Smith joins The Cordova Times team

Recently relocated from Australia, newspaper welcomes journalist to Cordova

Zachary Snowdon Smith and Elin Lissheim visit Lady Barron Falls in Tasmania, Australia on Tuesday, May 8, 2018. Photo courtesy Zachary Snowdon Smith

Dear readers,

The Cordova Times is proud to announce the addition of Zachary Snowdon Smith to our team this week. Smith hit the pavement running, and readers and sources may already be spotting him in the field — camera and pen in hand — at city council, Fourth of July festivities and elsewhere around Cordova.

Smith’s first article headlined Four crew rescued as fire consumes F/V Skadi appeared online Monday.  

He relocated to Cordova from Melbourne, Australia in late June and brings with him a wealth of journalism experience. He told me how warm his reception from the community has been, and frankly, I’m not a bit surprised that he is getting a classic Cordova-style welcome.

Zachary Snowdon Smith at the studios of BOOM, the University of Oklahoma’s award-winning student radio station, in Norman, Oklahoma. Photo courtesy Zachary Snowdon Smith

The child of American and Australian parents, Smith grew up in the American Heartland. He obtained a bachelor’s degree in journalism and mass communication from the University of Oklahoma in 2013.  During his time in Oklahoma, Smith covered state politics for OU Student Media and reported on the disastrous 2013 Moore, Oklahoma tornado for local news outlets.

Zachary Snowdon Smith directs the Gambia National Youth Chess Tournament in the village of Massembeh. Held May 5-7, 2017, this was the first youth chess tournament in the small nation’s history. Photo courtesy Zachary Snowdon Smith

Smith joined the Peace Corps in 2015, deploying to the Gambia, West Africa. Roughly the size of Connecticut and relying on peanut farming to sustain its economy, the Gambia is an often-overlooked nation, according to Smith. In the Gambia, Smith spearheaded a series of educational programs, building a library in the bush village of Kapa, and organizing literacy and music education workshops. He also led a project to form and supply chess clubs in 50 rural communities that lacked healthy outlets for competition among youth.

In May 2017, Smith directed the Gambia’s first national youth chess tournament, with fundraising assistance from former Women’s World Chess Champion Alexandra Kosteniuk and two-time US Women’s Chess Champion Nazí Paikidze. While in the Gambia, Smith also covered the downfall of eccentric strongman Yahya Jammeh, who had ruled the country for 22 years.

Zachary Snowdon Smith leads a library management workshop in the Gambia, West Africa. This workshop helped teachers in the rural village of Kapa prepare to organize and operate their new school library. Photo courtesy Zachary Snowdon Smith
Zachary Snowdon Smith manufactures bricks in the remote village of Kapa in the Gambia, West Africa. Made from a mixture of mud and concrete and dried in the sun, these bricks were used to build a new community library. Photo courtesy Zachary Snowdon Smith

Following his Peace Corps service, Smith pursued a master’s degree in journalism at the University of Melbourne, which is consistently named Australia’s top university by Times Higher Education. While attending graduate school, Smith wrote prolifically for the Australian music press, interviewing artists such as Muse, Regina Spektor, the Offspring and Nickelback. Smith’s profile of the feud between Melbourne’s two leading jazz clubs earned a nomination for a 2018 Ossie Award.

After finishing graduate school, Smith’s search for “a paper that prized quality journalism over clicks” led him to The Cordova Times.

Smith’s predecessor at the newspaper, Emily Mesner, was also an excellent journalist and she won multiple Alaska Press Club awards for her work with us. Her shoes were not easy to fill, and I want our readers to know I’m very happy Smith has decided to move here and join our team.

I encourage you to reach out to him directly with news tips, story ideas and anything that might help him settle into his role, learn about Cordova and help us tell the stories our readers want. You can reach him at zsmith@thecordovatimes.com and his desk phone is 907-424-2223.

As always, we welcome letters to the editor up to 300 words, thank you letters up to 150 words, and article and guest commentary submissions up to 750 words. Send those and photos for This Week in Photos to share@thecordovatimes.com to reach our entire staff.

Thank you, readers! Please subscribe to the newspaper at thecordovatimes.com/subscribe and keep reading.