Hedrick Smith Profile

    • Hedrick Smith, Pulitzer Prize-winning former

New York Times

    • reporter and editor and Emmy Award-winning producer/correspondent, is one of America′s most distinguished journalists. He has covered Washington and world capitals for

The New York Times

    • , authored several best-selling books and created 20 award-winning PBS prime time specials and miniseries on Washington′s power game, Soviet perestroika, the global economy, education reform, health care, teen violence, terrorism and Wall Street.

After September 11th, Mr. Smith went Inside the Terror Network with PBS Frontline to show how Al Qaeda′s conspirators organized their attack and how the U.S. missed chances to catch them. He has since led Frontline investigative reports, Bigger Than Enron, The Wall Street Fix, Tax Me If You Can, Is Wal-Mart Good for America? and Can You Afford to Retire? These programs probed accounting scandals, conflicts on Wall Street, global trade, corporate fraud, the rising crisis in retirement funding, and their implications for American investors, workers and retirees. The Wall Street Fix won a prestigious Emmy for documentaries on business.

For 26 years, Mr. Smith served as a correspondent for The New York Times in Washington, Moscow, Cairo, Saigon, Paris and the American South. In 1971, as chief diplomatic correspondent, he was a member of the Pulitzer Prize-winning team that produced the Pentagon Papers series. In 1974, he won the Pulitzer Prize for International Reporting from Russia and Eastern Europe. From 1976-1988, he was The New York Times Washington bureau chief and chief correspondent.

Hedrick Smith has published several national best-selling books, including The Russians (1976), The Power Game: How Washington Works (1988), The New Russians (1990) and Rethinking America (1995). He has co-authored several other books. His newspaper career began with The Greenville (S.C.) News. After completing his B.A. at Williams College and doing graduate work at Oxford University, he worked for Universal Press International in Memphis, Nashville and Atlanta, 1959-62, and for The New York Times, 1962-88. He was awarded a Nieman Fellow at Harvard in 1969-70.

Mr. Smith began creating documentaries for PBS in 1989 with an adaptation from his best-selling book, The Power Game. His second documentary series, Inside Gorbachev′s USSR, broadcast on PBS in 1990, built on his experience as Moscow Bureau Chief for The New York Times in the 1970s, on his best selling book, The Russians, and on his subsequent coverage of Mikhail Gorbachev′s perestroika. Inside Gorbachev′s USSR won the duPont-Columbia grand prize in 1991 for the most outstanding public affairs production on U.S. television.

Mr. Smith′s most recent PBS miniseries, the two-hour prime time special, Making Schools Work, which broadcast in 2005, showed dramatic and surprising improvements in educational achievement among students from poor neighborhoods in previously low-performing schools. In two previous series, Challenge to America in 1994 and Surviving the Bottom Line in 1998, Hedrick Smith Productions compared American public schools and students with those in Germany, Japan and China, to see which nations and systems are gaining competitive advantage in the 21st century. By identifying school models and strategies that are generating large-scale success – lifting the performance of roughly two million low income and minority students – Making Schools Work offers examples that have enormous significance for American public education across the country.

In his documentaries, Mr. Smith′s work ranges widely with enduring impact and broad reach. His programs on Washington politics were not only popular but are now widely used in college and university courses. Before the 2000 election, PBS devoted an entire prime time evening to his pre-election special on U.S. health care, Critical Condition with Hedrick Smith, which was nominated for an Emmy. He has produced two four-hour miniseries on the impact of the global economy on the U.S. middle class, Challenge to America and Surviving the Bottom Line. For Black History month, he gave PBS viewers Duke Ellington′s Washington. A year later, he created Rediscovering Dave Brubeck, an intimate portrait of the legendary jazz pianist.

In September 1999, after deadly violence at several U.S. public schools, Smith produced a three-hour prime time special, Seeking Solutions, that broke new ground by showing effective grass roots responses in six American communities to teen violence, gangs, street crime and hate crime. The program won the 1999 public service award for television from Sigma Delta Chi, the national journalism society.

Almost all of Hedrick Smith′s productions have won awards from film festivals and competitions. The Power Game (1989), won the international RIAS prize as well as a CINE Golden Eagle, and his inner city documentary, Across the River (1995), about community building in crime-plagued neighborhoods of Washington, won the prestigious Sidney Hillman Award, among others. Five other documentaries have won CINE Golden Eagle Awards and others have brought home honors from film festivals.

PBS viewers saw Mr. Smith for 25 years as a principal panelist on Washington Week in Review and have also seen him as a special correspondent for The NewsHour with Jim Lehrer. Mr. Smith has received six honorary doctorate degrees and has spoken at several college commencements.

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    Mr. Smith constantly refreshes his repertoire of speech topics with new reporting for the flow of PBS specials that he has been producing since 1988. His most recent PBS production, Inside the Terror Network, for PBS Frontline, and his long experience covering American foreign policy as well as time in Cairo as a Times correspondent, position him well to talk about American policy and strategy in the wake of Sept. 11.

    Work and Family

    He has drawn another current lecture topic from another new PBS production, Juggling Work and Family, which PBS broadcast nationwide in late 2001 and again in January 2002. This broadcast is an outgrowth of Mr. Smith′s two PBS mini-series on the impact of the global economy on the American middle class. In this, as in other lectures on domestic problems in America, Mr. Smith deliberately focuses not only on chronic difficulties in American life but also on solutions to these problems being forged on the ground by American companies, unions and communities, as well as analysis of some of the public policy initiatives in this field.


    A third current topic benefits from Hedrick Smith′s decade-long interest in effective educational reform and reporting on schools and teaching that has taken him to three continents, studying both America′s competitors but some successful models of public school education in the United States. Tapped as the keynote speaker to a conference of the National Commission on Educational Goals, Mr. Smith reinforces the insights gained from years of reporting on educational issues with graphic, on-location video clips of both problems and models of success.

What People are Saying about Seeing Hedrick Speak

Rating Entries

    “Your address was an exceptional one – it will meet my test of being memorable without any question. Having you here was the fulfillment of a long held objective, but your perception, insight, clarity and charisma exceeded my expectations.”
    Thomas L. Stepp, President, University of South Carolina.

    “On behalf of the Smithsonian National Associate Program, please accept our profound thanks for your magnificent keynote address…Your insights reverberated throughout the week as successive speakers referred back to your comments. It made us all recall the true purpose of a keynote, and how seldom that purpose is realized….Your remarks inspired others…and we are immensely grateful…”
    Amy Warner, Seminar Coordinator, Smithsonian Institution

    “You did it again! You held the audience spellbound with your presentation on Russia to the NAM Board of Directors. I only regret you didn′t have three more hours to expand on your points and reply to questions.”
    Sandy Trowbridge, former President, National Assn.of Manufacturers

    “Please accept this totally inadequate word of thanks for your excellent, panoramic and engrossing discussion of our nation′s unfinished agenda in education.Your analysis made the most powerful case for renewal and reform.” Mary Grace Lucier, Exec Director
    National Advisory Council on Educational Research

    “Your ideas for getting U.S. Foreign Policy ′ahead of the curve′ and the “Challenge to America” were received with great enthusiasm…′thought-provoking,′ “outstanding,′ ′great presentation′ were representative comments we heard.”
    Boyce Nute, Education Director, World Presidents′ Organization

    “..your after-dinner remarks were appreciated by all…The donors as well as the Hoover Fellows were very impressed, and people continue to comment …on how eloquently you expressed your thoughts. The only problem your success poses for us is that you will be a tough act to follow in terms of future retreats.”
    John Raisian, Director, Hoover Institution on War and Peace

    “Bruce Rider of the American Bankers Association phoned me this morning from Orlando to say that both he and the audience were ′overwhelmed′ with your presentation. The ′best they have ever had′, Bruce tells me.”
    Harry Walker, Harry Walker Lecture Agency.

    “You were terrific. Thank you so much for being with us.”
    Governor James B. Hunt Jr. of North Carolina.

    “Thank you for your inspiring keynote address for our spring term. The (flag rank military) students are excited by your thoughts…and prescriptions for solutions to our most fundamental problems. We could not have asked for a more masterful way energize the school to this semester of study.”
    Rear Admiral J.F. Smith Jr., Commandant, National Defense University

    “To say that I am thrilled you were able to be with the Council on Foundations Board last week would be the understatement of the millennium…The Council′s board and staff were energized by you…. My deepest thanks. “
    Dorothy Ridings, CEO, Council on Foundations.

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