2022 World Affairs Council of the Year
Network of Independent World Affairs Councils of America

Frank Langfitt | Town Hall | Eyewitness to History: Lessons from Two Decades Covering the World | April 11



In Person


Belmont University

Thursday, April 11, 2024

5:30 Registration and Networking
6:00-7:00 Keynote Address

Eyewitness to History: Lessons from Two Decades Covering the World

NPR’s Frank Langfitt has reported from more than 50 countries and territories since the late 1990s. In a video and audio presentation, Frank recounts the history he’s witnessed through the people he’s met and how that history has shaped today’s challenging geo-political landscape. Frank will explain what he learned driving a free taxi in Shanghai and tracking elephants in South Sudan. He’ll also discuss reporting in Ukraine during Russia’s 2022 invasion and covering the Israel/Gaza war.


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About the speaker:

Frank Langfitt

Frank Langfitt is NPR’s Global Democracy correspondent based on the Investigations desk in Washington, D.C. He covers threats to democracy at home and abroad. Previously, Langfitt spent nearly two decades as an international correspondent reporting from more than 50 countries and territories. Based most recently in London, he covered Brexit, the war in Ukraine and its implications in Europe. Before that, he was based in Shanghai, Nairobi and Beijing. While in China, he drove a free taxi for a series on a changing China as seen through the eyes of ordinary people. Langfitt expanded his reporting into a book, The Shanghai Free Taxi: Journeys with the Hustlers and Rebels of the New China (Public Affairs, Hachette). Langfitt is a graduate of Princeton and was a Nieman Fellow at Harvard.


About the moderator:

David Plazas

David Plazas is the Opinion and Engagement Director for the USA TODAY Network Tennessee. He writes editorials and columns, edits guest essays and leads opinion strategy for The Tennessean in Nashville, The Commercial Appeal in Memphis and The News Sentinel in Knoxville.

His editorial writing has earned him the Society of Professional Journalists Sigma Delta Chi Award and Bronze Medallion, multiple Tennessee Press Association first-place awards and a National Headliner Award. He served as a juror for the Pulitzer Prizes in 2023 and 2024, and he contributed an essay in the book, “Reinventing Journalism to Strengthen Democracy,” focusing on his statewide work with The Tennessean’s Civility Tennessee campaign. He is a frequent event moderator and co-emceed The Nashville Mayoral Debates four-part series in 2023.

Plazas writes two opinion newsletters weekly and hosts the Tennessee Voices video show, which has produced nearly 400 episodes of conversations with leaders, thinkers and doers since 2020, and he delivered a TEDx Talk on having “adult” conversations.

He has served on several industry boards and has mentored student and young journalists in formal training programs for a decade and a half.

A Chicago native, Plazas holds a B.A. in political science and Spanish and a master’s in journalism from Northwestern University, and an MBA with a marketing concentration from Florida Gulf Coast University. He previously worked as a reporter, Spanish-language editor, community conversations editor and digital engagement editor for The News-Press in Fort Myers, Florida.

He and his family moved to Nashville in 2014.


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THE MISSION of the nonprofit, nonpartisan Tennessee World Affairs Council is to promote international awareness, understanding and connections to enhance the region’s global stature and to prepare Tennesseans to thrive in our increasingly complex and connected world.

THE VISION of  the Tennessee World Affairs Council is a well-informed community that thinks critically about the world and the impact of global events.