By John Zent, American Rifleman
Yesterday as part of an editorial department restructuring here at NRA Publications, veteran staffer Ann Y. Smith became Senior Executive Editor, Digital, for American Rifleman, and thus is the first woman editor in the 130-year history of the NRA’s flagship publication. Prior to that Ann had served as the founding Editor-in-Chief of E-Media (among other assignments with NRA Pubs), and so for anyone paying attention to such behind-the-page details, it would logically seem that she already was a part of the Rifleman staff.
Well, yes, since AmericanRifleman.org is a big part of our E-Media operations, practically speaking that was the case, and this new assignment is largely inside baseball. But because the way publishers operate it matters a great deal to us, and thus marks an important milestone.
Far more important to members and readers is that this move will make American Rifleman, in all its print and digital versions, better media. That’s because Ann Smith is an extremely talented and perceptive editor, highly knowledgeable about guns and how vital they are to our present-day American culture. We need to make the very most of her skill and energy, and so I’m convinced that teaming her with American Rifleman Editor-in-Chief Mark Keefe and the rest of the staff will give us an edge in the fast-changing media landscape.
Perhaps it appears we are playing catch-up in terms of gender politics, but in fact NRA has been all about equal opportunity for quite some time. Two women (Marion Hammer and Sandra Froman) have served as NRA President, and there have been women in top-level jobs such as NRA-ILA Executive Director and NRA Chief of Staff. In Publications women have been a big part of the picture for 25 years or more, including Lourdes Kite, our long-time Deputy Executive Director, and female editors on American Hunter, America’s 1st Freedom, NRA Family InSights and Shooting Sports USA. Always, however, our mandate has been to hire the best person for the job, regardless of sex, race or whatever, and as circumstances have it, the time for American Rifleman to diversify has come, because Ann Smith is the best editor for the job right now.