Welcome to the Banyan Blog, which takes its name from the Banyan Project, the nonprofit Web journalism startup that I lead.
I’ll chronicle the project’s progress here, but my writing’s deeper focus will be the passions that fuel this venture: 1) strengthening democracy by meshing quality journalism and new forms of civic engagement the Web makes possible, and 2) illuminating the value of integrity in a culture that’s awash in conflicts of interest; deceptive commercial, political and religious messages, and outright propaganda.
This blog makes its debut as I begin a new role as a fellow of the Berkman Center for Internet & Society at Harvard University. My fellowship project is to complete detailed business planning and raise money to launch pilot sites for Banyan’s distinctive approach to journalism and its ground-breaking business model. I’m honored to have been selected as a fellow and look forward to association with the extraordinary people who make up the Berkman community.
What I bring to the community, and to this blog, is long experience as a writer and ranking editor for major newspapers and as an entrepreneurial publisher of print and Web magazines in both for-profit and nonprofit settings. I love quality journalism in all its forms, and see huge potential for Web journalism that print and broadcast forms just can’t do. This love, and my excitement at the prospect of helping new forms of journalism unfold through Banyan, will inform and fuel my writing here.
Further, for more than a decade I have studied, spoken and written about threats to democracy from the antidemocratic forces, especially giant corporations. My perspective on democracy is that it’s the collective expression of the consciences of all citizens; I pursued my interest in power and the conscience in 2006 as a resident fellow at Harvard Divinity School. This perspective will flavor my writing.
And with coauthor Doug Muder, an independent journalist and blogger who is a member of the Banyan Project board of advisors, I am at work on a book that digs into the past, present and future of journalism when measured against the needs of democracy. That effort will also find its way into this blog.
I’m looking forward to your comments, and am confident that anything you post here will be helpful to the future strength of journalism and democracy. Away we go!