Ken Auletta

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Ken Auletta
Ken Auletta 2014.jpg
Auletta at Pen America/Free Expression Literature, May 2014
Born (1942-04-23) April 23, 1942 (age 78)
Brooklyn, New York, U.S.
Occupationwriter, journalist
Spouse(s)Amanda Urban

Kenneth B. Auletta (born April 23, 1942) is an American writer, journalist, and media critic for The New Yorker.

Early life and education[edit]

Auletta, the son of an Italian-American father and a Jewish-American mother, grew up in Coney Island, Brooklyn, where he attended Abraham Lincoln High School.[1]

Auletta is a graduate of State University of New York at Oswego (SUNY Oswego), and received his M.A. in political science from Maxwell School of Citizenship and Public Affairs at Syracuse University.[2]

Writing career[edit]

Ken Auletta, center, in conversation with Amanda Urban and Nick Denton

While in graduate school, Auletta taught and trained Peace Corps volunteers. He worked in government and on several political campaigns, including Robert Kennedy's 1968 run for President. He was also the first executive director of the New York City Off-Track Betting Corporation. In 1974, Auletta became the chief political correspondent for the New York Post. Following that, he was a staff writer and weekly columnist for the Village Voice, and then a contributing editor at New York magazine. He started contributing to The New Yorker in 1977. Between 1977 and 1993, he also wrote a weekly political column for the New York Daily News and was a political commentator on WCBS-TV. In 1986, he earned the Gerald Loeb Award for Large Newspapers.[3] He was the guest editor of the 2002 edition of The Best Business Stories of the Year.

Auletta has written the "Annals of Communications" profiles for The New Yorker since 1992. His 2001 profile of Ted Turner, "The Lost Tycoon" won a National Magazine Award for Profile Writing.[4] He is the author of twelve books, his first being The Streets Were Paved With Gold (1979). His other books include The Underclass (1983), Greed and Glory on Wall Street: The Fall of The House of Lehman (1986), Three Blind Mice: How the TV Networks Lost Their Way (1991), The Highwaymen: Warriors of the Information Superhighway (1997), and World War 3.0: Microsoft and Its Enemies (2001). His book Backstory: Inside the Business of News (2003) is a collection of his columns from The New Yorker. Five of his first 11 books were national bestsellers, including "Googled: The End of the World as We Know It".

Auletta was among the first to popularize the idea of the so-called "information superhighway" with his February 22, 1993, New Yorker profile of Barry Diller, in which he described how Diller used his Apple PowerBook to anticipate the advent of the Internet and our digital future. He has profiled the leading figures and companies of the Information Age, including Bill Gates, Reed Hastings, Sheryl Sandberg, Rupert Murdoch, John Malone, and the New York Times.

Auletta has been named a Literary Lion by the New York Public Library. He has won numerous journalism awards, and was selected as one of the twentieth century's top one hundred business journalists. He has served as a Pulitzer Prize juror, and for nearly three decades has been a judge of the annual national Livingston Award for young journalists. He has twice served as a board member of International PEN, and was a longtime trustee and member of the Executive Committee of The Public Theater / New York Shakespeare Festival.

Personal life[edit]

Auletta lives in Manhattan with his wife Amanda "Binky" Urban, a literary agent.

Portrayals in popular culture[edit]

He was satirized as "Ken Fellata" in The New Republic by Jacob Weisberg and future New Yorker staff writer Malcolm Gladwell.[5]



  • Auletta, Ken (1983). The underclass. New York: Random House.
  • — (1986). Greed and Glory on Wall Street: The Fall of The House of Lehman.
  • — (1991). Three Blind Mice: How the TV Networks Lost Their Way. New York: Random House.
  • — (1997). The Highwaymen: Warriors of the Information Superhighway.
  • — (2001). The Art of Corporate Success: The Story of Schlumberger.
  • — (2001). World War 3.0: Microsoft and Its Enemies.
  • —. The Streets Were Paved with Gold.
  • Hard Feelings: Reporting on Pols, the Press, People, and the City
  • The Best Business Stories of the Year, 2002 edition (with Andrew Leckey)
  • — (2003). Backstory: Inside the Business of News.
  • — (2004). Media Man: Ted Turner's Improbable Empire.
  • Googled: The End of the World As We Know It (2009) ISBN 1-59420-235-4
  • — (2018). Frenemies: The Epic Disruption of the Ad Business (and Everything Else).

Essays and reporting[edit]


  1. ^ Hechinger, Fred M. "About Education; Personal Touch Helps", The New York Times, January 1, 1980. Accessed September 20, 2009. "Lincoln, an ordinary, unselective New York City high school, is proud of a galaxy of prominent alumni, who include the playwright Arthur Miller, Representative Elizabeth Holtzman, the authors Joseph Heller and Ken Auletta, the producer Mel Brooks, the singer Neil Diamond and the songwriter Neil Sedaka."
  2. ^
  3. ^ "Auletta Wins Loeb Award". The New York Times. May 9, 1986. p. D9. Retrieved February 1, 2019.
  4. ^ "Winners and Finalists Database | ASME". Archived from the original on 2018-10-10. Retrieved 2018-06-11.
  5. ^ The Auletta-Fellata vendetta, Variety, September 4, 1995
  6. ^ Online version is titled "The red-envelope revolution".
  7. ^ Elizabeth Holmes, CEO of Theranos.

External links[edit]