Daniel Zwerdling

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.

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Social Entrepreneurs: Taking On World Problems
12:55 pm
Thu April 4, 2013

New Mortgage Program Helps Cambodia's Poor Find Better Homes

Sriv Keng (right) and her husband, Vet Vong, dish up bowls of rice for customers at her roadside food stall, which is situated in a garment manufacturing district.
Will Baxter for NPR

Originally published on Thu April 4, 2013 7:20 pm

If you've applied for a mortgage recently, you know how hard it can be. The bank demands all kinds of obscure documents and wants proof of almost every asset you own. But an innovative mortgage program halfway around the world will evaluate your application without any extra documentation — and if you're approved, it will give you a 15-year fixed-rate mortgage. There's just one catch: The mortgages are only for low-income people in Cambodia. The program is a throwback to the days when bankers got to know their customers — and trusted them.

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Under The Label: Sustainable Seafood
6:35 pm
Mon February 11, 2013

For A Florida Fishery, 'Sustainable' Success After Complex Process

Dennis Roseman, left, and Jamie Manganello pull in a swordfish off the coast of Florida. The Day Boat Seafood company went through a complicated process to become certified as a sustainable fishery by the Marine Stewardship Council.
Chip Litherland for NPR

Originally published on Mon February 25, 2013 12:19 pm

Part three of a three-part series by Daniel Zwerdling and Margot Williams.

The long, clunky-looking fishing boat pulls up to Day Boat Seafood's dock near Fort Pierce, Fla., after 10 days out in the Atlantic. The crew lowers a thick rope into the hold, and begins hoisting 300-pound swordfish off their bed of ice and onto a slippery metal scale.

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Under The Label: Sustainable Seafood
5:42 pm
Mon February 11, 2013

Conditions Allow For More Sustainable-Labeled Seafood

A sockeye salmon that was caught from the research vessel Miss Delta off the coast of Vancouver is examined. The MSC has certified the fish as "sustainable" even though there is concern from scientists and environmentalists.
Brett Beadle for NPR

Originally published on Wed February 13, 2013 12:24 pm

Part two of a three-part series by Daniel Zwerdling and Margot Williams.

Next time you walk up to the seafood counter, look for products labeled with a blue fish, a check mark, and the words "Certified Sustainable Seafood MSC." Then ask yourself, "What does this label mean?"

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Under The Label: Sustainable Seafood
1:38 pm
Mon February 11, 2013

Is Sustainable-Labeled Seafood Really Sustainable?

Capt. Art Gaeten holds a blue shark that was caught during a research trip in Nova Scotia. Scientists are studying the impact of swordfish fishing methods on the shark population.
Dean Casavechia for NPR

Originally published on Wed February 13, 2013 12:19 pm

Part one of a three-part series by Daniel Zwerdling and Margot Williams.

Rebecca Weel pushes a baby stroller with her 18-month-old up to the seafood case at Whole Foods, near ground zero in New York. As she peers at shiny fillets of salmon, halibut and Chilean sea bass labeled "certified sustainable," Weel believes that if she purchases this seafood, she will help protect the world's oceans from overfishing.

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