Tulane Alumni Association




Distinguished Alumnus/a Award 1986


Howard K. Smith

A native of Ferriday, Louisiana, Howard K. Smith graduated Phi Beta Kappa with a Bachelor of Arts from Tulane in 1936, then won a Rhodes Scholarship and attended Oxford University in England. He began his professional career as a newspaper reporter, working first on the New Orleans Item, then with the United Press, and later with the New York Times. In 1941, he joined the Columbia Broadcasting System as its wartime Berlin correspondent and remained with the network for 20 years. In 1961, he switched to the American Broadcasting Company where he reported for 17 years.

As a CBS was correspondent, he was expelled from Nazi Germany late in 1941 and authored the best-selling book Last Train from Berlin (1942). During World War II, Mr. Smith covered four major military campaigns. He reported on the Nazi Wehrmacht's conquest of France on the French underground army during liberation. He followed the U.S. First and Ninth Armies in their drive through Western Europe, and he covered the surrender of the Germans to the Soviet army in Berlin. After the war, he reported on the Nuremberg Trials.

In 1946, Edward R. Murrow appointed Mr. Smith to succeed him as chief European correspondent for CBS. He continued reporting from nations throughout Europe, the communist countries, the Middle East, and Africa until 1957, when he was transferred to Washington to become chief Washington correspondent and manager of the Washington Bureau for CBS. He summarized the war's effects on Europe in his second book, The State of Europe (1949).

In 1961, Mr. Smith joined ABC and became writer, editor, and narrator of "News and Comment," the popular weekly television series on current affairs. He was assigned later to a series of 52 weekly programs devoted to the Vietnam War. For seven years, he served as co-anchor of the "ABC Evening News." His experience in covering Washington led to his third book, Washington, D.C., a history of the nation's capital. Currently, Mr. Smith is lecturing, speaking, and doing selected television assignments while working on another book, which will be a journalist's commentary on the 20th century.

Howard K. Smith is one of the most honored reporters of modern times. Among his many major awards for journalism are the Peabody Award and an Emmy for the documentary "The Population Explosion." He is the only journalist to receive two DuPont Commentary Awards, and he has won the Overseas Press Club Award for foreign affairs reporting and interpreting six times, more than any other commentator. He is the first working reporter to receive the Paul White Memorial Award, which has been give previously only to United States presidents, and to one network president. He is one of the recipients of an award presented by the Friar's Club to the three "outstanding American broadcast journalists."

Outside the field of broadcasting, he has received 17 honorary degrees from American universities and the prestigious Lowell Thomas Award for public speaking by the International Platform Association. In addition to this journalistic activities, Mr. Smith has had roles in many Hollywood movies. He has served as an official State Department delegate monitoring elections in Central America, as a consultant for the Institute for Defense Analysis, as an adviser to the Georgetown Conter for Strategic Studies, and is the on-air representative for the National Association of Broadcasters' Campaign to Improve the Productivity of American Industries.

Among his career highlights, Mr. Smith's moderation of the 1960 Kennedy-Nixon debate, the 1980 "Great Debate," and the final debate between Carter and Reagan attest to his stature as a journalist and to his influence on media history. His series "Every Four Years," in which he interviewed all living U.S. presidents, represents a landmark study of the modern presidency.

Alumni Relations, Tulane University, 6319 Willow Street, New Orleans, LA 70118 504-865-5901