Steven A. Smith, the former executive editor of The Spokesman-Review, was arrested Thursday afternoon on suspicion of possessing child pornography.
Smith, who served as editor from 2002 to 2008, was booked into the Spokane County Jail on 10 counts of first-degree child porn possession, according to jail records. Details about his alleged crimes were unavailable late Thursday.
Smith declined a jailhouse interview Thursday evening. His wife, Carla Savalli, who previously held various editor roles at The Spokesman-Review, also declined to comment.
After leaving The Spokesman-Review, Smith served as a journalism clinical associate professor at the University of Idaho and specialized in teaching journalism ethics.
He retired in 2020 from UI, but announced this week in a column on Spokane FaVS News, a religion news publication based in the Inland Northwest, that he was coming out of retirement to serve as the organization’s managing editor.
Before working in Spokane, Smith was the editor of the Statesman Journal in Salem and the Gazette in Colorado Springs, Colorado.
In 2005, while Smith led The Spokesman-Review newsroom, the newspaper published an investigative report that led to the recall of then-Spokane Mayor Jim West over allegations that he used the trapping of public office to entice young men into sexual relationships while at the same time working against gay rights as an elected leader. The paper also reported on allegations made by a man in a sworn deposition that when he was a Boy Scout, West had molested him while West was a sheriff’s deputy and scout leader. West denied the allegation.
The newspaper used a forensics expert who posed online as a gay Ferris High School student, who entered into a flirtatious online relationship with West and agreed to a meeting with him. West was seen showing up for that meeting. West acknowledged offering internships, sports memorabilia and trips to a man he believed was 18 that he met on a chat site catering to the LGBTQ+ community, but he denied that was an enticement or abuse of office.
The newspaper’s methods of having someone pose as a teenager online were controversial, and Smith was interviewed by several national news outlets, including CBS Morning News, ABC’s “Good Morning America,” MSNBC’s “Dan Abrams Show” and NPR’s “All Things Considered.”
Smith earned a master’s degree at Ohio State University and bachelor’s in journalism from the University of Oregon.