Ron Smith, managing editor for news at USA Today and former deputy managing editor at the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, will become the new editor of Milwaukee Neighborhood News Service on Feb. 1. NNS founding editor Sharon McGowan is retiring from the project after leading the organization for eight years.
At the Journal-Sentinel, Smith oversaw the breaking news hub and production desks, and was the key point person for print story selections and workflow. He moved to the Washington, D.C. area in 2016.
“NNS has emerged as a must-read in Milwaukee’s media landscape. And we are going to go even higher. We will celebrate the diversity in our communities, and we will deepen our reporting to become an even more ferocious watchdog for residents who are often ignored but whose voices need to be heard,” said Smith.
Smith holds a master’s degree in leadership from Marquette, where he has taught courses on leadership, journalism and communication. He has worked as an editor at The Oregonian, the Los Angeles Times and Newsday. He began his professional career as a reporter and editor for two weekly newspapers in the Los Angeles area before becoming a political reporter for a daily legal publication in downtown Los Angeles. Smith also has worked as an advertising sales director and as the interim student adviser for New Expression, a citywide teen publication written by and for Chicago youth.
Smith has edited several Pulitzer Prize-winning reports and is known for championing great journalism. In addition, he is active in the National Association of Black Journalists, the American Copy Editors Society and the Online News Association.
Smith, who will be joining the Department of Journalism and Media Studies faculty at Marquette’s Diederich College of Communication, has served as a visiting professor for the journalism program at the University of Kansas. He is the co-leadership chairman for the American Society of News Editors and serves as an instructor for the organization’s Emerging Leaders Institute, which trains diverse mid-career professionals to be newsroom leaders.
“Ron Smith is a great journalist, and a great person. I could not be happier that he will be coming back to Milwaukee as editor of NNS, and I know that he will do an outstanding job leading a top-notch staff,” McGowan said.