David Folkenflik

Geraldo Rivera of the Fox News Channel once described David Folkenflik as "a really weak-kneed, backstabbing, sweaty-palmed reporter." Others have been kinder. The Columbia Journalism Review, for example, gave him a "laurel" for his reporting that immediately led the U.S. military to institute safety measures for journalists in Baghdad.

Folkenflik is NPR's media correspondent based in New York City. His stories are broadcast on NPR's newsmagazines and shows, including All Things Considered, Morning Edition and Talk of the Nation. His reports offer insight into the operation of the media amid tectonic shifts in the industry and cast light on figures who help shape the way the news business works. NPR's listeners were first to learn how the corporate owners of the glossy magazine GQ sought to smother distribution of its provocative story about Russian Premier Vladimir Putin. They also found out, amid the sexual abuse crisis in the Catholic church, how a small, liberal Catholic weekly based in Kansas City had been documenting allegations of abuse by priests for a generation. Folkenflik provides media criticism on the air and at NPR.org on coverage of a broad array of issues — from the war in Afghanistan, to the financial crisis, to the saga of the "Balloon Boy."

Before joining NPR in 2004, Folkenflik spent more than a decade at the Baltimore Sun, where he covered higher education, Congress, and the media. He started his career at the Durham (N.C.) Herald-Sun. In 1991, Folkenflik graduted with a bachelor's degree in history from Cornell University, where he served as editor-in-chief of The Cornell Daily Sun.

A three-time winner of the Arthur Rowse Awards for Press Criticism from the National Press Club, Folkenflik won the inaugural 2002 Mongerson Award for Investigative Reporting on the News, presented by the Center for Media and Public Affairs and the University of Virginia's Center for Governmental Studies. Folkenflik's work has also been recognized with top honors from the National Headliners Club and the Society of Professional Journalists. He was the first Irik Sevin Visiting Fellow at Cornell and speaks frequently at colleges across the country. He has served as a media analyst on such television programs as CNN's Reliable Sources, ABC News' Nightline, Fox News' O'Reilly Factor, and MSNBC's Countdown with Keith Olbermann.

Pages

Remembrances
3:00 pm
Mon March 25, 2013

Journalist Anthony Lewis Credited With Reinventing Supreme Court Reporting

Originally published on Mon March 25, 2013 8:02 pm

Transcript

AUDIE CORNISH, HOST:

Finally this hour, we remember an eminent journalist. Anthony Lewis was a two-time winner of the Pulitzer Prize. He died today of heart and renal failure at age 85. As we hear from NPR's David Folkenflik, Lewis will be remembered for reinventing coverage of the Supreme Court and for his advocacy of civil rights and civil liberties as a New York Times columnist.

Read more
Around the Nation
2:46 pm
Tue March 19, 2013

With Headline Bus Tour, 'New York Post' Takes Manhattan

The New York Post is notorious for topping its stories of scandal and gossip with brazen and pun-laden headlines.
Stan Honda AFP/Getty Images

Originally published on Wed March 20, 2013 10:06 am

One of the joys of living in New York City is laughing at the giant screaming headlines in the New York Post. When the former secretary of state knocked back a beer on one of her trips abroad: "Swillary." When the Lance Armstrong doping scandal broke: "Drug Pedaller." And when CIA director David Petraeus admitted having an affair? "Cloak And Shag Her."

Read more
Media
2:43 pm
Mon March 18, 2013

After Investigation, No Evidence 'Wall Street Journal' Bribed Chinese Officials

Originally published on Mon March 18, 2013 3:54 pm

Transcript

ROBERT SIEGEL, HOST:

From NPR News, this is ALL THINGS CONSIDERED. I'm Robert Siegel.

MELISSA BLOCK, HOST:

Read more
Technology
12:04 am
Fri March 8, 2013

News Corp. Education Tablet: For The Love Of Learning?

Joel Klein, former New York City schools chief, left to run News Corp.'s education division. On Thursday, Amplify announced a specially designed education tablet.
Richard Drew AP

Originally published on Mon March 18, 2013 11:32 am

The educational division of the media conglomerate News Corp., called Amplify, unveiled a new digital tablet this week at the SXSW tech conference in Austin, Texas, intended to serve millions of schoolchildren and their teachers across the country.

Amplify promises the tablet will simplify administrative chores for teachers, enable shy children to participate more readily in discussions, and allow students to complete coursework at their own pace while drawing upon carefully selected online research resources.

Read more
Television
3:45 pm
Tue March 5, 2013

New Fox Sports Network Hopes To Challenge ESPN's Cable Dominance

Originally published on Tue March 5, 2013 4:20 pm

Rupert Murdoch announced on Tuesday the launch of Fox Sports 1, an all sports cable channel that will compete head to head with ESPN.

Politics
2:56 pm
Fri March 1, 2013

Media Circus: Ah, The President's Mean

The Washington Post's Bob Woodward, shown in June 2012, has been in the spotlight this week because of a tussle with the White House.
Jim Watson AFP/Getty Images

The week's developments include a pope emeritus for the first time in six centuries, federal budget cuts seemingly designed by Sweeney Todd, and the visit by one of the NBA's all-time rebounders (Dennis Rodman) to the son of one of the world's greatest sportsmen (that would be North Korean dictator Kim Jung Un, whose late father claimed to have shot five holes-in-one on his very first golf outing).

Read more
Media
5:17 pm
Thu February 21, 2013

CNBC Adopts Tougher Tactic In Booking Wars

Morning rush hour commuters pass by a CNBC crew in front of the New York Stock Exchange in September 2006. The channel has adopted a policy that prohibits guests from appearing on rival channels amid breaking news.
Mary Altaffer AP

Originally published on Fri February 22, 2013 8:26 am

CNBC is far and away the television ratings leader in the financial cable news business. Now, evidence arrives that its executives, producers and reporters are going to great lengths to maintain its status.

The channel has adopted a policy that prohibits guests from appearing on rival channels amid breaking news if they want to be seen by CNBC's larger audience.

Read more
Media
3:12 pm
Wed February 20, 2013

New York Times Plans To Sell 'Boston Globe'

Originally published on Wed February 20, 2013 4:11 pm

Transcript

MELISSA BLOCK, HOST:

From NPR News, this is ALL THINGS CONSIDERED. I'm Melissa Block.

The Grey Lady is shedding more of its assets. This afternoon, The New York Times Company announced that it intends to sell The Boston Globe and other properties it owns in New England.

For more on this, NPR's media correspondent David Folkenflik joins me from our bureau in New York. And, David, what can you tell us? Why this sale, and why now?

Read more
Media
3:59 pm
Thu January 31, 2013

'New York Times' The Target Of Chinese Cyber Attack

Originally published on Thu January 31, 2013 5:55 pm

Transcript

MELISSA BLOCK, HOST:

From NPR News, this is ALL THINGS CONSIDERED. I'm Melissa Block.

AUDIE CORNISH, HOST:

And I'm Audie Cornish.

The New York Times revealed today that it was the target of a month's long cyber attack. The paper believes the attack came from Chinese authorities in response to an expose of cronyism among China's ruling elite. The hackers were able to breach The Times entire system and swipe passwords for every employee.

Read more
Media
3:30 am
Fri January 18, 2013

Media Circus: The Football Star And The Will To Believe

Notre Dame linebacker Manti Te'o speaks Nov. 29 after he received a sportsmanship award from the Awards and Recognition Association in South Bend, Ind.
Joe Raymond AP

Originally published on Fri January 18, 2013 8:05 am

One of the top collegiate football players in the country, Notre Dame's Manti Te'o, was lionized by the media amid stories of his perseverance on the field after both his grandmother and his girlfriend died.

Thanks to an expose by Deadspin, the girlfriend's very existence is now believed to be a hoax, throwing the Heisman runner-up and his university on the defensive.

Read more
Media
3:57 pm
Wed January 16, 2013

Oprah Interview Adds To Armstrong's Complicated Media History

Lance Armstrong speaks at a press conference of the 100th Milan-San Remo Cycle Race on March 20, 2009.
Vittorio Zunino Celotto Getty Images

Originally published on Fri January 18, 2013 5:16 am

After a career of alternately charming, manipulating and strong-arming the media, former cycling champion Lance Armstrong is turning for redemption to a televised interview with Oprah Winfrey.

Winfrey has said viewers of her talk show on her cable channel OWN on Thursday and Friday nights will witness Armstrong confess that he cheated. But, she warned that people will be surprised in the way in which he confesses.

Read more
Business
3:08 am
Tue January 1, 2013

Tribune Co. Moves Toward Entertainment, Cable TV

Originally published on Tue January 1, 2013 7:44 am

Transcript

DAVID GREENE, HOST:

The Chicago-based Tribune Company, the corporate owner of the L.A. Times, Chicago Tribune, Baltimore Sun and 23 local TV stations, emerged from bankruptcy yesterday after a messy four-year process.

As NPR's David Folkenflik reports, Tribune's future may look very different from its newsy past.

Read more
Shootings In Newtown, Conn.
2:26 am
Tue December 18, 2012

Coverage Rapid, And Often Wrong, In Tragedy's Early Hours

Flowers, candles and stuffed animals make up a makeshift memorial in Newtown, Conn., on Monday. Much of the initial news coverage of Friday's events was later found to be inaccurate.
Eric Thayer Reuters/Landov

Originally published on Tue December 18, 2012 12:09 pm

Nearly everyone reported so many things wrong in the first 24 hours after the Sandy Hook shootings that it's hard to single out any one news organization or reporter for criticism.

Read more
Media
4:55 am
Tue December 4, 2012

Murdoch's News Corp. Announces Changes

Originally published on Tue December 4, 2012 6:23 am

Transcript

DAVID GREENE, HOST:

News Corp chairman and CEO Rupert Murdoch, yesterday, revealed the details of his plan to split his media and entertainment conglomerate. One side will include the newspapers and publishing house. The other will contain its profitable television properties and movie studios. As NPR's David Folkenflik reports, Murdoch is trying to appease shareholders, and at the same time, save the newspapers that propelled his initial fortune.

Read more
Business
3:06 am
Thu November 15, 2012

Thompson Takes Over New York Times Company

Originally published on Thu November 15, 2012 4:58 am

This week marks the start of Mark Thompson's tenure as the new chief executive officer at the New York Times Co. It is facing financial head-winds, and is hoping Thompson can recapture some of the success he enjoyed in leading the BBC. But there's concern within the Times that its new leader has been tainted by scandals at his old employer.

Business
3:37 am
Wed November 14, 2012

Barron To Be Executive Editor At 'Washington Post'

Originally published on Wed November 14, 2012 6:06 am

Martin Baron of the Boston Globe has been named the new executive editor of The Washington Post. He replaces Marcus Brauchli who came to the Post in 2008 from The Wall Street Journal.

Media
4:17 pm
Mon November 12, 2012

Conservative Media Caught in the Blame Game

Originally published on Tue November 13, 2012 5:08 am

In the wake of last Tuesday's elections, a lively debate has erupted into the open over whether conservatives and the Republican Party were well-served by their favorite media outlets.

Former Gov. Mitt Romney was reported to have been so certain of a victory on Tuesday night that he cast aside tradition and did not draft a concession speech. But conservatives now say his misplaced confidence — and theirs — were bolstered by the predictions of many like-minded pundits, which were broadcast and posted online around the clock by sympathetic news outlets.

Read more
Media
3:09 pm
Fri November 9, 2012

Some In GOP Criticize Fox For Failing Its Audience

Originally published on Fri November 16, 2012 10:17 am

Transcript

ROBERT SIEGEL, HOST:

A lively post-election debate has sprung up, in conservative circles, about the conservative media. The question is whether Republicans were well-served by pundits who insisted Mitt Romney would win on Election Day. Governor Romney even told reporters on Election Day that he was so certain of victory, he hadn't even drafted a concession speech.

NPR media correspondent David Folkenflik has this story on misplaced conservative confidence, and how it was spread by sympathetic news outlets.

Read more
Election 2012
3:10 am
Wed November 7, 2012

Media Circus: Fox Struggles With Obama's Win

Fox News anchor Megyn Kelly walked down the hallway to ask the Fox decision team to explain the reasoning behind its Ohio call, which contradicted Rove's analysis. Click here to watch the interview.
Fox News

Originally published on Wed November 7, 2012 1:10 pm

Imagine a ballot Tuesday that confronted you not with a choice between candidates named OBAMA and ROMNEY, but that looked more like this:

How much do you support the REPUBLICAN?

Pick only one.

Utterly _____

More than that ____

For much of Election Day, that was what viewers encountered in watching Fox News' coverage. President Obama was, in the words of Fox & Friends co-host Steve Doocy at the outset of the day, a guy who "promised hope and change — a lot of stuff — and he didn't deliver."

Read more
Media
3:22 pm
Tue November 6, 2012

Voters Have Myriad Of Options To Track Returns

Originally published on Tue November 6, 2012 6:08 pm

Transcript

LYNN NEARY, HOST:

There's a principle in marketing that if you have too many similar products to choose from, you can become paralyzed; so, too, in news, as the number of outlets and media platforms explode. On a day when millions of people will be following election results, we asked NPR media correspondent David Folkenflik to give us a sense of the many ways you can find information.

Read more
Media
3:41 pm
Fri November 2, 2012

Campaigns Use Local Media As A Form Of 'Free Press'

In battleground states like Ohio, distant national figures running for the White House show up in person to capture the local news cycle again and again and again. The campaigns' desire to get "free media" simply by appearing is a source of excitement and exhaustion for local news organizations, which know they're being used but can't help themselves.

Media
9:18 am
Sat October 27, 2012

Sexual Abuse Scandal Rocks U.K.'s BBC Network

Transcript

SCOTT SIMON, HOST:

This is WEEKEND EDITION from NPR News. I'm Scott Simon. The BBC, one of the world's most prominent broadcasters, is in an uproar over allegations that one of its most famous TV personalities was a pedophile who preyed upon youths who appeared on his shows. As NPR's David Folkenflik reports, the BBC is both investigating the actions of the late Jimmy Savile and fielding sharp questions about why it killed a documentary exploring such accusations late last year.

Read more
Media
3:50 pm
Wed October 24, 2012

Newspaper Endorsements: Prized, But Often Ignored

The power of newspaper endorsements has faded, but candidates still compete for them.
Justin Sullivan Getty Images

Originally published on Wed October 24, 2012 7:02 pm

This weekend, a slew of newspapers in key swing states including Ohio are expected to release their endorsements for the presidency and other elected positions.

Such external validation is highly prized by candidates, but it's no longer entirely clear why.

Read more
It's All Politics
10:44 pm
Mon October 22, 2012

Media Circus: Tone Trumps Content In Final Debate

President Obama and GOP presidential nominee Mitt Romney walk away after they greet each other at the end of the third presidential debate in Boca Raton, Fla., on Monday.
Saul Loeb AFP/Getty Images

Originally published on Mon October 22, 2012 10:55 pm

For most American viewers, including this one, much of Monday night's presidential debate on foreign policy was conducted as though it were in a foreign language.

References to Mali, to former U.N. Secretary-General Kofi Annan, missile shields in Poland, "status of forces" agreements — could only have befuddled the voting public.

It's not that the candidates invoked unimportant issues. And it's not that the two held so elevated a conversation mere mortals could not understand. It's that they were debating almost entirely in tone rather than content.

Read more
Media
2:59 pm
Thu October 18, 2012

After 80 Years In Print, 'Newsweek' To Go All Digital

Tina Brown, editor-in-chief of Newsweek, announced Thursday that the 80-year-old newsmagazine will publish its final print edition on Dec. 31 and shift to an all-digital format in early 2013.
John Moore Getty Images

Originally published on Thu October 18, 2012 6:00 pm

Newsweek editor Tina Brown announced Thursday she would embrace a fully digital future as she revealed that the magazine's final print edition would be published at the end of the year.

Her announcement was a bow to gravity, as her unique blend of buzz and brio proved incapable of counteracting Newsweek's plummeting circulation and advertising amid an accelerating news cycle. Brown said there would be an unspecified number of layoffs as well.

Read more
It's All Politics
10:56 pm
Tue October 16, 2012

Media Circus: Candidates Brawl, Pundits Reverse Course Yet Again

CNN's Candy Crowley moderates the second presidential debate between Mitt Romney and President Obama at Hofstra University in Hempstead, N.Y., on Tuesday.
Saul Loeb AFP/Getty Images

Originally published on Fri October 26, 2012 12:57 pm

Pundits fretted that the town hall format for Tuesday's presidential exchange would yield tepid results: undecided voters posing questions over 90 minutes with little more than a passing touch from the moderator, CNN's Candy Crowley.

Boy, was that a misplaced fear. "So much for the analysis this would not be confrontational," Fox News anchor Bret Baier said in the moments after the debate.

Read more
It's All Politics
10:34 pm
Thu October 11, 2012

Media Circus: Who Won? The Moderator

Vice President Joe Biden speaks as Republican Rep. Paul Ryan and moderator Martha Raddatz listen during the vice presidential debate at Centre College on Thursday in Danville, Ky.
Michael Reynolds Pool/Getty Images

Originally published on Fri October 12, 2012 10:51 am

Atmospherically, the vice presidential debate pitted old versus new. Vice President Joe Biden lives in a world where no lily goes ungilded, and every 'lative is super. Rep. Paul Ryan speeds through campaigning energetically, like the heroic train in the new movie Atlas Got Cut Using the P90X Workout.

And the moderator Martha Raddatz? She came out guns blazing. No avuncular, passive Jim Lehrer she.

Read more
Media
1:27 am
Thu October 11, 2012

Advice For Moderators: Keep Order, Out Of Spotlight

Moderator Jim Lehrer gestures before the presidential debate at the University of Denver last week. Moderators must finagle answers out of sometimes-dodgy politicians and keep control, all without seeming to get in the way.
Chip Somodevilla Getty Images

Originally published on Thu October 11, 2012 5:58 am

PBS' Jim Lehrer came in for widespread criticism last week for failing to control the first presidential debate. Now, moderator Martha Raddatz is confronting partisan criticism in the lead-up to Thursday night's vice presidential debate, the first and only direct confrontation between Republican Paul Ryan and Democrat Joe Biden.

Read more
Television
2:57 pm
Tue October 9, 2012

'Sesame Street' Tries To Keep Big Bird Out Of Politics

Originally published on Tue October 9, 2012 5:10 pm

When Mitt Romney said he would cut PBS funding in the first presidential debate — and singled out Big Bird, whom he said he liked a lot — he perhaps inadvertently introduced the befeathered yellow children's icon smack into the center of political debate. President Obama approved a cable-only commercial dinging Romney for going after Sesame Street rather than Wall Street, but Romney appears to think he has a winning hand — castigating the president for focusing on a profitable educational puppet empire rather than big issues, like terrorism in the Arab world.

It's All Politics
11:13 pm
Wed October 3, 2012

Lights, Camera, Action (zzzz), Tweet!

Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney and President Barack Obama shake hands at the first presidential debate at the University of Denver, Wednesday.
Charlie Neibergall AP

Originally published on Thu October 4, 2012 10:47 am

I have spent the past few days sequestered with a crack team of political pros — actually, curled into a fetal ball, clutching a fading 1980 John Anderson poster — to gird myself for the vital first debate between President Obama and Mitt Romney.

So many questions lingered:

Would Romney offer to wager Obama $10,000 on who wins the race?

Would Obama tell Romney, "You're taxable enough, Mitt"?

Read more

Pages