Ex-Sportswriter Jen Smith Discusses Journalism & Storytelling in a Time of Challenge

By Jay Blanton and Kody Kiser


LEXINGTON, Ky. Jen Smith is an instructor in the University of Kentucky School of Journalism and Media and a self-described recovering sportswriter who worked for the Lexington Herald-Leader in various positions for more than 20 years, including writer, copy editor and designer.

While working in the sports department, she covered everything from high school sports to racing — both the horse and horsepower kinds — before settling into the University of Kentucky football beat in 2011. She also covered UK women’s basketball for more than 15 seasons.


Smith has a passion for sports, but also for good storytelling across multiple platforms, editing and journalism history. In addition to her teaching duties, Smith is now focused as well on creating a sports journalism program and academic path at UK.


In 2016 and 2017, she was named Kentucky Sports Writer of the Year by the National Sports Media Association. Smith also was a Top 10 sports beat writer in the country in 2017, according to the Association of Professional Sports Editors. During her two decades in the journalism industry, she won multiple sports feature and story competitions.


In this episode of "Behind the Blue," Smith discusses taking on her new role as a teacher, the state of journalism and what’s next for the profession in a time of economic challenge. This interview was actually recorded in February of 2021.



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