Media Critic Ken Auletta of The New Yorker
Is 2018 Lifetime Achievement Award Winner
Back in 2002, Ken Auletta almost broke the Harvey Weinstein story himself. He’d heard the rumors, did the reporting, saw the cancelled personal checks paid to Weinstein’s accusers and was ready to write it all for The New Yorker, where his columns about the media regularly appeared. There was just one problem: No woman would go on the record about the allegations of sexual assault. Not one. Auletta wound up writing a lengthy profile (“Beauty and the Beast,” December 2002) that described Weinstein’s bullying business tactics, but barely hinted at his sexual behavior. End of story? Not quite. Fast forward to 2017. Ronan Farrow, who knew of Auletta’s interest in the Weinstein saga, told him that even though he had eight women on the record, NBC, his employer at the time, said he “didn’t have the goods.” Auletta was astonished. Knowing that The New York Times was closing in on its own Weinstein exposé, he went to David Remnick, editor of The New Yorker, told him what Farrow had, and 15 years after he had come close to getting his own exclusive into the magazine, helped make sure that Farrow’s effort found a home there.
On the evening of Monday, Nov. 19, Auletta will be honored with the Silurians’ 2018 Lifetime Achievement Award at a dinner at the National Arts Club. Reservation forms and other details will be sent to you shortly, if they haven’t already arrived. In addition to the Annals of Communications columns that Auletta’s been writing for The New Yorker since 1992, he is the author of a dozen books, most of them focusing on the digital upheaval that has turned the media business inside out as it attempts to deal with an increasingly complex Information Age. His most recent book, published in July, is “Frenemies: The Epic Disruption of the Ad Business (And Everything Else).”
“No other reporter has covered the new communications revolution as thoroughly as has Auletta,” said the Columbia Journalism Review in anointing him as the nation’s premier media critic. He has profiled cyberworld’s leading players, including Barry Diller, Bill Gates, Rupert Murdoch and John Malone, and such business behemoths as Google, AOL Time Warner and The New York Times. He won a National Magazine Award in 2001 for his profile of Ted Turner. His books have ranged from New York to Hollywood and from Wall Street to Silicon Valley.
Auletta was born on April 23, 1942, grew up in Coney Island, went to Abraham Lincoln High School in Brooklyn, and earned a B.A. from SUNY Oswego and a master’s degree in political science from the Maxwell School of Citizenship and Public Affairs at Syracuse University. In addition to his work as a critic and a commentator, he has been a Peace Corps volunteer; worked in Senator Robert F. Kennedy’s 1968 presidential campaign; was executive editor of the weekly Manhattan Tribune; was state campaign manager for Howard J. Samuels, where according to Auletta’s own website, he “help[ed] him lose two races for Governor of New York”; and was the first executive director of the city’s Off Track Betting Corporation.
Auletta’s résumé as a journalist includes such assignments as chief political correspondent for The New York Post; staff writer and weekly columnist at The Village Voice; and contributing editor at New York magazine. Between 1977, the year he started writing for The New Yorker, and 1993, he also wrote a weekly political column for The New York Daily News. He’s been a Pulitzer juror, a Literary Lion, a trustee of PEN, and a frequent host on PBS television. And on Nov. 19, he will add the Silurians’ Lifetime Achievement Award to an already impressive record of accomplishments, so when you get your reservation form in the mail, don’t let it linger. It’s for an occasion you won’t want to miss.