Evan Smith

Author's Profile Photo

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.

Articles by Evan Smith

Bum Rap

Jan 1, 2008 By Evan Smith

The bar was set pretty high even before last year’s Bum Steers cover was named one of seven winners in the American Society of Magazine Editors’ annual Best Cover Contest. I mean, honestly: How to top Dick Cheney with a scowl and a shotgun? It’s not as if there was…

Meat the Press

Dec 1, 2007 By Evan Smith

I’m not cowed by the idea of admitting to things that put me on the banks of the mainstream in Texas—rooting for the New York Yankees (give me an alternative!), thinking Cormac McCarthy’s books are boring (get a rope!)—so I may as well also cop to the following: The cover…

Kay Bailey Hutchison

Dec 1, 2007 By Evan Smith

“The government didn’t understand the importance of saying to us, ‘This is a war for freedom every bit as much as World Wars I and II.’”

Joel Osteen

Oct 31, 2007 By Evan Smith

“I have got something that God has entrusted me with, and I have to make the most of it in helping other people.”

The Center Holds

Oct 31, 2007 By Evan Smith

Several of this month’s letters to the editor, responding to our September issue, fall into two categories: those from angry liberals and those from angry conservatives. The libs rabidly attack Gary Cartwright for refusing to canonize Austin’s own Vegan de Milo, shopping center owner Jeanne Daniels, whose commitment…

The Ones That Got Away

Sep 30, 2007 By Evan Smith

One of the inevitable realities of being in business for nearly 35 years is that you have a lot of ex-employees (all of them gruntled, I’m sure). Even though a surprisingly high number of the names on our masthead—seven!—have been here for more than three decades, the vast majority…

Mrs. J

Aug 31, 2007 By Evan Smith

My very first issue as the editor of this magazine—August 2000—had Lady Bird Johnson on the cover, flanked by her daughters, Lynda and Luci. Back then I hadn’t yet met the matriarch of Texas’s first family; certainly she didn’t know me from Adam (or Greg). But we would become acquainted…

King for a Day

Jul 31, 2007 By Evan Smith

This month’s cover story is one for the history books—in two ways. First, because executive editor Sam Gwynne’s report on the myth, majesty, and future of the King Ranch (“The Next Frontier,”) is as sweeping as the ranch itself, and second, because it’s a report from the inside.

I’m With the Brand

Jun 30, 2007 By Evan Smith

I’m not sure exactly when it happened, but the worm finally turned sometime in the past year or two on the question of whether a magazine can survive without a Web site. For a while, I suppose, you didn’t necessarily need one, though we’ve been online in some form…

Lawrence Wright

Jun 30, 2007 By Evan Smith

“Al Qaeda would not have been able to come back to life, in my opinion, had we not invaded Iraq. That action breathed life back into the movement.”

Dealey or No Dealey

May 31, 2007 By Evan Smith

AT SOME POINT EARLY IN THE PLANNING of this issue, our articles editor, Brian Sweany, asked if it was a problem that two stories hinge on the Kennedy assassination: the excerpt (“The President Is Dead, You Know,”) from LBJ consigliere Jack Valenti’s memoir and my interview with actor Bill…

A M*A*S*H Note

Apr 30, 2007 By Evan Smith

IN THE END, I HAD VISIONS OF HENRY BLAKE. Surely at least a few of you remember the character played by McLean Stevenson on the TV version of M*A*S*H: the lovable goofball of a lieutenant colonel who commanded the 4077th, a ragtag surgical unit doing its best to save lives…

The Profanity Defense

Mar 31, 2007 By Evan Smith

MY MOTHER WASN’T A LONGSHOREMAN. My father wasn’t a mob boss. They weren’t church choir directors either, but they certainly didn’t raise me to drop the F-bomb in conversation as liberally as you might sprinkle salt on french fries. Despite their best efforts, I have what can charitably be described…

Phyllis George
Phyllis George

Mar 1, 2007 By Evan Smith

“When a person meets a Miss America, they’re still impressed. They’re like, ‘Oh, my gosh, you were Miss America?’”

Legacies

Mar 1, 2007 By Evan Smith

ONLY A HIGHER POWER with a truly perverse streak would have deposited the Decider and the Derider in the same social circle—Houston’s close-knit private-school world—as teenagers. As the latter told me in an interview several years ago, the former “hung out with friends of mine and dated some girls I…

Joe Ely

Feb 1, 2007 By Evan Smith

“You feel like you’re passing through time, but you don’t really feel like you’re leaving any time behind. You’re kind of in the moment, because the wind’s in your face and there’s always another highway.”

Nobody but Craddick

Feb 1, 2007 By Evan Smith

“IF YOU’RE GOING TO SHOOT THE KING, you’d better kill the king.” That’s what famous blogger and occasional journalist Paul Burka, our senior executive editor, told me on the phone the morning of Saturday, December 23, as I was huffing and puffing between sets of tennis. He had called to…

Dick Armey

Jan 1, 2007 By Evan Smith

“If we advocate righteousness and if in the way we live our lives we exemplify righteousness, we are winning by doing our duty. But if we try to mandate righteousness, we are wrong.”

Our Cover Is Blown

Jan 1, 2007 By Evan Smith

IT WILL SHOCK AND DISTURB YOU—OR MAYBE it won’t—to learn that there are no original ideas in the magazine business; there are only good, worthwhile, creative riffs on original ideas. All of us who assign stories know what we like, and our job is to figure out how to do…

Forest Whitaker

Dec 1, 2006 By Evan Smith

“What does it say about us as humans beings when we listen to leaders who lie to us and, as a result, thousands of people are killed?”

Now Serving

Dec 1, 2006 By Evan Smith

THERE’S A CONTROVERSIAL WAR GOING ON, the aftermath of an election to mop up, the stock market rising, the price of oil falling, famine, pestilence—and our December cover story is about tacos? You bet. For as long as there’s been a Texas Monthly, the very best service journalism has had…

Molly Ivins

Nov 1, 2006 By Evan Smith

“The newspaper business? I don’t mind being in a dying industry, but it really pisses me off to be in one that’s committing suicide.”

The Spy Who Loved Them

Nov 1, 2006 By Evan Smith

WHEN I MOVED TO TEXAS TO WORK for Texas Monthly in late 1991, the two words staring out at me from an upcoming cover were “Aggie Sex.” Was I on a different planet? I quickly got up to speed on what an Aggie was—sex I’d heard of—but it took me…

James Baker

Sep 30, 2006 By Evan Smith

“You know, talking to people is not appeasement if you know what you’re doing and you’re a good, hard-nosed negotiator. There ought to be nothing wrong with diplomacy.”

Dear John

Sep 30, 2006 By Evan Smith

HE DESCRIBED HIS LETTER to me as “an inquiry from the fringe of things,” a turn of phrase every bit as elegant as I would have expected from its author. He informed me that, at 86, he didn’t write much anymore, at least not for public consumption, but that as…

Betty Buckley

Aug 31, 2006 By Evan Smith

“I’m a good ol’ girl from Texas, and sometimes people misinterpret that Texas thing. I’ve learned to tone it down, but it’s been a drag. It’s the unfortunate aftermath of having gone to the mat with the wrong guys in Hollywood.’

Editor's Letter
Full Disclosure

Aug 31, 2006 By Evan Smith

I’M CONFLICTED. On the one hand, I feel strongly that the editor of a magazine should be able to have friends, acquaintances, and organizational ties that are occasionally newsworthy. And just because the editor has newsworthy associations, the magazine should not be precluded from covering a story related to those…

Joe Allbaugh

Jul 31, 2006 By Evan Smith

“They take a shot at the presidency indirectly through me, which is fine . . . It just angers me that our professional journalists have accepted lower standards. I feel like Sergeant Friday: ‘Just the facts, ma’am.’”

Change, Pardners

Jul 31, 2006 By Evan Smith

Two related points about the state of the increasingly crazy business we’re in. First, like delicate species in the ecosystem, magazines can’t survive if they don’t adapt. Second, rumors of print journalism’s death have been greatly exaggerated, but as with so many overstatements, there’s an embedded grain of truth, and…

Eileen Collins

Jun 30, 2006 By Evan Smith

“It’s funny: I’ve never been scared on a shuttle mission. It’s just the nature of the job. You’re busy, you’re focused, you’re well trained, and you go, ‘You know, if I’m going to die, there’s nothing I can do about it.’”

Independent’s Day

Jun 30, 2006 By Evan Smith

YES, THAT’S GUBERNATORIAL CANDIDATE Kinky Friedman—four words I’ve yet to utter with a straight face—on our cover this month, dressed somewhat less outlandishly than in the past. The last time (July 2004), you’ll recall, he was elegantly done up like the queen of England, as feminine as a swarthy man…

Money Talks

May 31, 2006 By Evan Smith

Wealthy Republican donor James Leininger on why he supports school vouchers and opposes apostates in his party.

Lights Out?

May 31, 2006 By Evan Smith

I’m going to go out on a limb here—but not too far—and predict that supporters of Chris Bell’s campaign for governor will be angry when they read “He’s Sisyphus, and He Approves This Message”, by executive editor S. C. Gwynne. But misery loves company: Residents of Marfa, the Presidio…

Betty Flores

May 31, 2006 By Evan Smith

“We don’t look at color, we don’t look at religion, we don’t look at economic means. Laredo is a real laid-back, accept-everybody kind of place.”

Lyle Lovett

Apr 30, 2006 By Evan Smith

“It’s immensely gratifying to work with people who are trying to do their best at what they do toward a common end. And whether it’s an arrangement or the performance of a single song, I just love the feeling of watching three or four or sixteen people all working together.”

Exit, Stage Right

Apr 30, 2006 By Evan Smith

AS IT HAPPENS, we had already planned a May cover on Tom DeLay—on his political difficulties, on his ethical problems, on the ongoing investigation by Travis County DA Ronnie Earle into various alleged campaign finance shenanigans—when the defanged House majority leader announced he was withdrawing from his reelection race and…

Pete Laney

Apr 1, 2006 By Evan Smith

“There are a lot more people in the Democratic party who do what the Good Book says: Take care of the poor and the afflicted and the downtrodden.”

Design of The Times

Apr 1, 2006 By Evan Smith

ONCE UPON A TIME, MAGAZINES redesigned every few years, in response to changing tastes and the possibilities presented by evolving technology. These days, if you want to ensure that the sell-by date on your most creative impulses doesn’t pass, it makes sense to redesign more often. This month, thanks to…

Around the State
Bush’s War

Mar 1, 2006 By Evan Smith

Will Iraq be the president’s legacy? A conversation with eminent historians H. W. Brands and Doris Kearns Goodwin.

Laura Miller

Feb 1, 2006 By Evan Smith

“The problem is that there’s nobody who can put their foot down and say, ‘Yep, by God, we’re going to do this . . .’ It’s a city without leadership.”

Louis Sachar

Jan 1, 2006 By Evan Smith

“Any idea you can think up and plan out isn’t going to be that good. There’s no way I could have thought up all of Holes beforehand.”

Willie Nelson

Dec 1, 2005 By Evan Smith

“I always thought that if I was having fun doing what I was doing and making a living doing it, then I was already successful.”

Robert Rivard

Nov 1, 2005 By Evan Smith

“People speak nostalgically about family newspapers. For every decent one, there were literally hundreds of embarrassingly bad ones.”