John Leo (born June 16, 1935) is a writer and editor in chief of Minding the Campus, an independent, non-profit web site on America's colleges and universities. He joined the Manhattan Institute as a senior fellow in 2007 to launch the project and developed the site at the Institute for the past 8 years. He is also a Visitor of Ralston College, a start-up liberal arts college in Savannah.
From 1988 to 2006 his weekly column for U.S. News & World Report was syndicated to 140 newspapers by Universal Press Syndicate. The column focused mainly on social and cultural issues, most commonly political correctness, but also advertising, movies, language, the news media, higher education, pop psychology and the self-esteem movement. His 1995 column on Time-Warner, terming it America's "leading cultural polluter", sparked the campaign that led to Time-Warner's decision to sell off its 50 percent share in Interscope Records, a heavy producer of gangsta rap.
Leo is a graduate of Regis High School in New York City (1952) and the University of Toronto (1957). He covered the criminal courts for the Bergen Record of Hackensack, New Jersey, for three years before becoming editor in 1960 of the Catholic Messenger, published by the diocese of Davenport, Iowa.
In 1963, he became an associate editor of Commonweal in New York, an independent Catholic magazine. In his weekly column for the National Catholic Reporter (1964–1967) he pushed hard for free speech and greater openness in the church. In this campaign he attracted many critics and was disinvited as a speaker several times and banned in the diocese of Allentown. When the Reverend Daniel Berrigan, a flamboyant anti-Vietnam-war Jesuit, was exiled to Latin America and put under a vow of silence, Leo broke the story in his column and Berrigan was quickly brought back home.
The New York Times hired Leo in 1967 as its first reporter to cover the intellectual world. After leaving the Times, he was named an assistant administrator in New York City's Environmental Protection Administration. He returned to journalism and inaugurated the Press Clips column in The Village Voice and served as book editor of the sociological magazine, Society.
From 1974 to 1987 he worked at Time as writer of the behavior section, which covered psychology, psychiatry, feminism and intellectual trends. He also wrote essays and humor, including the Ralph-and-Wanda dialogues between a liberal feminist and her curmudgeonly husband.
Leo served on the board of advisers of the Columbia Journalism Review for ten years and on the church-state committee of the American Civil Liberties Union for two years. He has taught journalism at St. Ambrose University in Davenport and non-fiction writing at Southampton College on Long Island.
He wrote that researchers should not worry about the effects of their findings, noting, "You're just supposed to tell your peers what you found. I don't expect academics to fret about these matters," regarding a study showing that diversity decreases the social capital of a community.
His book of humor, How the Russians Invented Baseball and Other Essays of Enlightenment (ISBN 978-0385297585), appeared in 1989. His other books are Two Steps Ahead of the Thought Police (ISBN 978-0765804006, 1994) and Incorrect Thoughts (ISBN 978-0765800381, 2001).
- John Leo on US News & World Report
- Time Bombs, City Journal
- Biographical Dictionary of American Newspaper Columnists
- John Leo's Bio at the Manhattan Institute
- Time Magazine Masthead 1988
- http://www.boston.com/news/globe/ideas/articles/2007/08/05/the_downside_of_diversity The Boston Globe – "The downside of diversity: A Harvard political scientist finds that diversity hurts civic life. What happens when a liberal scholar unearths an inconvenient truth?".