Longtime WLBT News Director Dennis Smith retires - MSNewsNow.com - Jackson, MS

Longtime WLBT News Director Dennis Smith retires

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We celebrated Dennis' many years of service with a big party in the newsroom Thursday. We celebrated Dennis' many years of service with a big party in the newsroom Thursday.
Dennis returned to WLBT in 1984 as an investigative reporter. Dennis returned to WLBT in 1984 as an investigative reporter.
JACKSON, MS (Mississippi News Now) -

It was a bittersweet day at WLBT Thursday. After 45 years in TV, our leader, News Director Dennis Smith, is retiring.

We celebrated his many years of service with a big party in the newsroom. Familiar faces, some of whom worked here decades ago, stopped by to offer their congratulations. We also took a look back at Dennis' busy career.

Dennis got involved in Jackson television nearly 50 years ago at Channel 12. Bert Case hired him away in 1974 to come over to WLBT to start a weekly, half-hour documentary program called Probe. It was unheard-of, even in those days, to have an outlet for long-form, in-depth reporting on Mississippi issues.

It caught on quickly and in 1976 won the holy grail of broadcast news -- a George Foster Peabody Award -- for a report on powerful but flawed state senator Bill Burgin.

In 1978, Dennis spent a memorable week with another political power, Senator James Eastland, at his office in Washington and at home in Doddsville.

Dennis soon pursued new opportunities in Louisiana -- first at KATC in Lafayette and then at the respected WWL in New Orleans.

But strong ties to home soon brought him back to Mississippi and WLBT. He returned in 1984 as an investigative reporter. Dennis became news director in 1989, and he has run the newsroom ever since -- offering his "Point of View" commentary each Thursday night.

Somewhere along the way Dennis also managed to get a law degree and join the Mississippi Bar Association. He retired from the Mississippi National Guard as a Colonel in 2007. And he trained legions of young journalists who now shine the light in dark places all over the country.

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