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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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"?



President Obama has held a lead over Mitt Romney in the polls for several weeks now, and that's prompted a conservative reaction. Some are charging that big media outlets are intentionally designing their polling to make it look like the president is getting the kind of voter surge he had in 2008. NPR's David Folkenflik has the story.

By the time Glenn Beck left the Fox News Channel in June 2011, both sides seemed ready, even eager, to part ways. Beck announced he would move on to bigger and grander ventures with his own production company, Mercury Radio Arts, but some media critics, such as Variety's Brian Lowry, shrugged then and since.

This is the second in a three-part series about major American networks trying to appeal to a broader Latino audience.

Every morning at 11:45, NBC News officials hold a conference call with their counterparts at sister networks to sort through stories of interest. Among those on the line are executives at CNBC, MSNBC and The Weather Channel; digital news editors; and executives at Telemundo, a Spanish-language broadcast network.

Cable news channels tend to treat intellectuals gingerly — as fragile curiosities or as targets for ridicule — when they appear at all.

Not MSNBC's Melissa Harris-Perry. This newly anointed cable host commutes 1,300 miles each week for her eponymous program of opinionated conversation, interviews and essays that runs live for two hours each Saturday and Sunday morning.



Until this past weekend, Romney generally ignored invitations to be interviewed, except on Fox News. Then on Friday night, he did a series of TV talks defending his work at Bain Capital.

NPR's media correspondent David Folkenflik was watching.

Major newspapers in Chicago, Houston and San Francisco are among those this week that have acknowledged they published dozens of items in print or online that appeared under fake bylines.

As was first disclosed by the public radio program This American Life, the items in question were not written by reporters on the staffs of the papers at all but by employees of what is effectively a news outsourcing firm called Journatic.

News Corp. executives have confirmed they are considering dividing the company in two. One new company would hold all of News Corp.'s profitable entertainment and television outlets. The other would hold all of its newspaper and publishing outlets. The move is seen as a way for the Murdoch family to hang on to its less profitable and troubled newspapers while pleasing investors with a newly independent and far more profitable entertainment company.

Mike Huckabee fell short four years ago in his quest to become the Republican presidential nominee. As of this week, the former Arkansas governor has a new job: national radio talk show host.

The Mike Huckabee Show started Monday with an anticipatory flourish.

"Welcome to the community of conversation. You've just made a right turn, and you've arrived at the corner of conservatism and common sense," he said. "In this show, we're going to be confronting the issues — not the listeners."

The urbane Mike Wallace, a CBS News correspondent equally at home questioning con men, celebrities and chiefs of state, died Saturday in New Canaan, Conn. He was 93.

First of four parts

Ultimately, all roads lead home for Rupert Murdoch.

"The story of our company is the stuff of legend: from a small newspaper in Adelaide to a global corporation based in New York, with a market capitalization of about $44 billion," he said last October, when he addressed a News Corp. shareholders meeting in Los Angeles.

Australians view the company's history differently.

Philadelphia's financially troubled newspapers — the jointly owned Inquirer and Daily News — may be sold for the fourth time in six years. Circulation and advertising are down. A new set of layoffs has been announced, and the papers' newsrooms are about to be combined with the news site Philly.com.

But reporters and editors there are outraged by something else: the actions of their own publisher to influence their coverage of the company's sale.

The influential writer and cultural critic Christopher Hitchens died on Thursday at the age of 62 from complications of cancer of the esophagus. Hitchens confronted his disease in part by writing, bringing the same unsparing insight to his mortality that he had directed at so many other subjects.

Over the years, Hitchens' caustic attention was directed at a broad range of subjects, including Henry Kissinger, Prince Charles, Bob Hope, Michael Moore, the Dalai Lama and Mother Teresa.

A distinctive voice — and character — in television news has died. Andy Rooney was a signature essayist on the CBS news program 60 Minutes for decades. He was 92.

CBS said Rooney died Friday night in New York of complications following minor surgery last month. Just a month ago, he delivered his last regular essay on the CBS newsmagazine.