Frank Langfitt

Frank Langfitt is NPR’s foreign correspondent in East Africa. Based in Nairobi, Kenya, he covers nine countries, from the jungles of eastern Congo to the streets of Mogadishu. His stories on conflict, wildlife and the continent’s growing ties with China can be heard on Morning Edition, All Things Considered, Tell Me More and the Planet Money series.

Before moving to Africa in 2010, Langfitt was a NPR business correspondent based in Washington, D.C. In that beat he covered a wide variety of labor stories, including coal mine disasters in West Virginia, factory life in South China, the 2008 U.S. financial crisis and the bankruptcies of General Motors and Chrysler.

Langfitt traveled to China to cover the 2008 Summer Olympic Games for NPR. He was part of a team that won an Edward R. Murrow Award for sports reporting. Langfitt's print and visual journalism have also been honored by the Overseas Press Association and the White House News Photographers Association.

Africa is Langfitt’s second foreign posting. Prior to arriving at NPR in 2004, he spent five years as a correspondent for the Baltimore Sun in Beijing. In his time overseas, he covered the Hong Kong handover, the fall of Suharto in Indonesia and reported from Taiwan, Korea and Vietnam. In the early days of the Afghan War, Langfitt reported from Pakistan and Kashmir. In China, he also traveled on horseback with Tibetan nomads and spent six months documenting the government's demolition of an old Beijing neighborhood.

Lanfitt’s start in journalism began when he worked as a stringer for The Philadelphia Inquirer. Later he spent several years in Hazard, Kentucky, covering the state's coalfields for the Lexington Herald-Leader. Before becoming a journalist, Langfitt drove a taxi in Philadelphia and dug latrines in Mexico.

Langfitt is a graduate of Princeton and was a Nieman Fellow at Harvard. He now lives in a British, colonial-era bungalow in Nairobi with his wife, Julie, a veterinarian, and their two children, who think Africa is a blast.

 

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2:01pm

Fri November 9, 2012
The Picture Show

The Art Of Chinese Propaganda

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

"Beloved Chairman Mao, we are loyal to you forever." 1967
Courtesy of the Shanghai Propaganda Poster Art Center

The Shanghai Propaganda Poster Art Center lies buried in an unmarked apartment building off the tree-lined streets of the city's former French Concession. There are no signs. You have to wend your way through apartment blocks, down a staircase and into a basement to discover one of Shanghai's most obscure and remarkable museums.

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3:10am

Sun November 4, 2012
The Two-Way

Can China's Legal System Change?

Chen Guangcheng, a blind Chinese lawyer, made international headlines when he escaped house arrest in April. Now at New York University, he believes changes to China's legal system are inevitable.
Frank Langfitt NPR

China's Communist Party will introduce a new slate of leaders this month to run the world's most populous country for at least the next five years. Their to-do list will include dealing with the nation's opaque and politicized court system.

"China's judicial system urgently needs to be reformed, improved and developed," a government planning paper acknowledged last month.

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9:23am

Thu November 1, 2012
China: Change Or Crisis

For Complainers, A Stint In China's 'Black Jails'

Originally published on Thu November 1, 2012 6:25 pm

A man walks through a former unofficial, or "black," jail in Beijing, in 2009. It's estimated that thousands of Chinese lodging protests against the government are illegally detained in secret sites such as this one, even though the government says they don't exist.
Elizabeth Dalziel AP

People often say China is a nation of contrasts: of wealth and poverty, of personal freedom and political limits. But that observation doesn't begin to capture the tensions and incongruities of modern life here.

For instance, in today's Shanghai, you can sip a $31 champagne cocktail in a sleek rooftop bar overlooking the city's spectacular skyline, while, just a few miles away, ordinary citizens languish in a secret detention center run by government-paid thugs.

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9:40am

Wed October 31, 2012
China: Change Or Crisis

As Economy Slows, China Looks For A New Model

Originally published on Fri November 2, 2012 11:06 am

China's rapid expansion has been fueled in part by massive construction projects, like this one in Beijing, shown last year. But many economists say the Chinese economic model is unlikely to produce the same explosive growth in the coming years and needs to be revamped.
Lintao Zhang Getty Images

If you followed American media in recent years, you might have thought China was taking over the planet. Recent titles at the book store have included Becoming China's Bitch and When China Rules the World.

"They are the world's superpower or soon will be," Glenn Beck used to intone on Fox News. "They always thought America was just a blip."

And when the city of Philadelphia postponed an Eagles football game a couple of years ago because of a blizzard forecast, then-Gov. Ed Rendell said America — unlike China — was becoming a nation of "wussies."

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11:56am

Thu October 18, 2012
It's All Politics

A Watch Party In China For The U.S. Presidential Debate

Originally published on Thu October 18, 2012 12:21 pm

The Shanghai skyline
Feng Li Getty Images

Gathering voters to watch a presidential debate and then evaluate it is a long tradition in American journalism. So, I got to thinking: What would happen if I invited a bunch of interested foreigners — all of them Chinese citizens — to watch the presidential debate from my Shanghai office?

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