB Players Association made the announcement first via tweet.

In a subsequent news release, MLB Commissioner Rob Manfred said players will report to spring training on July 1 and the regular season is to begin either on July 23 or 24. Instead of the typical 162-game regular season, teams will play just 60 games.

The helicopter crash that killed basketball star Kobe Bryant and eight others in January has spurred action by Congress.

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Updated 8:36 p.m. ET

The U.S. Olympic and Paralympic Committee has endorsed a delay in the start of the 2020 games in Tokyo because of the spread of deadly coronavirus.

The U.S. committee released a statement saying it had polled athletes and concluded that "the enormous disruptions to the training environment, doping controls and qualification process can't be overcome in a satisfactory manner."

One of the astronauts who flew during the lunar program has died. Al Worden, 88, was a command module pilot who circled the moon during Apollo 15.

Updated at 11:21 p.m. ET

March Madness is going to be very different this year. The NCAA has decided both the men's and women's Division I basketball tournaments won't be played in front of fans. The energy. The excitement. The yelling. All gone. Thanks, coronavirus.

Updated at 1:10 p.m. ET Thursday

The NBA suspended its season Wednesday after a player on the Utah Jazz preliminarily tested positive for the coronavirus. The team announced Thursday that after testing the entire traveling team in follow-up, a second player has tested positive.

Katherine Johnson, a mathematician who was one of NASA's human "computers" and an unsung hero of the space agency's early days, died Monday. She calculated the flight path for America's first crewed space mission and moon landing, and she was among the women profiled in the book and movie Hidden Figures. She was 101.

Her death was announced by NASA Administrator Jim Bridenstine.

Federal investigators say the helicopter that crashed in Southern California last month killing NBA basketball star Kobe Bryant, his daughter and seven other people did not have an engine failure. The investigative update from the National Transportation Safety Board has not determined the cause of the crash. But it did give several new details.

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One of NASA's first employees, key to creating the U.S. space program, has died at 95. Chris Kraft was the agency's first flight director and managed all of the Mercury missions, as well some of the Gemini flights. He was a senior planner during the Apollo lunar program. Later he led the Johnson Space Center in Houston and oversaw development of the space shuttle.

The U.S. women's soccer team is still the world's best after dominating the Netherlands in the Women's World Cup final and winning 2-0. Throughout the tournament, the U.S. brushed aside criticism, complaints of arrogance and calls for the team to tone down their goal celebrations. All the team did was win. All seven World Cup games, in fact.

It was the battle of unbeatens at this Women's World Cup. Both teams were 5-0. The U.S. — the defending and three-time World Cup champion — and England — which was ranked third in the world but had never advanced past the semifinals. The game in Lyon, France, lived up to its billing with the U.S defeating England 2-1 to advance to Sunday's final.

Pick your superlative and chances are someone, somewhere used it to describe this game at some point. Epic. Intense. Pressure-packed. Match of the tournament. Regardless of the term, the Women's World Cup quarterfinal game lived up to the hype. One versus four. Defending champion against the host country favorite. The U.S. was crisp and powerful from the first whistle until the final one. It beat France 2-1.

The U.S. has shown few weaknesses in its march through the Women's World Cup in France. But now the competition gets harder and the stakes are higher in the knockout round of the monthlong tournament. The first U.S. test comes Monday against Spain in the round of 16 (kickoff is noon ET and broadcast on FS1 and Telemundo).

The United States Women's National Team continued to show why it's the best team in the world with another stellar performance in the Women's World Cup. The U.S. defeated Chile 3-0 before a sell-out crowd in Paris.

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When a passenger jet crashed in Indonesia last year, Dennis Muilenburg said what airline executives commonly say.

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED RECORDING)

DENNIS MUILENBURG: The bottom line here is the 737 Max is safe.

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The top-ranked U.S. Women's National Soccer Team is back on the field Saturday afternoon playing against number four England in Nashville, Tenn. The SheBelieves Cup also includes top-ten powerhouses Brazil and Japan. The U.S. and Japan played to a 2-2 tie on Wednesday.

When Nancy Grace Roman was a child, her favorite object to draw was the moon.

Her mother used to take her on walks under the nighttime sky and show her constellations, or point out the colorful swirls of the aurora. Roman loved to look up at the stars and imagine.

Eventually, her passion for stargazing blossomed into a career as a renowned astronomer. Roman was one of the first female executives at NASA, where she served as the agency's first chief of astronomy.

Fifty years ago Friday, on Dec. 21, 1968, Apollo 8 lifted off, marking the first time humans left low Earth orbit and flew to the moon.

This was the second manned spaceflight of the Apollo program, and it was a nerve-wracking and remarkable flight that captured the world's attention. The mission capped a difficult and conflict-filled year in the U.S., offering a rare moment when people could feel good about their planet.

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All this year, we've been taking a look back at the events of 1968. It was a remarkable time in this country's history. It included raging protests, political assassinations and racial strife. But on this day, 50 years ago, Apollo 8 lifted off.

Alan Bean, the fourth man to walk on the moon who later chronicled the experience as an artist, died Saturday in Houston after a short illness. He was 86.

Bean was the lunar module pilot of Apollo 12, which made the second moon landing, in 1969.

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There was a beautiful moment at the Olympics last night that might have gone unnoticed. Two U.S. athletes won medals for the first time. But that is not the story, as NPR's Russell Lewis reports from Pyeongchang.

John Young, who was one of NASA's most experienced astronauts and the first to fly in space six times, including a moon landing, died on Friday after complications from pneumonia. He was 87.

In NASA's history, few astronauts were more accomplished than John Young. His career was filled with firsts: he was the first to fly in space six times. He was on the first Gemini mission and he commanded the first shuttle flight. (He was also one of 12 people to walk on the moon.)

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