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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3:29pm

Fri December 14, 2012
Asia

Nationalist Rhetoric High As Japanese Head To Polls

Originally published on Mon December 17, 2012 8:27 am

Supporters hold up posters of Japan's former Prime Minister Shinzo Abe at a rally in Osaka on Thursday. Considered a nationalist hawk, Abe is expected to become prime minister for a second time after parliamentary elections Sunday.
Buddhika Weerasinghe Getty Images

As Japanese head to the polls Sunday, Shinzo Abe is expected to become Japan's prime minister for the second time.

The election takes place as nationalistic rhetoric is on the rise, and while the country remains locked in a bitter dispute with its chief rival, China, over islands both countries claim.

'Pride And Honor'

The battle over the islands heated up last summer.

In mid-August, boats filled with about 150 Japanese activists approached one of the islands, part of a chain that the Japanese call Senkaku; the Chinese, Diaoyu.

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7:03am

Thu December 13, 2012
Asia

A Rare Visit Inside A Chinese Courtroom

An NPR reporter recently was allowed to watch legal proceedings at Hongkou District Court — a rare opportunity for a foreign correspondent in Shanghai.
Courtesy of Hongkou District Court

After years of covering China, I finally set foot in a Chinese courtroom last week. Foreign reporters need government permission to enter Chinese courts and past attempts had gone nowhere.

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6:21am

Wed November 28, 2012
The Two-Way

OK, North Korea's Leader Isn't 'Sexiest Man Alive,' Chinese Media Concede

Originally published on Wed November 28, 2012 8:56 am

Before it disappeared from the Web: Here's how People's Daily Online packaged its coverage of the "news" that Kim Jong Un is 2012's sexiest man.
People's Daily Online (frame grab of a page that has now been removed)

NPR Shanghai correspondent Frank Langfitt sends in an update on one of this week's more amusing stories:

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3:15am

Tue November 27, 2012
Asia

How Ordinary Chinese Are Talking And Fighting Back

Originally published on Tue November 27, 2012 6:53 pm

Authorities in Hunan province sentenced Tang Hui to 18 months in a re-education-through-labor camp after she repeatedly complained about the way police investigated the case of her daughter's kidnapping and forced prostitution. An uproar on Weibo, China's answer to Twitter, pushed authorities to free Tang days later.
Frank Langfitt NPR

Never have so many Chinese people spoken so freely than on Weibo, China's answer to Twitter. Just 4 years old, the series of microblog services now has more than 400 million users.

And, increasingly, Chinese are using it to expose corruption, criticize officials and try to make their country a better place — even as China's Communist Party tries to control the Weibo revolution.

Were it not for Weibo, you would never know Tang Hui's extraordinary story. She wouldn't be free to tell it; she'd be sitting in a Chinese re-education-through-labor camp eating porridge.

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11:47am

Thu November 15, 2012
Asia

In Rural China, New Leaders Aren't Familiar Faces

Originally published on Fri November 16, 2012 9:55 am

Wang Heying, 64, supports the new Communist leaders, even if she can barely name them. She says government policies have led street lamps, bigger houses and a TV in every home.
Frank Langfitt NPR

An elderly couple is winnowing rice in the front yard of their home in the tiny village of Dongjianggai, about 200 miles northwest of Shanghai. They've just watched China's incoming leaders — including Xi Jinping, the new general secretary of the Communist Party — appear for the first time on national TV.

"We don't know them," the husband, Wu Beiling, says. "Xi Jinping was just unveiled. I'm not very familiar with the rest of the members."

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