For Hire



Zay N. Smith

Zay N. Smith is an award-winning author and newspaper columnist known for his work at the Chicago Sun-Times.

He is available for freelance work in writing, rewriting and copy-editing.

Smith made his early mark in the 1978 Mirage Tavern investigation, in which he was one of two undercover Chicago Sun-Times reporters operating a bar on the city’s Near North Side while hidden photographers took pictures of city officials accepting bribes.

He wrote the 25-part series and a book on the project The Mirage (Random House, 1979) .

Smith later worked as an investigative reporter on stories ranging from laetrile smuggling to religious cults, as a foreign correspondent on such stories as the pilgrimages of Pope John Paul II to Poland and as a writer of major features.

Smith is most recently known for his popular QT column, a mixture of humor and commentary that he wrote for the Sun-times before taking the column to  the Internet at

The Los Angeles Times referred to Smith as “our favorite Chicago columnist since Mike Royko.”

Smith has been awarded the Society of Professional Journalists National Distinguished Service Medallion, along with a number of Associated Press, United Press International and other major press association awards for writing and reporting.

The Mirage investigation was awarded the 1979 Pulitzer Prize for general reporting by the final Pulitzer jury, although prize was later withdrawn because the Pulitzer board finally voted not to approve of  investigative reporters using undercover techniques, an issue that remains  controversial.

Smith has also taught graduate-level courses in writing and news reporting at Northwestern University.

His freelance work since leaving the Chicago Sun-Times includes:

  • The 2013-14 Field Foundation Biennial Report, for which he wrote articles about organizations supported by the foundation
  • Copy-editing for the book Covering Urban Violence, published by Public Narrative (formerly Community Media Workshop) in Chicago.
    Smith has recently finished ghost-writing a popular book and copy-editing a Civil War history.

Smith”s résumé is here.

Wikipedia provides further information here.

Inquiries are welcome at