“A burning curiosity to go with the action to see what it's all about, to go search for a pattern of meaning. . ."

                                                                                                                               ~ Saul Alinsky, 1945 ~

 

In an age where many journalists rush to claim the title of expert and many consumers search out news that confirms their views, I approach my work with a philosophy rooted in curiosity, openness, and an understanding that as a journalist, what we haven't yet learned can often be more valuable than what we already know. Growing up in a small, rural town surrounded by the natural beauty of the western United States, I was raised from an early age to see the world as a schoolroom. In 2009 I graduated summa cum laude with a degree in journalism and political science from my hometown university, later earning a graduate certificate in advanced international affairs from Texas A&M University, and a master's degree in modern war from King's College London.

 

That desire for learning and exploring guided me as I first covered local politics and crime. Investigations into gun control policies and plans to roll back affirmative action laws won national and regional awards and prompted legislative changes. I moved on to Washington, D.C., where I walked the halls of power, investigating the interactions between technology, national security, and politics. My work has appeared on Reuters.com, The Washington Post, National Journal, NYTimes.com. TheAtlantic.com, Mashable, and Yahoo! News, among other outlets. I have provided commentary for broadcast on MSNBC, CNN, NPR, Deutsche Welle, C-SPAN, Fox News, BBC Radio, ABC, and others. 

 

I've reported extensively from some of the world's hottest spots, including Kabul, Baghdad, Pyongyang, and Moscow, as well as areas more off the beaten path.  Since 2017 I've been based in Seoul, covering North and South Korea as a senior correspondent for Reuters. Previously I spent nearly five years based in Afghanistan, where I embedded with American and Afghan troops, reported independently from provinces around the country, and covered the 2014 NATO Summit in Wales. I help manage risks and organize logistics for reporters and local stringers, translators, and drivers in the often hazardous areas where we work. Through exclusive front-line embeds with local forces, I worked hard to tell the stories of the fighters and civilians on the battlefields of these unfinished wars. I traveled into North Korea for an on the ground view of Kim Jong Un's efforts to present a new face to the world, and helped lead coverage of the unprecedented summits between Kim and U.S. President Donald Trump. 

 

Journalism to me is a way to explore and illustrate political and cultural realities in the world. It has the power to immerse the audience in the experience of another place or person. Each reader makes that journey in their own way, but the role journalists play telling those stories is a great responsibility. Today's digital age offers journalists the ability to choose the best medium to tell a story. Rather than getting caught up in the debate over which format is best, I approach my storytelling with a view toward providing my audience with the most effective and engaging content, whether through writing, photography, video, or other multimedia.

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All photos by Josh Smith

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