Chris Tomlinson is a New York Times bestselling-author, filmmaker and journalist living in Austin, Texas. He writes a twice-weekly column for the Houston Chronicle and previously was the supervisory correspondent for The Associated Press in Austin, responsible for political and state government reporting from 2011-2014.
He is the author of Tomlinson Hill: Sons of Slaves, Sons of Slaveholders which chronicles the history of two Tomlinson families, one black and one white, who trace their history to a Central Texas slave plantation. He is also the producer of Tomlinson Hill: Are We Equal Yet, an award-winning documentary film that examines how race still shapes the community where his family’s slave plantation was located.
Tomlinson is also a Fellow in Journalism at the Robert Strauss Center for International Security and Law and has lectured at the LBJ School for Public Affairs and the University of Texas at Austin Department of Journalism. Tomlinson was a Correspondent-at-Large for The Associated Press conducting special investigations from 2007-2009. He was the East Africa bureau chief from 2004-2007, responsible for text, photo and television coverage in 14 countries. Tomlinson started with the AP in 1995 as the Central Africa correspondent based in Kigali, Rwanda, where he covered the aftermath of the 1994 genocide, the civil war in Burundi and a rebellion in Congo.
Drawing on his experience as a U.S. soldier, the AP assigned Tomlinson to cover the invasion of Afghanistan in 2001 where he reported from Tora Bora. He covered the military build-up in the Persian Gulf and was chosen as the AP’s lead embedded reporter for the 2003 invasion of Iraq. Tomlinson has also covered stories as diverse as an Ebola outbreak, the tsunami, civil war in Somalia and scuba diving.
The New York Association of Black Journalists gave Tomlinson its top award for international reporting in 2008 for a series called “Rethinking Africa.” Tomlinson received awards from the Military Reporter’s and Editor’s Association and the Associated Press Managing Editors for his reporting from Iraq. Tomlinson graduated from the University of Texas at Austin in December 1992 with Special Honors in Humanities. He served in the U.S. Army from 1983-90 as a military intelligence analyst.
Chris has lectured around the world on Africa, terrorism, international relations, development and race relations, including at Cambridge University, Oxford University, Columbia University, University of Texas at Austin and at U.S. military installations. He has taught writing at the University of Texas at Austin Department of Journalism and the Lyndon B. Johnson School of Public Affairs. If you are interested in having Chris speak to your group, please click “Say Hello” at the bottom of the page.
Honors, Citations, and Prizes
Silver Heart Award, Dallas International Film Festival, as producer of “Tomlinson Hill,” a documentary film, 2013.
International Reporting Award, N.Y. Association of Black Journalists, for seven part series called Rethinking Africa, 2008
Military Reporters and Editors Award for Distinguished Reporting, 2004
AP Managing Editor’s Honorable Mention for Feature Writing, 2003
AP Minnesota Staffer of the Year, 1997
Army Commendation Medal, Army Achievement Medal, with three oak leaf clusters, Good Conduct Medal with one knot, Overseas Service Ribbon with numeral two
Previously Held Positions
Managing Editor, The Texas Observer, Austin, Texas; August 2009-Dec. 2010 -Responsible for operations at a non-profit, non-partisan, biweekly magazine and daily website.
International Correspondent, The Associated Press, Austin, Texas; August 2007-August 2009 -Wrote investigative reports and special projects.
Chief of Bureau, AP, Nairobi, Kenya June 2004-August 2007 -Responsible for text, photo, video and multi-media coverage of 14 countries in East Africa -Major stories included Somalia, Ethiopia, South Sudan, Kenya and Uganda -Special assignments included the Iraq War and the 2004 Indian Ocean Tsunami.
Correspondent, AP, Nairobi, Kenya August 2000-May 2004 -Major stories included conflicts in Somalia, Congo, Sudan and Uganda -Special assignments included the 2001 Battle of Tora Bora in Afghanistan and the 2003 invasion of Iraq.
International Desk Editor, AP, New York February 1998-July 2000
Correspondent, AP, Kigali, Rwanda October 1995-January 1997 -Text, photo and video reporter covering post-genocide Rwanda, a coup in Burundi and civil war in Zaire.
Signals Intelligence Analyst and Reporter, U.S. Army June 1983-June 1990 -Posted at Fort Hood, Texas; Field Station Okinawa, Japan, Fort Meade, Maryland; and Bad Aibling, Germany.
Bachelor’s degree in Humanities with Special Honors, University of Texas at Austin, 1992