Vern E. Smith

Vern Smith's work as a journalist, author and screenwriter spans four decades.


His 1974 novel The Jones Men, a New York Times Recommended Book, was nominated for an Edgar Award by the Mystery Writers of America and has been reprinted in several foreign editions. He joined Newsweek as a correspondent in the Detroit bureau in 1971. His report on “Detroit’s Heroin Subculture” won the Detroit Press Club Foundation Magazine Award in 1973 and was the inspiration for The Jones Men.


From 1979 until 2002, Smith served as the Atlanta Bureau Chief and as a national correspondent for Newsweek. As a principal reporter with Newsweek's Special Projects Unit, he contributed to four cover stories later published as books. One of the stories, “Charlie Co.: What Vietnam Did to Us,” won the 1981 National Magazine Award for Single Topic Issue.


In 2004, Smith contributed six chapters to the book My Soul Looks Back in Wonder: Voices of the Civil Rights Experience, published by Sterling Publishing.


Smith also served as a principal reporter and blogger for the 2004 Voices of Civil Rights oral history project, considered the world's largest archive of firsthand accounts of the Civil Rights Movement. The collection of personal stories is permanently housed at the Library of Congress.


Smith's work has also appeared in Emerge, The London Sunday Times, Ebony, GEO, The Crisis, Merian Magazine, and The History Channel Magazine.


His screenplay adapted from The Jones Men was presented in a staged reading at the Castillo Theatre in New York in June 2012 with a cast of 25, including actor Jamie Hector of HBO’s The Wire. The reading was directed by producer/director Woodie King Jr., who is planning a film.


Smith co-authored with Sylvester Monroe the screenplay Brothers, optioned by Warner Brothers, and based on the book of the same name published by William Morrow. The story first appeared as the cover story of the March. 23,1987 issue of Newsweek.


His latest screenplay, Agile Mobile Hostile, based on the book, Jake Gaither: America's Most Famous Black Coach, by journalist George Curry is currently out to production companies. He has served as a guest essayist for PBS’ The News Hour, and has appeared as a commentator on CNN, CNBC, C-SPAN, ABC’s “Good Morning America,” “BET-Tonight,” and “The Tom Joyner Morning Show,” on the ABC Radio Network.


A native of Natchez, Miss., Smith is a graduate of San Francisco State University, and the Summer Program for Minority Journalists at the Columbia University Graduate School of Journalism. He began his journalism career as a reporter for the Long Beach, Calif. Independent Press-Telegram. He blogs at vernesmith.wordpress.com, and is on twitter at @VESstories.

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