Update on Terence Smith

January 13th, 2006

The text below was posted byJim Romenesko on his widely-read website yesterday.

Posted By: Jim Romenesko

I asked Terence Smith about his “NewsHour” retirement and the next chapter of his life. Here’s his reply.

At my initiative and after nearly eight years with The NewsHour with Jim Lehrer, I have stepped down as Media Correspondent and Senior Producer.

I’ll continue to be available to contribute to the broadcast as a Special Correspondent, but I expect to spend more time writing, speaking, traveling and teaching.

In addition, I am already contributing commentaries to National Public Radio, publishing free lance pieces, moderating panels and serving on boards ranging from the Fund for Investigative Journalism to the University of Maryland’s Center for Environmental Science.

I have launched a website, terencefsmith.com, and a blog, of course, and will continue to fill in as a substitute host on The Diane Rehm show on NPR. Beyond that, I want to save plenty of time for tennis, skiing and sailing.

You asked about my thoughts about the industry.

After 20 years in print with The New York Times, and 20 in television with CBS and PBS, I see the news business as more vital, more central and more troubled than ever. The industry is changing with frightening speed, booming in a few sectors like public radio and the internet, hurting economically in others such as newspapers and network news, and under pressure ethically throughout. But at the same time – we shouldn’t lose sight of this – it is vastly more diverse, professional, educated and influential than it was when I first went to work with a bunch of other white guys as a reporter for the Stamford Advocate in Connecticut straight out of college. I think American journalism gets more intriguing, more important and more challenging all the time.

Last month, for example, I was in Dubai in the United Arab Emirates at an Aspen Institute forum on U.S. and Arab media that looked hard at the stereotyping, intolerance, bigotry and outright ignorance that emerges in each side’s reporting on the other. The 31 participating journalists and academics, Americans and Arabs alike, held up a mirror to each other and found more similarities than differences.

Next fall, I am scheduled to be at Fudan University in Shanghai, China, conducting a 10-day journalism seminar for reporters in that incredible country. Also in the fall, I will spend two weeks on the campus of my alma mater, the University of Notre Dame, as journalist-in-residence, among a generation that is better educated and more questioning than any that have come before.

Finally, I have in mind two books, one on the Middle East and one on the Chesapeake Bay, that I would like to get written in the next couple of years.

So, after 40-plus years in daily journalism, and suddenly freed from the familiar demands of a daily deadline, I find there is no shortage of things I want to do, only the time to do them.


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