Ward will be inducted into R.I. Journalism Hall of Fame

Ward will be inducted into R.I. Journalism Hall of Fame

CUMBERLAND – Tom Ward, founder and publisher of The Valley Breeze Newspapers, will be inducted into the Rhode Island Journalism Hall of Fame this spring.

Ward’s honor comes two years after the Rhode Island Press Association announced the induction of then-Breeze Editor Marcia Green, who was with Ward from when he started the local newspaper in 1996, and one year after the induction of Peter Connell, the late sports writer and editor for Observer Publications, Inc. and The Valley Breeze & Observer.

“Tom Ward has been ingrained in northern Rhode Island for more than 20 years since establishing The Valley Breeze. In an era where newspapers across the country have gone through significant changes, Tom has been able to grow his operation, turning a grassroots effort into one of the more prominent publications in the state,” states RIPA in explaining the honor.

“He also over the years has had a strong staff, particularly in editorial, dedicated to covering the various communities, from Cumberland to Woonsocket to North Providence and Smithfield, from every angle and delivering important news to its readers,” it adds. “His work in journalism extends beyond his current efforts with The Breeze, such as his time as photojournalist and Sunday editor of The Woonsocket Call for close to 15 years and as news editor with The Fall River Herald News in the early 1990s. It is these efforts that make Tom very deserving of being elected into the Rhode Island Journalism Hall of Fame.”

The Rhode Island Journalism Hall of Fame was established in 1985 by the Rhode Island Press Association to honor journalists who have been influential in their profession.

“It’s certainly an honor to be recognized with this award by the Rhode Island Press Association,” said Ward. “I’ve been in this business for 42 years now, and it has been a rewarding career from my earliest days as a news photographer.”

Breeze Editor Ethan Shorey explained why Ward is so deserving of the honor.

“In an era where publications are increasingly owned by large corporations with little connection to the communities they serve, Tom has run The Breeze with an unwavering commitment to delivering excellent local news coverage that matters to his neighbors and people he sees every day at the coffee shop or community events,” he said. “No other newspaper owner that I’ve heard of would wake up early on a cold January morning to fill in on a delivery route, run out to take a photo when no one else is available, or change a scheduled vacation to make sure readers get the quality they deserve.”

Ward said he’s mostly being honored for his founding of The Valley Breeze, but the publication has always been about many more people than him.

“I was helped at the start by Jamie Quinn, my partner and deputy publisher, who created the advertising art and did the production work. Barbara Phinney has been with The Breeze since I tried unsuccessfully to do my first payroll. Both still serve here,” he said. “Marcia Green, now retired, was an exceptional editor from day one.”

Ward said he was very pleased that Green was honored with the same award in 2017.

“Her getting this award first was exactly how it should have been,” he said.

“Since those early days 23 years ago, I have been fortunate to have at my side many, many talented and kind people who understood that our mission was service to the community. Many are still with us today,” he said.

“The Valley Breeze has been both an exhilarating and humbling ride, and it has become much more than I expected it to be in March 1996. As a free newspaper, I will be forever grateful to the thousands of small businesses and readers through the years who supported us and made our growth possible.”

Quinn congratulated Ward on the honor.

“It may have been hard to imagine our success, especially from our early days starting out in a makeshift office in Tom’s living room, working at desks built on saw horses and his cat sleeping on my computer. Over these 23 years, we’ve watched The Breeze and papers grow, our families along with it, and feel fortunate to have been part of it all, with my partner and friend,” he said. “I’m proud of the work we’ve done, thankful for the amazing people who have been part of our success, and appreciative of Tom’s vision and drive. His passion for local news and commitment to community is in his blood, and why I am delighted he is being honored by the Rhode Island Press Association’s Hall of Fame.”

Ward will be honored at RIPA’s annual awards banquet, set for April 26 at the Quonset “O” Club in North Kingstown. For those looking to attend, the cost is $45 per person, with a cash bar. Cocktails and appetizers will be served from 6 to 7 p.m., dinner at 7 p.m.

Mail registration information and payment (checks only) no later than April 19 to: Sarah Francis, RIPA Treasurer, c/o Rhode Island Monthly, 717 Allens Ave., Suite 105, Providence, RI 02905.


I intend to go to this Awards Dinner...and I encourage as many Citizens that feel as I do, especially Cumberland residents, to join me.

Tom deserves the recognition and support for what he has accomplished, not only for this Town, but all of Northern RI.

He having done so, as he humbly states, with and because of his TEAM...creating the Valley Breeze. It, today, beyond question, the finest newspaper in this State.

The Breeze, weekly, bringing us the important news of our communities.

Details on obtaining tickets are at end of the article. I would not hesitate...if ever an event was destined to be a sell out, no offense to Bruce Springsteen...this is it!!!

Tom Letourneau

Hard earned and well deserved! Congratulations!

I remember seeing you filling your racks when you first started.
Saw you at House Of Pizza, Eggs Up and Mendon Liquor....
Time to sell and cash in!!!!!!


Congratulations on your upcoming induction into the Rhode Island Journalism Hall of Fame this spring.

Yes, you have been fortunate and blessed to have had very talented staff and kind people by your side, but this association requires a good leader who cares for people and its staff, which you have been—-as proven by your success! Your own staff has received various awards as well.

The 'thousands of small businesses' and people who supported you also trusted in your judgment and character, and believed that you would be successful in establishing your “free” newspaper, the Valley Breeze.

Thank you for this great newspaper! You truly deserve this honor!