Jake Old: New Mountain Press reporter sees journalism as a calling

Nov. 02, 2013 @ 11:02 PM

My name is Jake Old, and I’m the newest reporter at The Mountain Press.

I’ve been sitting in front of this computer for more than half an hour, awkwardly attempting to put into words some sort of description of who I am without it feeling too forced or corny.

So far, unsuccessful.

If there’s only one thing you learn about me from this column, let it be this: I am the proud owner of a fantastic beard. It even has a bit of a reddish-brown, autumn-appropriate color to it. And now that you know that, we have the important part out of the way.

Now on to everything else.

I come from a fairly large family, as I grew up being the middle of five children, and there was another sibling who was already grown by the time I was born. I consider myself extremely fortunate to have to love and respect of my siblings, parents and extended family.

I am originally from Murfreesboro, where I lived for the entirety of my life until now. I attended college at Middle Tennessee State University and earned a Bachelor of Science in Mass Communications.

In the summer of 2012, I completed an internship with The Tennessean in Nashville, and it was an experience that confirmed journalism as my calling and storytelling as my passion. I worked in features and had the opportunity to learn from an exceptional staff of writers and editors, as well as the chance to cover countless memorable stories.

During college, and after graduating, I performed as a guitar player and singer in a few different rock bands in Middle Tennessee, most recently one called the End-Evers. I have played the guitar for more than 15 years.

Attempting to have a career as a professional musician was something that I needed to try – if for no other reason than to look back on my life when I’m older without the twinge of regret wondering, “What if?”

I have always had the itch to write, however. And with the opportunity to build a career in journalism, I took at the very least a temporary step away from professional music aspirations.

It’s hard to leave friends and family. And it’s hard to leave my bandmates, high school friends who are like brothers to me. But not as hard as it is to ignore the need to be a writer.

I will say that I legitimately have no idea where I will be 10 years from now. Or even five. Because in life, like in music, I like to play things by ear. But for right now, I couldn’t ask for a better situation.

So here I am, a general assignment reporter with The Mountain Press.

Bob Dylan once wrote, in his song “A Song to Woody,” which was dedicated to his idol Woody Guthrie, who was in poor health at the time:

“I’m out here a thousand miles from my home,

Walking a road other men have gone down.

I see a new world of people and things,

Hear paupers and peasants and princes and kings.”

I may not be quite that far from the place I have always called home, but the song still resonates strongly with me at the moment. I’m carving my way through my chosen profession the way countless others have before me. And even though much of it is familiar territory, it does feel like an entirely new and exciting world for me to explore.

I still do not know much about living over here, as I only recently arrived in town. I did learn shortly after the start of my first day on the job that I need to make sure to spell the word “Smoky” correctly. I’m learning.

It may be difficult to glean from this column, but I try not to take myself too seriously.

I’m looking forward to reporting the news here and getting to know Sevier County.