Multiple Emmy and Murrow Award-winning journalist Jim Avila is the Senior National Correspondent at ABC News and White House Correspondent for ABC news and Fusion, the ABC/Univision joint venture launching in 2013. He is based in Washington DC.
In 2015 Avila was presented the Merriman Award by the White House Correspondents Association for his coverage of Cuba and the release of political prisoner Alan Gross. Also in 2015 Avila conducted the first interview of Elian Gonzalez as an adult. The young Cuban boy was the center of an international custody battle when he was 5 years old.
Avila also covers Hispanic America, immigration reform, education, politics and other issues vitally important to the Latino community, the fastest-growing segment of our population.
Avila led ABC’s coverage of the Freddie Gray shooting and riots in Baltimore, Bridgegate and Governor Chris Christie and Rick Perry’s indictment on abuse of power charges. He also continues to contribute to “20/20” and other ABC broadcasts and platforms, specializing in law and justice and consumer investigations.
Throughout 2011 and 2012 Avila’s reporting on food, drug, consumer, transportation, environmental and other regulatory issues made a tangible difference in the lives of viewers.
A versatile reporter, Avila specializes in breaking news, reporting for World News and 20/20 on both the Newtown shooting tragedy and the Boston Marathon bombing. As Senior Law and Justice Correspondent he brought his powerful storytelling to the biggest stories around the country, from Jerry Sandusky and Penn State to Michael Jackson and OJ Simpson.
He has led several newsmagazine investigations on wrongful conviction, including a girl who recanted a story that she was raped by her two cousins after her mother admitted to concocting the account. Other recent reports include an in-depth investigation into unequal justice in the court system in Texas, tracing two men from different sides of the tracks who received two very different sentences from the same Texas judge. Avila also led ABC News coverage of the battle over child custody between the State of Texas and the Fundamentalist Mormon Sect accused of abusing children. Additionally, he has contributed to network-wide special reports on bird flu, healthcare in America and Hurricane Katrina.
Avila joined ABC from NBC News, where he had served as National Correspondent for “Nightly News” since January 2000, covering a range of domestic issues that included the September 11 attacks and their aftermath and the DC sniper shootings. He also reported from Afghanistan and Iraq, during which time he filed from inside NBC’s Baghdad hotel compound during and after its bombing by terrorists. Since 1997 Avila averaged 130 reports a year on “Nightly News,” which was the highest number for any minority in broadcast history, according to Joe Foote at Arizona State’s Walter Cronkite School of Journalism. Before being named National Correspondent at NBC, Avila was a Chicago bureau correspondent, where he covered high-profile events including the shooting tragedies in Littleton, CO, Jonesboro, AR and Paducah, KY.
Prior to NBC, Avila was anchor and the investigative reporter for KNBC in Los Angeles, from 1994 to 1996. There he was the principal reporter on the O.J. Simpson criminal trial, helping the station earn the 1995 Golden Mike Award and a 1996 Emmy Award.
Before joining at KNBC, Avila was political reporter and anchor at WBBM-TV, the CBS owned station in Chicago, covering a variety of news stories of local, national and international importance, including the Persian Gulf War from both Saudi Arabia and Tel Aviv. Among his notable stories for WBBM-TV were the Beirut War, the TWA hijacking, the Nicaraguan civil war and the Mexican earthquake. From 1980 to 1984 he was a general assignment reporter for WLS, the ABC owned station in Chicago. Prior to that, he was a weekend anchor and the San Jose bureau chief for KPIX in San Francisco from 1976 to 1980. He began his broadcast career at KCBS Radio in San Francisco in 1973 as managing editor, and was later promoted to bureau chief.