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After graduating from the nationally accredited E.W.Scripps School of Journalism at Ohio University in 2002, Aaron M. Smith began his journalism career at the Urbana Daily Citizen. He began as an intern but quickly rose in ranks as the assistant sports editor and business editor at the newspaper. Smith often wrote feature stories and special section stories in addition to his regular responsibilities of covering games and writing feature articles on local athletes. While at the Urbana Daily Citizen, Smith helped to coordinate a massive enterprise project chronicling the dramatic impact made on the community by the twenty-year presence of the Honda Manufacturing automobile plant. The versatility of his writing earned Smith several Brown Publishing Awards in 2003. Smith also was noticed by the Associated Press Society of Ohio (APSO) in 2003, earning second place in the best sportswriter category and an honorable mention in the best game story category.
In September of 2003, Smith was named as the sports editor at the Port Clinton News Herald as well as a contributing sportswriter for its sister newspaper, the Fremont News-Messenger. Smith immediately made an impact at the News Herald, developing a reader-favorite “Athlete of the Week” feature, an award given weekly to a deserving local high school athlete. The award came with an in-depth feature article about the winning athlete, and it soon became a highly anticipated feature by the newspaper’s readers. Smith’s writing not only appealed to sports fans, but also to those who craved human interest stories of triumph and overcoming personal obstacles. In commenting on Smith’s feature on a high school football team that finally ended a one-year losing streak, the APSO judges stated that Smith did "an outstanding job of capturing a significant moment not only for a high school football team, but also the players involved and the community that supports them. He uses excellent reporting to get a key quote that helps a well-written lead come full circle."
Working as a freelance writer in 2005, Smith traveled to Brazil to write a series of feature articles on the landless people of rural central Brazil. Franciscans Network, a non-profit organization in Cincinnati, sent Smith to Brazil to write the features for the organization’s web site and other publications. While in Brazil, Smith spent time at the landless camps, even sleeping overnight under tarp-covered shanties with the landless to get the full effect of their everyday lives.
Smith left the newspaper business in 2005 and earned his credential to teach writing and English to high school and middle school students, fulfilling a long-time goal to help others develop a passion for writing and reading. He taught English and writing for two years at Lindbergh Middle School in Long Beach, California, while also instructing and participating in writing workshops with colleagues in the school district. While excelling in the classroom as a teacher, Smith missed writing and decided to leave the classroom to become a full-time writer in Ohio.