Before coming to UU World, Tom was an editor at the Chicago Tribune and the New York Times and was the publisher of two magazines, so he has watched the decline of American newspapers with an insider’s sense of alarm. But his real concern isn’t lost jobs for journalists or fewer papers landing on front porches: It’s the threat to democracy that comes from the mainstream media’s almost exclusive focus on the concerns of more affluent readers, who can pay for daily newspaper subscriptions and whose eyeballs interest online advertisers. Who is providing less affluent Americans with reliable reporting that strengthens their ability to be democratically engaged?
Tom has assembled the Banyan Project, a group of twenty-seven experts from several disciplines, to develop a reader-owned, co-op model of online journalism focused on the needs and interests of less-than-affluent citizens. Last year, as a fellow at Harvard’s Berkman Center for Internet and Society, Tom developed Banyan’s detailed business plan. This year, he is launching the pilot site. Learn more about his project at tomstites.com, where you can also read “Changing the Game for the Future of Journalism,” the lecture he delivered as the 2010 Game Changer Award recipient at the WeMedia Conference.
What a model for retirement!
We have had great luck with the quality of the student interns UU World has hosted each summer. This summer Julia Angley, an undergraduate at Johns Hopkins University and a lifelong UU from Marshfield, Massachusetts, produced a torrent of great copy, which you’ll find sprinkled throughout this issue. She wrote news stories for uuworld.org and also compiled our weekly “Unitarian Universalists in the Media” blog. We welcome applications for internships throughout the year. Visit uuworld.org/about/internships.shtml to learn more.
We’re also pleased to welcome Stephanie Ruckh Franzosa to our team as a freelance copyeditor. A professional proofreader for the past fifteen years, Stephanie is a member of First Parish in Arlington, Massachusetts. We appreciate her eye for detail and her commitment to the serial comma.
- Tom Stites. Website of former editor Tom Stites, who is now at work on a business model for web journalism serving less affluent Americans. (tomstites.com)