Facebook Pixel School of Media Faculty and Staff | Western Kentucky University

School of Media Faculty and Staff

Jeanie Adams-Smith, M.A.
Jeanie Adams-Smith, M.A.
- Professor

Basic Photography
Intermediate Photography
Picture Editing
Advanced Photojournalism




  • August 2015 to Present - Professor of photojournalism Western Kentucky University
  • August 2008 2015- Associate Professor of photojournalism Western Kentucky University
  • January 2002-2008 - Assistant Professor of photojournalism Western Kentucky University
  • May 1992 - January 2002- Worked as a photo editor for the Chicago Tribune
  • September -December 2000- Photographer for City 2000
  • September 1999- September 2000 - Attended Ohio University as the John S. and James L. Knight Fellow, where she taught in the Visual Communications department and worked on a master's degree in the photojournalism sequence.
  • 1992-1999- Worked as a photo editor for the Chicago Tribune; where she was the National/Foreign Picture Editor- responsibilities included researching and assigning photographs for our bureaus and working on many of the Tribune's special projects, including Killing Our Children, a year-long documentary on the children murdered in Chicago in 1993, which won the Robert F. Kennedy Award for Outstanding Journalism.


  • September 1999-September 2000- Completed a master's degree at Ohio University in Visual Communications
  • 1990-1991- Completed a master's degree in Communications from Western Kentucky University
  • 1985-1990- Completed a bachelor's degree in Photojournalism with a minor in English from W.K.U.


Professional Activities and Awards

  • 2004- Cox Newspapers Photographer of the Year contest judge
  • 2003- Photographer for the America 24/7 Project
  • 2003- Photographer of the Year International, 3rd Place Feature Picture Story
  • 2003- Received a grant from the Kentucky Foundation for Women
  • 2003- Received a Junior Faculty Grant, Western Kentucky University
  • 2003- Was a guest speaker for the National Brain Injury Assoc. Annual Meeting
  • 2003- Michigan Photographer of the Year contest judge
  • 2002- Kentucky News Photographer of the Year, 2nd Place
  • 2002- Attended the Maine Photographic Workshop on Storytelling with Eugene Richards
  • 2002- Was the Story Researcher and a Photo Editing coach for the Mountain Workshop in Cave City, KY.
  • 2001- Received a first place in The University Missouri Photographer of the Year competition for Best Use Photos Multimedia
  • 2001 - Illinois Press Photographer of the Year, 3rd Place
  • 2001- Recipient of the Chicago Arts Grant
  • 2001- Received a second place and an Award of Excellence in Issue Reporting Category the NPPA/University Missouri Photographer of the Year competition
  • 2000 ' Was a photographer for the City 2000 project in Chicago that spent a year documenting the city in the millennium.
  • 2000- Received the Kit C. King Graduate Scholarship
  • 2000- Received an Award of Excellence in Issue Reporting in the NPPA/University Missouri Photographer of the Year competition
  • 1999- Finalist in the Gordon Parks Photography Competition
  • 1998- Part of the editing team at the Chicago Tribune that received Best Use of Photography, 3rd place in the NPPA/University Missouri Photographer of the Year competition
  • 1997- Received three Awards of Excellence for design from the Society of Newspaper and Design for a week-long series in the Chicago Tribune on over-population
  • 1997- Was a student at the W.K.U. Mountain People's Workshop on photojournalism in Russelville, Ky as a photographer documenting the small-town community
  • 1995- Attended the Poynter Institute for Media Studies for a week-long seminar on ethics in journalism.
  • 1995 - Was the conference chairperson for Insights, NPPA's Women in Photojournalism Conference.
  • 1995' Published a book on minor league baseball, Portraits of Minor League Baseball The Kane County Cougars
  • 1994- Attended the Stan Kalish Picture Editing Workshop
  • 1993- Was the picture editor for the Chicago Tribune's Killing Our Children project, which received the Robert F. Kennedy Award for Journalism
  • 1991- Recipient of the Eastman Kodak Student Scholarship
  • 1991- Was the W.K.U. Senior Photojournalism Student of the Year
  • 1990- Recipient of the Bob East Scholarship
  • 1989- Was a William Randolph Hearst semi-finalist
  • 1988- Was a runner-up in College Photographer of the Year
  • 1987- Present- Member of NPPA and KNPA

When Jeanie Adams-Smith left the Chicago Tribune in 2002 to take a position at Western Kentucky University, she was looking forward to sharing her expertise with students in one of the nation’s premier photojournalism schools.

Her 10-year career at the Tribune culminated with her in the position of national/foreign picture editor during the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks on the World Trade Center, which forever changed America. By then, Adams-Smith had already published a photo-documentary book on minor league baseball, and a multimedia piece on the children of divorce that won first place in Pictures of the Year International.

In the years since she joined the staff at WKU, powerful and affluent media outlets have collapsed or downsized and a “leaner and meaner” news industry is emerging in fast-paced and ever-changing web-based multimedia outlets. Adams-Smith is fully engaged in the technologies that drive these changes, while stressing that they are simply new tools that can help journalists accomplish their mission of gathering and communicating news in a professional and ethical manner.

Since arriving at WKU, Adams-Smith published two more books of social documentary photography and was named 2006 Photographer of the Year by the Kentucky News Photographers Association. The university nominated her book, Survivors: The Children of Divorce, the culmination of six years of work, for the Pulitzer Prize in nonfiction.

Adams-Smith has also won international awards for photography documenting women’s health clinics in Chicago neighborhoods, Vanderbilt University’s burn unit for children, a family’s struggle with traumatic brain injury, and a photographic testimonial by survivors of rape and sexual assault in Kentucky.

In the past several years, she has traveled twice to Cuba, documenting the everyday lives of people in Old Havana, a World Heritage Site as yet untouched by international commerce. She has also been to western Ireland to document family farms threatened by industrial agriculture. The work has won her several regional and national awards. She recently returned from England where she taught at Harlaxton College for a semester and worked on a project on family farms in Europe.

Adams-Smith has been asked to judge regional and national photo competitions, including the White House News Photographers Association, Photographer of the Year International, and the Society of News Design. She regularly spends several weeks each summer teaching journalism to selected high school students in Kentucky’s Governor’s Scholars Program, and she takes great pleasure in introducing the joys of photography to children in two local programs.

She earned a bachelor’s degree in journalism and a master’s in communication from Western Kentucky University; she earned a master’s in visual communication from Ohio University.

Adams-Smith has been married 19 years to her husband David, and they share the joy of raising their daughter Abigail. Besides her family, her other passion is CrossFit and training for half-marathons and triathlons.

Back to Listing



The School of Media & Communication at WKU is ACEJMC accredited for majors in Broadcasting, Journalism and Photojournalism.



Some of the links on this page may require additional software to view.

 Last Modified 3/30/23