Media Hall of Fame - Leanne Smith

Headshot of Leanna Smith wearing a dark blue blazer and white shirt against a light grey backdrop.Leanne (Gilbert) Smith, 1983, Journalism: Leanne has spent three decades in community journalism, working for many years as a sports and education reporter in Jackson, Washtenaw and Livingston counties who earned her credibility with readers one story at a time. Leanne started at the Jackson Citizen Patriot as a high school sports writer. She left journalism for five years to work in public relations as a media content analyst at FleishmanHillard. She returned to the Jackson Citizen Patriot in 2000 as a general assignment reporter. In 2003, Leanne transferred to the Citizen Patriot’s sister publication, The Ann Arbor News, where she wrote for the newspaper’s Livingston County publication. She returned to the Citizen Patriot in 2009 as an education reporter and later became the newspaper’s lead reporter under the banner. In 2018, Leanne was promoted to an editor position within MLive, leading teams of reporters at the Jackson Citizen Patriot and Ann Arbor News. Earlier this year, Leanne was promoted to MLive’s senior editor for east Michigan news, overseeing editors and reporters and news production in Jackson, Ann Arbor, Flint, Saginaw and Bay City. Leanne has served on the CMU Student Media Board that oversees Central Michigan Life and has also been a long-time volunteer judge in the annual MLive/Jackson Citizen Patriot Spelling Bee.

“Leanne is one of the best editors I’ve ever worked with. She is passionate, tough, fair and a great coach to reporters. She is creative, smart, innovative and willing to experiment, which is critical to the survival of local journalism,” said Sara Scott, director of Local News & Investigations for MLive Media Group.