Keith Smith named Falmouth Outlook news editor
Keith Smith, a retired teacher and lifelong resident of Pendleton County, has been appointed to the position of News Editor of The Falmouth Outlook.
Smith taught at Pendleton County High School for over 27 years, and he served as a classroom teacher, an alternative school teacher, and the athletic director during that time. He also sponsored organizations such as DECA and FCA, and he coached girls’ basketball, golf, and slow-pitch softball during his tenure.
While Smith trained and worked as a teacher, his heart has held a strong interest in journalism. As a high school junior, Smith wrote sports stories for The Falmouth Outlook, covering the girls’ basketball games. “I would attend the games on Monday nights, type the stories up when I got home, and slip them through the door before school on Tuesday morning. The paper came out on Tuesday evening.”
During his coaching years and his time as athletic director, Smith also covered high school sports with no byline.
His love for news also led him to pick up the school newspaper as a project for his DECA students. For two or three years, The Paw Print ran as a publication that focused on PCHS happenings.
Shortly after his retirement, Smith returned to The Falmouth Outlook, this time as a part-time employee who was responsible for covering sports. Those responsibilities soon grew as he voluntarily took on other pages and more stories, and his love for telling stories—a trait he says he has always had—grew along with that.
This fact is not lost on Outlook Publisher Neil Belcher. “Keith has a natural curiosity and desire to tell the story,” Belcher observes. “He’s got a ‘nose for news.’ He’s a lifetime Pendleton County resident with a passion for chasing down the stories that our readers need. He is the perfect fit for News Editor at the Outlook.”
As acting editor, Smith has shown that he is not afraid to tell the stories of the community, regardless of whether they are good or bad. He has also taken to social media to bring breaking local stories to the public and to share national stories with local significance to readers, as well.
“Coaching and [the athletic director position] taught me that you cannot be afraid of the tough decisions. Get all the info you can, get input from those voices you respect, and make the decisions. We will cover stories that may upset some people, but if it’s legit news, we will cover it, and we won’t back off the tough questions.”
He is excited to continue telling those stories, good and bad, as he sets his sights on the future. He also looks to that teamwork atmosphere that he knows so well from his coaching days to help move The Outlook into the future.
“One thing that coaching taught me is the most important thing is to surround yourself with great people,” Smith relates. “I was blessed with great students in DECA, and we had tremendous success because of them. While I was coaching, I had great assistants that helped carry out our goals, and we had a lot of success in basketball and golf. As AD, I was blessed to hire great coaches who understand the job was more than winning, although it’s very nice to win, and we had some great successes. The same goes with The Outlook: we want to have a great team, give them what they need to do the job, and let them do it.
“I will and do rely on those on our staff to help guide and direct decisions that have to be made. That goes back to surrounding yourself with great people, and I believe we are molding one of the best staffs that The Outlook has ever had.”
His excitement for his new role does come with a weight that he recognizes, however, and he acknowledges his place in regards to local history.
“It’s a privilege to continue a role that was established in 1907,” he shares. “It’s humbling, but it’s also important as we are recording the history of Pendleton County for those who will some day look back 25, 50, 75, or 100 years in the future while reporting it first-hand to those presently living in Pendleton County.”
Reaching both audiences in this day, both the present-day and the future readers, is foremost on Smith’s mind. The dream that came to life with Warren Shonert, Sr. in 1907, is growing to serve a quickly-growing technologically-focused population today.
He reflects, “We need to look at the business of the paper and bring it up to the times we live in now so that when we leave, it’s in a better business position that where it was before.”