Jim Avila Official Biography

PHOTO: Jim Avila of ABC News.Randy Sager/ABC
Jim Avila of ABC News.

Award-winning journalist Jim Avila is the Senior National Correspondent and 20/20 Correspondent based in Los Angeles. In this role, he specializes in law and justice and consumer investigations.

A versatile reporter, Avila covered the White House from 2012 to 2016. He won the prestigious Merriman Award from the White House Correspondents Association for breaking the news that the United States and Cuba had reopened diplomatic relations. As the Senior Law and Justice Correspondent, he has covered every major trial from Jerry Sandusky and Penn State to Michael Jackson, OJ Simpson and countless others. He led reports on immigration, making several trips to the southern border to document stories of immigrants, and also covered the death of Freddie Gray and civil unrest in Baltimore.

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 the 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. Before being named National Correspondent at NBC, Avila was a Chicago bureau correspondent where he covered high-profile events including the shootings in Colorado, Arkansas and Kentucky.

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 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.

The recipient of numerous awards and honors, Avila earned a National Emmy Award for his coverage of the destruction of Grand Forks, North Dakota by flood and fire, and another Emmy for covering the fate of undocumented workers during the Southern California wildfires in 2008. He has received five Edward R. Murrow Awards and was awarded the prestigious Cine Golden Eagle Award for his portrayal of an immigrant couple who put their son through M.I.T by collecting reusable cans from the streets of Los Angeles. In 2004, Avila was awarded the Mongerson Prize for Investigative Reporting and has also received five Chicago-area Emmy Awards in the category of Spot News. In 1999, the National Association of Hispanic Journalists honored him with reporter of the year. In addition, he garnered three Peter Lisagor Awards from the Headline Club of Chicago, winning for his coverage of the Peru drug wars and the death of Mayor Harold Washington, and was named Best Reporter of 1989.

Avila is most proud of his three children, Jamie, Jenny and Evan.