Michael Mason is an editor, writer, speaker, and journalist based in Tulsa. His works have appeared in several newspapers and magazines, including Discover, The New York Times, and The Believer. Mason has also appeared as a guest on several national media outlets, including the Lehrer Newshour, CBS News, NPR’s Morning Edition and The Diane Rehm Show. In 2010, he founded This Land Press, Oklahoma’s first New Media company, and serves as its founder and editor.
Mason’s assignments have taken him into the Iraqi war zone, behind Vatican walls, and into aftermath of the World Trade Center. Along the way, he has built a reputation for noteworthy journalism. When Mason’s article, “Dead Men Walking,” appeared in Discover magazine, it ignited a national debate about the treatment of brain injured soldiers.
Mason’s first book, Head Cases: Stories of Brain Injury and Its Aftermath, is an exploration into the harsh realities endured by brain injury survivors. Since the publication of Head Cases, Mason maintains advocacy work for people with brain injury. He has addressed the Congressional Task Force on Brain Injury and has served as a past president of the Brain Injury Association of Oklahoma. He has also served as a board member of the Academy of Certified Brain Injury Specialists and has participated in two advisory councils committed to the bettering of treatment for veterans with brain injury.
A native of Oklahoma, Mason has a long history of involvement in the Tulsa community. He has been a past president of the Tulsa Artist Coalition, and founded the popular cult journal Me Head, which reached more than 300,000 readers a month online. He has written articles for both the Tulsa World and The Oklahoman. He regularly speaks at local events and schools, and dedicates much of his editorial efforts at This Land Press toward community improvement.
Mason is also a member of the PEN American Center, an international organization of writers who champion freedom of expression. In addition to his writing projects, Mason has produced several feature works that have played on public radio stations across the nation. In a project with Tulsa author Jeff Martin, Mason produced one of Oklahoma’s most popular podcasts, “Goodbye Tulsa,” a show that told the story of Tulsa through the lives of its citizens. Mason continues to oversee radio productions through This Land Radio, a weekly hour-long radio show broadcast in Oklahoma.
In the fall of 2010, Mason devoted his full energies to This Land Press. In its first several months of publication, This Land Press achieved international recognition for its journalism. As a media company, This Land publishes an acclaimed bi-weekly broadsheet, produces nationally-broadcast radio programs, airs a weekly TV show, distributes an iPad app, and operates one of the largest online social media communities in Oklahoma. The Columbia Journalism Review called it “The New Yorker with balls,” and “a rare example of literary journalism on the community level.”
In This Land’s first issue, Mason helped writer Randy Potts relay the story of growing up gay in the Oral Roberts family–an article which has since inspired thousands across the globe. In the second issue, Mason encouraged reporter Denver Nicks to delve deeply into the early life of alleged Wikileaker Bradley Manning, resulting in an exclusive report noted by TIME, Harper’s, and a number of other national and international media outlets, all of which earned Nicks his first book deal on the life of Manning. In Issue four, journalist Jennie Lloyd came to him with a lengthy essay detailing her detention in a public Oklahoma mental institution. Like Nellie Bly before her, she crafted a harrowing exposé of the cracks in the foundation of statewide mental health care. The article “Asylum” became a tool to reform mental health care and earned Lloyd a Great Plains Journalism award for best feature writing. Most recently, his work with investigative reporter Kiera Feldman was designated by both Longreads and The Daily Beast/Newsweek as the top non-fiction article of the year for 2012, for the story “Grace in Broken Arrow.”
Mason is currently at work on a non-fiction book called The Human Assembly: The Discovery, History, and Industry of our Parts, Tissues, and Organs, to be published by Farrar, Straus & Giroux.