University News

Alum Reporting as Middle East Foreign Correspondent

December 08, 2014
Author: Bailey Bowthorpe
Category: Alumni

Alum Josh Smith reporting alongside US troops in Afghanistan. In one day of reporting in Afghanistan, journalist Josh Smith (‘09) wears many hats.

In the morning, he buttons up his shirt to meet with government leaders. Later, he switches to traditional Afghan garb to talk with locals to understand their life and culture, and then he exchanges that for a military-like helmet and vest to explore unanswered questions alongside Army troops.

After working at Southern Utah University’s University Journal, the Deseret News and the National Journal in Washington, DC, Smith’s journalism career has propelled him around the world as an expeditionary reporter for Stars and Stripes, a magazine that serves the United States military community, covering the troops in Afghanistan, where he has lived for almost two years.

Smith recently visited campus to share his story with students interested in traveling his same career path.  

As American troops have withdrawn from the area in the past year, Smith’s writing has shifted toward giving readers a glimpse into life in Afghanistan.

“My time in Afghanistan has shown and given me the opportunity to meet really incredible people who are risking a lot to tell stories that are often not really appreciated,” he said.

His recent stories have focused on Afghanistan’s presidential election, the training of Afghan troops as well as various cultural events.

Smith’s life in Afghanistan is something he says is often hard to explain because it is like a “whiplash between two worlds.” At one moment, he may be enjoying a night with friends and in the next instant he is rushing down the street, camera in hand, to cover a suicide bombing.

“People want to hear the Hollywood version of things where the bullet goes right by you, but the reality is that bullets hit a lot of people there,” he said. “We often approach war and conflict like we approach watching an action movie, we want to see it be really close in the end, but the fact is, the end result is rarely glamorous and not really exciting.” 

Along with writing feature stories, Smith also captures picture and video for Stars and Stripes. He credits the hands-on experience in various areas of news reporting such as television broadcasting and photojournalism at SUU as a reason for his success.

But most of all, Smith embodies hard work and good judgment. He is diligent in seeking out fascinating stories to share with is audience and ensures he is fair in what he reports. 

It is clear Smith is passionate about true journalistic ethics. He told the many aspiring journalists in the audience to, “care a little bit, pay attention, and support places that give people information they can trust.”

In just one week, Smith will make the long trip back to Afghanistan and begin, again, to wear his many hats and track down the next big story.



Contact Information:
Jennifer Burt
435-586-1997
burt@suu.edu