Remembering Dow Smith

This message was first sent to Newhouse faculty and staff.


I write again today to pay tribute to someone who many Newhouse alumni in broadcast journalism, faculty and staff knew well.

Dow Smith, a retired associate professor of broadcast journalism, passed away on April 2 in Albany. He was 83. While I never worked with Dow at Newhouse, he had a sterling reputation in broadcast circles as a newsroom leader, dedicated educator and as the author of a definitive textbook on producing TV news. I used and assigned his outstanding textbook, Power Producer, at both the University of Maryland and Arizona State University. His career as a producer, news director and TV station general manager included tenures in multiple markets around the country under multiple ownerships before joining the Newhouse School in 1995. 

Associate professor and former associate dean Dona Hayes describes Dow as a “fountain of broadcast journalism knowledge” who knew everyone in the business. In particular, Dow loved teaching news producing and spread his enthusiasm for behind-the-camera work to the scores of students he trained at Newhouse. A U.S. Navy veteran, Dow also served as director of the Military and Visual Journalism program. 

Recalls Dona: “Dow was also a special colleague because he cared about people. He and I shared artistic sons whom we often kibitzed about. He adored all of his children, grandchildren, his wife, Bonnie, the Sears catalogue house they settled in near Albany and fast British cars.” 

Dow retired from the Newhouse School in 2008 but left a lasting impression with the many students he mentored who went on to successful careers as broadcast journalists and news leaders. Here is part of a touching tribute from Kyle Grimes ’99, vice president for New England of Hearst Television and president and general manager of WCVB-TV in Boston:

“Dow was inimitable. Larger than life in stature and spirit. He developed the newscast producer program at Newhouse and added to the rich legacy of the school by creating yet one more attribute that differentiated Newhouse from its peers.”   

A private memorial service is planned for this summer. In lieu of flowers, the family has asked in his obituary for donations to be made to the Committee to Protect Journalists. On behalf of the Newhouse community, I want to extend our sincerest condolences to Dow’s family and friends.