Author and journalist Danyel Smith, a 2013-14 Knight Fellow, discusses the changing landscape of media

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Danyel SmithFrom Oprah Winfrey to Anna Quindlen and a host of others in between, aspiring journalists can look to many women in media as role models. One of those is 2013-2014 Knight Fellow Danyel Smith.

Smith has had a storied career that spans newspapers, magazines, books and online media. Born and raised in Oakland, she got her professional start in 1989, as a writer, columnist and critic for the San Francisco Bay Guardian and the East Bay Express. From there she served as music editor at San Francisco Weekly and a reporter for Spin magazine.

A move to New York City in 1993 led her to become rhythm and blues editor at Billboard, where she was the magazine’s first African-American editor. Later at VIBE magazine, she became the first African-American editor and also the first female editor of the magazine (she served as editor-in-chief twice.) She has profiled many famous people, including Beyoncé, Mariah Carey, Janet Jackson, Mary J. Blige, Queen Latifah, Laurence Fishburne and Jamie Foxx.

Her past positions also include chief content officer of Vibe Media Group. Smith has a Master’s of Fine Arts from the New School University, where she later served as adjunct faculty in the Writing Program. She was also a writer-in-residence at Skidmore College. She now considers Brooklyn to be her home.

Smith runs impressive Tumblr blogs, including The Smithian and her personal Tumblr. Her work can also be seen in publications such as Elle, TIME, The New York Times, Cosmopolitan, The New Yorker, NPR, Rolling Stone and many others.

She’s published two books: More Like Wrestling in 2003 and Bliss in 2005. Her resume continues to expand with a third book on the way about the history of African-American women in pop music.

In her current role as a Knight Fellow at Stanford, Smith is focusing on “a teaching platform that provides tools for journalists as they serve America’s new ‘normal’ demographic.“

More about and from Smith:

How can we change the demographics of how culture journalism is assigned, edited, created? – From John S. Knight Journalism Fellowships at Stanford

An Interview with Danyel Smith – From

Commentary: Michael Jackson, the greatest star – From CNN

Video: MLK Day and the inauguration – From CNN

Video: Interview with VIBE EIC Danyel Smith  – From Gakcity

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