Brand SpotlightSouthern Utah University


Weapon of Choice: Gun or Camera

Posted at 12:22 PM, Sep 28, 2015
and last updated 2015-09-28 14:23:18-04


The following article is sponsored by Southern Utah University.

Dressed in the local garb, Josh Smith’s fair skin and press badge stand out against the sandy landscape. His weapon of choice is the dusty camera lens, rather than a gun.

Capturing the emotions that come with conflict and crisis, Smith’s career has led him from his university newspaper to the Middle East as an embedded reporter.

After working at Southern Utah University’s University Journal, the Deseret News and the National Journal in Washington, DC, Smith’s career has propelled him around the world as reporter for Stars and Stripes, a magazine that serves the United States military community, covering the troops in Afghanistan, where he has lived for almost three years.

And now with American troops withdrawing from the area, Smith’s writing and photography has remained embedded in the communities and gives millions of readers a glimpse into life in Afghanistan, Iraq, Kyrgyzstan, Russia and several countries in Europe. View his photos here:

“People want to hear the Hollywood version of things where the bullet goes right by you, but the reality is that bullets hit a lot of people there,” he said. “We often approach war and conflict like we approach watching an action movie, we want to see it be really close in the end, but the fact is, the end result is rarely glamorous.”

“As senior correspondent, 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’ve worked hard to tell the stories of the fighters and civilians on the battlefields of these unfinished wars,” said Smith.

Smith’s life in Afghanistan is like a “whiplash between two worlds.” At one moment, he may be enjoying a night with friends and in the next instant he is rushing down the street, camera in hand, to cover a suicide bombing.

Along with writing feature stories, Smith also captures picture and video for Stars and Stripes. He credits the hands-on experience in various areas of news reporting such as television broadcasting and photojournalism at SUU as a reason for his success.

During his time at SUU, he discovered his purpose in the world of journalism. Entering academia already a dedicated news junkie, Smith took his thirst of exploration and combined it with hands-on experiences in the classroom producing news.

“The classes gave me a well-rounded knowledge that prepared me well for both work as well as continued education and study,” explained Smith. “The teachers were always approachable and provided personalized help both in the classroom and out.”

The power of storytelling in a time of war may be a stronger weapon than a gun. Smith chooses shooting through his lens, rather than a scope.

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