Culture / Newsy

The New Face of the News is Texas’ Own

Tom Hanson Beams Into 100,000 Homes Across the Country Every Night — All the Way From Fort Worth

BY // 01.10.23

31-year-old journalist Tom Hanson has never been able to predict his next big step. Whether it was finding himself, fresh out of the Cronkite School of Journalism, standing in for Anderson Cooper during the 2012 election, or landing a coveted correspondent role for Channel One News, a Peabody award-winning, teen-focused daily news program that launched the careers of Lisa Ling, Maria Menounos, and, coincidentally, Anderson Cooper. He certainly never anticipated a 2022 move from New York City to Dallas, Texas, where he currently serves as the weeknight anchor for the just-launched CBS News Now, a hybrid local/national newscast that could very well become a model for all major networks in the future. “It’s been a really unpredictable but cool path,” Hanson says.

It hasn’t always been smooth sailing though. Hanson’s first big break at Channel One News, where he traveled the world interviewing the Dalai Lama, documenting genocide in Myanmar, and tracking down elephant poachers in the Sub-Sahara wilderness, came to an abrupt end when the station shut down in June of 2018. “I was tethered to the Titanic,” Hanson recalls. “The string quartet was playing. It was so sad.”

Fortunately, CBS came calling with a role that would ultimately lead to News Now. Headquartered at the KTVT / KTXA studios in Fort Worth and broadcast nationwide to cities like Miami and San Francisco, the experimental concept was created to bridge the gap between CBS’ vast local news stations, which they have in nearly every major city, and the main network.

“We leverage of the reach of these local stations’ investigative teams who are really pounding the pavement, finding the stories, and doing a vital amount of newsgathering for the network,” Hanson explains. “So we’re showcasing those reporters, while also giving the national news.”

The indispensable nature of local news became clear during the pandemic, when readers gravitated toward national headlines with a more regional lens, but its value has always been clear to Hanson. “The network teams may drop in from time to time, but when the networks leave, the local reporters are still there following up on every thread,” Hanson says. “They know these stories better than anyone else because they’re in it. I think [the News Now model] is something every station would be smart to replicate.”

Tom Hanson, an anchor for CBS’ national NOW Newscast. (portrait by Christopher Sonny Martinez)

As for why CBS landed on the Dallas-Fort Worth area to launch its concept, Hanson replies, “Why not? Journalists right now are met with such a level of skepticism across the board for not having their finger on the pulse. What better place to be than the heart of the country?”

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Hanson understands the significance of transparency in media better than most. “Living authentically and gay, that’s something I have always tried to fold into my reporting to make sure we don’t lose sight of a wide variety of voices,” Hanson shares, noting names like Don Lemon, Sam Champion, and of course, Anderson Cooper, for helping pave the way.

And as for how he feels about Dallas, the welcoming city has made Hanson feel right at home. “Everything I loved about New York I’ve found in Dallas,” he shares. “The people, the food, the art, the going out scene…. I just have a car now.”

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