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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2:21pm

Fri September 12, 2014
Parallels

Riding The 'Silver Dragon,' Surfers Tame China's 10-Foot River Waves

Originally published on Fri September 12, 2014 9:01 pm

A team from Honolulu, which included Jamie O'Brien of Hawaii's North Shore, won this week's surfing competition, held on one of the world's two biggest tidal bores, located in Hangzhou, China. The other is in the Amazon.
Courtesy of Wabsono

The hottest surfing in China this week wasn't along some palm-fringed beach in the south, but on a muddy, sometimes trash-strewn river in the eastern city of Hangzhou.

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2:55am

Thu September 11, 2014
Goats and Soda

The Alibaba Effect: How China's eBay Transformed Village Economics

Originally published on Thu September 11, 2014 8:58 am

Handsome Zhang — that's his real name in Mandarin --€“ runs a shipping company, one of many supporting businesses spawned by East Wind village's furniture industry. The shipping business helped Zhang, 25, buy this Kia sports car.
Frank Langfitt NPR

The Chinese e-commerce behemoth Alibaba is poised this week for what could be one of the biggest IPOs in Wall Street history. One reason Alibaba has been so dominant in China is its business-to-consumer platform, Taobao, a sort of Chinese eBay.

Last year, Taobao and Alibaba's brand-name retail site, Tmall, drove nearly a quarter of a billion dollars in transactions.

Along the way, Taobao has even transformed village economies.

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2:16pm

Mon September 8, 2014
Parallels

From A Chinese Apartment To Wall Street Darling: The Rise Of Alibaba

Originally published on Mon September 8, 2014 6:23 pm

Jack Ma speaks in Hangzhou, China, on May 10, 2013. Ma shot to fame as the founder of Alibaba, the pioneering Chinese e-commerce site that's poised to be one of the biggest tech IPOs ever when it goes public in New York.
Peter Parks AFP/Getty Images

Like most great origin stories, the tale behind China's e-commerce giant, Alibaba, begins simply. In the winter of 1999, Jack Ma, a former English teacher, gathered friends in an apartment in the eastern city of Hangzhou.

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5:58am

Sun September 7, 2014
Parallels

China Gets A Big Dose Of Fine Art Photography

Originally published on Mon September 8, 2014 3:24 am

Peikwen Cheng; Praying from the Lost and Found Series, 2010.
Peikwen Cheng Courtesy of MD Gallery

China's largest fair devoted to fine art photography opened in Shanghai this weekend. The first-time event is called Photo Shanghai and includes more than 500 works from photographers around the world.

One of the exhibits drawing a lot of Chinese visitors this weekend is by photographer Zhang Kechun. One of the most striking images features a Buddha head, about 40 feet high, sitting in the middle of an open pit coal mine.

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4:40am

Mon September 1, 2014
Parallels

Why Did Crowd Flee Shanghai Subway After Foreigner Fainted?

Originally published on Tue September 2, 2014 8:59 am

A still from the surveillance camera footage shows the fainting man (top left and bottom right) lying alone in a subway car, as the few remaining occupants hurry away.
YouTube

One Saturday night this summer, a foreigner fainted and fell to the floor of a Shanghai subway car.

The passengers around him scattered. Not a single person tried to help.

When the train arrived at the next station, hundreds rushed out, nearly trampling each other.

The incident was captured on closed-circuit cameras. Tens of millions in China have now seen the images, which have rekindled a long-running debate among Chinese about their national character as well as trust and fear in modern society.

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