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.

Copyright 2014 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

Transcript

AUDIE CORNISH, HOST:

Copyright 2014 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

Transcript

AUDIE CORNISH, HOST:

From NPR News, this is ALL THINGS CONSIDERED. I'm Audie Cornish.

ROBERT SIEGEL, HOST:

Rupert Murdoch's 21st Century Fox confirmed that it made an offer to buy the owner of HBO, Warner Bros., TBS and CNN but got shot down.

Transcript

STEVE INSKEEP, HOST:

A British jury has reached verdicts in a trial stemming from a scandal involving hacking by tabloids. Several former editors and executives of Rupert Murdoch's newspapers face charges. Former News of the World editor, Andrew Coulson, was found guilty. Other editors were not. NPR's media correspondent David Folkenflik has been covering this story. Hi, David.

DAVID FOLKENFLIK, BYLINE: Hey, Steve.

INSKEEP: OK, so what are the verdicts here?

Copyright 2014 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

Transcript

AUDIE CORNISH, HOST:

In trying to reconstruct how Congressman Cantor was defeated, another partial explanation surfaced in the media. Perhaps, it was the media. Here's NPR's media correspondent, David Folkenflik.

When former National Security Agency contractor Edward Snowden made the fateful decision to share sensitive documents with reporters revealing secret and mass gathering of the metadata associated with the phone calls made by tens of millions of Americans, he had to figure out which news outfit to trust.

Transcript

AUDIE CORNISH, HOST:

The New York Times' new executive editor, Dean Baquet, took over just two weeks ago, yet he appears perfectly comfortable in his perch atop the worlds of journalism and New York. He smokes fine cigars to relax, wears elegant loafers and excuses his decision to keep his suit coat on during our conversation by saying that's just who he is.

But Baquet's identity is wrapped up in a city and a different reality more than 1,000 miles away.

NPR announced Tuesday that it would cease broadcast of the weekday program Tell Me More on Aug. 1 and eliminate 28 positions as part of a larger effort to end the company's persistent budget deficits.

NPR announced the selection of a new CEO. His name is Jarl Mohn, a longtime radio disc jockey and former media executive, who's been a venture capitalist and corporate board member in recent years. The appointment of Mohn follows last year's departure of Gary Knell, who left NPR to run the National Geographic Society.

You can't forget what you've heard with your own ears.

Thanks to the widespread broadcast of his beliefs on race, the disgrace of Los Angeles Clippers owner Donald Sterling is now cemented, and the NBA is seeking to force him to sell the team.

NBA commissioner Adam Silver acknowledged as much at a news conference Tuesday, during which he announced that Sterling was banned from the league for life for his remarks on race.

Transcript

ROBERT SIEGEL, HOST:

It's ALL THINGS CONSIDERED from NPR News. I'm Robert Siegel.

AUDIE CORNISH, HOST:

And I'm Audie Cornish. Verticals, context blogs, explainers, those are the buzzwords of the news business. From some of the nation's oldest papers to the newest digital news startups, there's a rush to create sites that emphasize context rather than good old-fashioned scoops. The focus now is to blend fresh writing, number crunching and striking graphics. NPR's David Folkenflik reports on this evolution.

Bloomberg News finds itself under unwelcome scrutiny once again, as its parent company's chairman suggests that reporting on the corruption of China ruling elites isn't part of its core mission. A key China editor also revealed this week that he had quit Bloomberg in protest of a decision not to publish a subsequent investigation.

Transcript

ROBERT SIEGEL, HOST:

Journalist and bestselling author Joe McGinness has died. The author of classic books about politics and true crime was 71 years old. He suffered from complications due to inoperable prostate cancer. As NPR media correspondent David Folkenflik recalls, McGinness courted controversy throughout his career.

Owners of The Oregonian are shedding the identity of a daily print newspaper and emphasizing digital content instead. The shift has been received with both cheers and outrage nationwide.

Transcript

ROBERT SIEGEL, HOST:

CNN has announced that it's canceling "Piers Morgan Live." The primetime show has suffered from weak ratings and controversy. Piers Morgan is British and a former tabloid editor and reality show judge. He was named three years ago to replace Larry King as CNN's most prominent interviewer. NPR's media correspondent David Folkenflik joins us from our New York bureau to sort through this. And first, David, why ultimately did Morgan fail? How would you characterize his approach?

Transcript

MELISSA BLOCK, HOST:

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

ROBERT SIEGEL, HOST:

And I'm Robert Siegel.

Comcast is already the nation's biggest cable TV and Internet service provider. And now, it's trying to get a whole lot bigger. The company struck a deal to buy its top cable rival, Time Warner Cable. The price tag, $45 billion. NPR's David Folkenflik reports that critics say if the sale is approved, Comcast will be too dominant.

The New York Times unveiled a major redesign of its digital offerings Wednesday. With a new scroll feature, readers will never again have to click to read the second half of a story, and the site is crafted to appeal to a mobile audience.

But the redesign has also embraced a controversial shift in journalism: Some posts on the site that look like articles are reported and written by people working for the paper's advertisers.

Anyone who has hankered for a list of 10 of the most life-affirming dog rescue stories ever can rely on the social media site BuzzFeed.

That list of 11 classic horror films that should never have been remade? That's from BuzzFeed too.

Journalists who were once among the most powerful in the United Kingdom go on trial in London on Monday. The trial is the result of a 2011 hacking scandal that electrified the media on both sides of the Atlantic and sank Rupert Murdoch's News of the World.

The trial is expected to reveal details of the uncomfortably cozy relationship between the media and political elites, says former Murdoch executive Ken Chandler.

Political reporter Jack Germond smoked and loved martinis and red wine and fine food and betting on horses — he lived life large and didn't suffer phonies.

But here's the thing about Germond, who died Wednesday at age 85: He liked politicians. That's something you don't find much among reporters today.

Donald Graham, chairman of The Washington Post Co., is the son and grandson of its leaders for the past 80 years. And along with his niece, publisher Katharine Weymouth, Graham admitted in a video on The Post's website that the family simply didn't have the answers to questions about the paper's future.

Transcript

AUDIE CORNISH, HOST:

From NPR News, this is ALL THINGS CONSIDERED. I'm Audie Cornish.

MELISSA BLOCK, HOST:

And I'm Melissa Block.

In local TV news, one of the most basic ways to appeal to viewers is to constantly promise breaking news, but one station in Louisville, Kentucky, is taking a different approach. NPR media correspondent David Folkenflik tells us more.

DAVID FOLKENFLIK, BYLINE: The spot is for WDRB television in Louisville.

(SOUNDBITE OF TV BROADCAST)

The newest co-host for Barbara Walters' chatfest The View is a vivacious and outspoken model, actor and activist for children, seemingly a perfect person to have at the table of the successful network talk show.

But Jenny McCarthy is also one of the nation's leading skeptics about the safety of vaccines. And in that role, ABC's newest star has stirred consternation.

Transcript

RENEE MONTAGNE, HOST:

In local television news, one of the most basic ways to appeal to viewers is the constant promise of breaking news. As NPR media correspondent David Folkenflik reports, one station in Louisville, Kentucky is taking a different approach and it's beginning to win attention for it.

DAVID FOLKENFLIK, BYLINE: The spot is for WDRB television in Louisville.

(SOUNDBITE OF TV SPOT)

Fox News officials professed indignation and surprise last week over the search of reporter James Rosen's records amid a federal leak investigation

But prosecutors told Fox's parent company of a subpoena nearly three years ago.

Prosecutors issued a subpoena for Rosen's phone records and got a judge to sign off on a sealed warrant for his emails back in May 2010.

Transcript

DAVID GREENE, HOST:

The White House is defending itself - again - against charges that it's trampling on the First Amendment. The Justice Department obtained a portfolio of information about a Fox News reporter's conversations and visits. Obtaining this information was part of an investigation into a possible leak. A federal prosecutor said the reporter, James Rosen, had conspired in the commission of a crime. We have more from NPR's David Folkenflik.

Transcript

SCOTT SIMON, HOST:

This is WEEKEND EDITION from NPR News. I'm Scott Simon. Pair of unrelated stories this week, both involving the news media, served to remind a lot of Americans of how little information that we may assume to be private, really is private. One story involves the U.S. Justice Department's efforts to find out who reporters are talking to; the other, reporters secretly monitoring their sources' activities.

We're joined now by NPR media correspondent David Folkenflik, from New York. David, thanks for being with us.

Journalists make choices all the time that influence our understanding of the news — the choice of what stories to cover, which people to interview, which words to use. And major news organizations have been reconsidering how best to describe a group of people whose very presence in this country breaks immigration law.

The Tribune Co., emerging from bankruptcy and looking to reshape itself, is now considering the sale of all its newspapers — including the Chicago Tribune, the Los Angeles Times, The Baltimore Sun and five other regional newspapers. It's still very early in the sale process; although the newspaper unit has been valued at $623 million, significant debts are also attached, and Tribune has signaled that it reserves the right not to sell if there isn't a worthy bid.

Pages