Evan Smith is the CEO and editor in chief of the Texas Tribune. Previously he spent nearly 18 years at Texas Monthly, stepping down in August 2009 as the magazine’s president and editor in chief. He previously served as editor for more than eight years—only the third person to hold that title. On his watch, Texas Monthly was nominated for 16 National Magazine Awards, the magazine industry’s equivalent of the Pulitzer Prize, and twice was awarded the National Magazine Award for General Excellence. For eight years, he hosted the Lone Star Emmy Award-winning weekly interview program Texas Monthly Talks, which aired on PBS stations statewide. He currently hosts Overheard With Evan Smith, airing on PBS stations nationally. A New York native, he has a bachelor’s degree in public policy from Hamilton College and a master’s degree in journalism from Northwestern University.
For decades, the state’s big urban newspapers helped bind together the inhabitants of our major cities. Now those papers are threatened by a rapidly evolving (some might say collapsing) business model. Is there hope for daily journalism in Texas?
“I don’t like confrontation, although it’s alleged that I do. But I learned playing football that confrontation is necessary. You’d better get another sport if you don’t acknowledge and accept and willfully go after confrontation.”
Nine years as editor of this magazine taught me a few things, like failure is always an option, the writers are usually right, and whatever you do, stay far, far away from postcoital astronauts.
“I don’t let people run over me. From the very beginning, I’ve never changed my ideas about what music should be.”
“The complexities of the world are just now being tippy-toed into by churches, and that keeps us out of a place where people can find us, where they’re building community. It’s not that we’re locked out; it’s that we can’t find the door.”
“The great cities of the world are not defined by one or two ethnicities, religions, or backgrounds. It must be that way for San Antonio as well.”
“People are going to hit, or they’re not going to hit. Some guys are going to have a better season than they had before, and some aren’t. There’s not a whole lot I can do except put the right players in the right positions and expect them to perform.”
“As Texas moves toward majority Hispanic status, the Republicans are going to have to do less shouting, less shorthand, and less sloganeering and court the Latino community in a way that’s relevant to Latino individuals—whether on education, taxes, or job creation.”
“When you come with absolutely zero connections, you have to claw your way up, which I did.”
“Here’s the thing: I was born and raised in eastern Kentucky. I wasn’t born in downtown Paris. What do I love? I love Southern food. I love soul food. I love barbecue. I learned about food in dives. ”
“When his political people run the numbers, they see a different Texas, an emerging Texas. One that includes some of our more-conservative elements—God bless them, I respect them—but younger Texans as well. A Texas that is looking for change.”