BULLHEAD CITY — MJ Smith has been named chief editor for News West Publishing.
“What we’re looking to do is strengthen our editorial products across the board,” said General Manager Larry Kendrick, when he made the announcement Friday. “We’re putting a fresh, new face out there for Bullhead City. I believe with her knowledge of the area, and being committed to it — that was important to me — MJ is a good fit.”
Smith will be directing content, design and direction of the Mohave Valley Daily News, Laughlin Nevada Times, Needles Desert Star and the Laughlin Entertainer, as well as the online versions of each publication.
“I have always had a passion for journalism,” said Smith, a graduate of the University of Arizona. “When this opportunity was presented to me, I saw it as a chance to effect real change.”
Smith worked for News West publishing from 2005 to 2008 as associate editor of the Laughlin Entertainer and Desert Currents Magazine. After a freelance stint that took her on the road covering cartel wars in Nogales, Sonora, Mexico, salt shortages in the rural Northwest and eco-tourism in South America, Smith transitioned to public relations and marketing in 2009 as the marketing director for the Laughlin Tourism Commission. She was promoted to executive director in 2011 and was pivotal in bringing A-list entertainment to the Colorado River gaming destination. Smith will continue in her role as executive director of LTC.
“I always maintained an interest in journalism and the changing role of media in communities without a regional news source,” said Smith who holds a master’s degree in journalism and bachelor of arts in photography. “There is a struggle across the country for newspapers to remain relevant in today’s digital climate but we can learn from those who are succeeding, such as the Wall Street Journal and Arizona Republic.”
News West will continue to serve its important role as community watchdog and as a voice for the public, Smith said.
“News West is the area’s only true watchdog of local government, public dollars and policy,” she said. “Being part of that is very appealing.”
There are many changes planned, beginning with a redesign of the weekly Laughlin Nevada Times, which will launch Sept. 19.
“The idea is to ensure that we are using space to our best possible advantage,” Smith said, noting that will hold true with all News West publications. “That we are delivering news to the Tri-state in the correct medium, taking into account timeliness and relevance, across all platforms (print, online and social media).”
The goal is to provide “more in-depth coverage of a wider range of topics,” Smith said. “While taking into account paper costs, subscriptions and where and how our readers are accessing information.”
A redesign of the Mohave Valley Daily News also is in the works.
“We want to make our products cohesive and complementary but not redundant,” she said. “We will improve the timeliness of our news delivery without compromising accuracy. While we may not be the first to break a story, the Tri-state can count on News West to give them a complete, verified story, without predisposition or bias.”
News West will hold a public town hall at 5:30 p.m. on Oct. 10 at the Bullhead Area Chamber of Commerce to meet residents and welcome feedback on the company’s many products.
“We would love to hear the public’s priorities for content and coverage,” she said. “Where are we excelling and where can we use improvement?”
Editor Bill McMillen and Night Editor Jason Carr remain contacts for items involving the editorial department at the Daily News.
Smith and her partner, Paul Terry, owner of ChefPT Enterprises, are parents of a 4-year-old daughter, Aoibhinn. Terry’s oldest daughter, Lauren Terry, died in 2014.