Born in Kilmacolm, Scotland and educated at The Choate School in Wallingford, Connecticut, Smith’s first newspaper reporting job was with The Greenville (S.C.) News during the 1950′s. After graduating from Williams College (where he earned a B.A. in American history and literature) he did graduate work as a Fulbright Scholar at Oxford University. After serving three years in the U.S. Air Force, he landed at United Press International in Memphis, Nashville and Atlanta from 1959 through 1962. He was hired by The New York Times in 1962 where he remained until 1988. While working for the Times, he was chosen for a prestigious Nieman Fellowship at Harvard in 1969-70.