Erna Smith is a professor of professional practice at the University of Southern California’s Annenberg School for Communication and Journalism. Prior to teaching, she worked as a reporter, editor and copy editor at several newspapers, including the Fort Worth Star-Telegram, the Minneapolis Star and The Wall Street Journal.
The author of several studies on race and the media, Smith was a fellow at Harvard University's Shorenstein Center on Press, Politics and Public Policy, where she conducted a study of television news coverage of the 1992 Los Angeles riots. For her work, she has received several honors, including the Barry Bingham Fellowship from the National Council of Editorial Writers.
Since 2008 Smith has served as the director of USC Annenberg’s summer internship program for graduate students in Cape Town, South Africa.