Tom is founder and president of the Banyan Project, which aims to strengthen democracy by pioneering a sustainable and easily replicable business model for Web journalism that serves the broad public of everyday citizens and engages their civic energy.
As a 2010-11 fellow of the Berkman Center for Internet & Society at Harvard, Tom shaped the business plan for Banyan’s distinctive reader-owned co-op business model; with the the support of the National Cooperative Business Association he is now working with community leaders in Haverhill, Mass., to launch a pilot site. He also chairs the Banyan Publishing Corp. Board of Directors.
Tom is a seasoned editor and entrepreneur with a passion for strengthening journalism and democracy. As an editor he has supervised reporting that has won an array of major journalism awards including the Pulitzer Prize; as an entrepreneur he has been the founding publisher of two print magazines and three Web publications in addition to Banyan. His writings and speeches on strengthening democracy and on journalism have won a respectful following.
Positions Tom has held include national correspondent, national editor, and associate managing editor for project reporting at The Chicago Tribune; night national editor of The New York Times, and managing editor of The Kansas City Times. He later served for a decade as the editor and publisher of UU World, the national magazine of the Unitarian Universalist religious denomination, then as a consulting editor for the Center for Public Integrity.
Tom grew up in Kansas City and attended Williams College. He has taught in the Graduate School of Public Policy at the University of Chicago and conducted seminars at several journalism schools. In 2006 he was a Resident Fellow at Harvard Divinity School, where did research on power and the conscience.
Selected Publications and Speeches—Journalism and Democracy
- Might the New Web Journalism Model be Neither For-Profit nor Nonprofit? The concluding essay in series of three for Nieman Journalism Lab at Harvard, December 2011. No. 1: Taking Stock of the State of Web Journalism. No. 2: Layoffs and Cutbacks Lead to a New World of News Deserts.
- Changing the Game for the Future of Journalism Game-Changer Award acceptance speech, WeMedia Conference, University of Miami, March 2010.
- Editors—The Best Is Yet to Come? Essay, Berkman Center for Internet & Society at Harvard University, December 2008.
- Is Media Performance Democracy’s Critical Issue? Keynote address, Media Giraffe Conference on the future of journalism, July 2006.
- How Corporate Personhood Threatens Democracy Cover essay, UU World, May/June 2003.
Selected Publications and Speeches—Other Topics
- Sitting Between the Extremes: Why a Journalist Writes Haiku Essay, UU World, Fall 2007.
- Improvisational Faith: Jazz and Unitarian Universalist Theology Cover article, UU World, September/October 2003.