Author and Media Columnist, The New Yorker
About the Speaker
Ken Auletta has written the “Annals of Communications” column for The New Yorker magazine since 1992. He is the author of ten books, including the national bestsellers Three Blind Mice: How the TV Networks Lost Their Way, Greed and Glory on Wall Street: The Fall of the House of Lehman, The Highwaymen: Warriors of the Information Super Highway and World War 3.0: Microsoft and Its Enemies.
Born in 1942, he grew up on Coney Island in Brooklyn, where he attended public schools. He graduated from the State University College at Oswego, NY and received an M.A. in political science from the Maxwell School of Citizenship and Public Affairs at Syracuse University. The State University of New York awarded him a Doctor of Letters in 1990.
His "The Annals of Communications" in The New Yorker was launched in late 1992, and has cast a wide net. He was among the first to popularize the so-called information superhighway with his 1993 profile of Barry Diller's search for the "new." He has profiled the leading figures and companies of the Information Age, including Bill Gates, Rupert Murdoch, John Malone and Michael Eisner; he has probed media violence, the PAC giving of communication giants, the fat lecture fees earned by journalist-pundits, and covered the Microsoft antitrust trial.
In another life, Auletta taught and trained Peace Corps volunteers; served as Special Assistant to the U.S. Under Secretary of Commerce; worked with Senator Robert F. Kennedy's 1968 campaign for the Presidency; was executive editor of the weekly Manhattan Tribune was state campaign manager for Howard J. Samuels (helping him lose two races for Governor of New York); and was the first executive director of the New York City Off Track Betting Corporation.
Starting in 1974, he was the chief political correspondent for the New York Post, then staff writer and weekly columnist for the Village Voice and contributing editor of New York magazine. He started writing pieces for The New Yorker in 1977. Between 1977 and 1993, he wrote a weekly political column for the New York Daily News. He has hosted numerous public television programs and served as a political commentator for both WNBC-TV and WCBS-TV. He has written for numerous publications, written and narrated a 90-minute biography of Rupert Murdoch for PBS's Frontline, and appears regularly on Nightline, The NewsHour with Jim Lehrer and Charlie Rose.
In 2002, Auletta was awarded the National Magazine Award for Profile Writing for one of his New Yorker columns, The Lost Tycoon -- a profile of Ted Turner. In 2004, he released Media Man: Ted Turner’s Improbable Empire, the first book-length look at Turner and his place in the reshaping of American culture. The book was the first in the dynamic new series “Enterprise”, launched by Atlas Books and W.W. Norton, pairing distinguished writers with stories of the economic forces that have shaped our modern world.
In 2003, Auletta published Backstory: Inside the Business of News, a collection of his New Yorker stories that explore the journalism industry, its dominant figures and institutions. His other books are: The Streets Were Paved with Gold, Hard Feelings, The Underclass and The Art of Corporate Success.
Of his bestselling Three Blind Mice: How the TV Networks Lost Their Way, Frank Stanton, president of CBS from 1946 to 1973, hailed it as "the best book ever written on network television." Before insider trading scandals burst into our consciousness, Auletta captured the ethos of Wall Street in the mid-eighties with Greed and Glory on Wall Street, which drew a chorus of praise and was a national bestseller. The New York Times wrote, "a riveting chronicle of the lust for money, power and reputation. Invaluable." The Wall Street Journal called it, "a towering reportorial achievement." And long before the notion was in the air, Auletta's third book, The Underclass, inserted this phrase into our national language, triggering praise from the left and right. "Personal, vivid and irrefutable," wrote Michael Harrington in The New Republic. James Q. Wilson in New York magazine wrote, "Sympathetic and yet dispassionate...splendid...a call for intellectual honesty and political courage."
Auletta has won numerous journalism honors. He has been chosen a Literary Lion by the New York Public Library, and one of the 20th Century's top 100 business journalists by a distinguished national panel of peers. Appearing before the Financial Writers Association of America in 1997, Wall Street Journal managing editor Paul Steiger turned to him and declared, "I really think that the kind of stuff you do for The New Yorker is terrific. I'd love to see more of that kind of stuff on the front page of The Wall Street Journal. I think you set a standard."
Auletta has served as a Pulitzer Prize juror, is a judge of the annual Livingston national journalism awards and a Trustee (and member of the Executive Committee) of the Public Theatre/New York Shakespeare Festival. He is a member of PEN, has served on the PEN board and is a member of the Author's Guild.
His new book, Googled: The End of The World As We Know It, is a New York Times business bestseller. Business Week named it one of the best books of the year. Auletta and his wife and daughter reside in Manhattan.