Stephen G. Smith, former editor of U.S. News & World Report and
National Journal, is joining the Brookings Institution as vice president for communications, Brookings President Strobe Talbott announced today.
Smith will oversee the dissemination of work by Brookings scholars—on the Institution’s website, in policy papers, and at public events and press briefings. He also will work on refinements of the Brookings website, which was recently redesigned and reorganized; develop new ways to inform the public on policy issues; and handle reports to Brookings board and council members.
“It’s hard to imagine someone who knows Washington, the media, and national and international issues better than Steve,” Talbott said. “He’s got just about the perfect combination of professionalism, management skills, and appreciation of the core mission of Brookings and its scholars.”
For the past two months, Smith has been filling in for Ron Nessen, who has been recuperating from a heart attack and bypass surgery. Nessen, who had been vice president for communications since 1999, asked to return to Brookings in a different capacity and now becomes Journalist in Residence. He will research, analyze, and write about media issues, as well as explore distribution channels for regular Brookings television and radio programs.
“Ron made an enormous contribution to our communications operations, notably in establishing a TV studio at Brookings and helping to overhaul the website,” Talbott said. “His ability to explain the workings of the news media will greatly enhance our analysis of public policy.”
Smith, 54, is a journalist and manager of wide experience. He served as Nation editor of Time and executive editor of Newsweek, making him the only journalist to hold senior-level positions at the three major newsmagazines. He was also founding editor of Civilization, which won a National Magazine Award for General Excellence after its first year of publication. While editor of U.S. News, the newsweekly won a National Magazine Award for General Excellence Online. Smith previously worked as a reporter and editor at the Philadelphia Inquirer and the Boston Globe and as Washington news editor for Knight Ridder Newspapers.
“This is a logical extension of my career in journalism,” Smith said. “Brookings is justly famous for its independent, nonpartisan research into the major issues of the day, and bringing that work to the attention of policymakers and the public is a wonderfully exciting prospect.”
Smith grew up in New York City and graduated from the University of Pennsylvania, where he is a member of the Board of Overseers. He is also a member of the Council on Foreign Relations. He is married to Sally Bedell Smith—author of critically acclaimed biographies of William S. Paley and Pamela Harriman—who is at work on a book about the Kennedy White House. The couple has three children.