Jacob Demmitt is already a “bulldog” journalist — the recent University of Georgia graduate joined The Roanoke Times in May as our business and technology reporter based in the New River Valley.
Hometown: Peachtree City, Georgia. It’s a big golf-cart community south of Atlanta. The whole town rides golf carts pretty much everywhere, from the grocery store to the high school. So I guess it’s fair to say I didn’t exactly have the most typical childhood.
College: The University of Georgia (Go Dawgs!)
Why journalism: To be honest, I never really considered a different career. My parents nicknamed me “the voice” when I was a kid because I could never stop talking. I always wanted people to hear what I had to say, so journalism just seemed to make sense.
Years in journalism: I had a couple internships and always worked for my college newspaper, but this is my first taste of professional journalism. I’ve been waiting so long to get my career started that I’m still having a hard time believing it’s finally time.
Other newsrooms where you have worked: I spent four years at The Red & Black, UGA’s student newspaper. I also interned with The Gainesville Times in Gainesville, Ga., and The Washington Examiner in Washington, D.C.
Proudest journalism accomplishments: In college, I made a point to learn as many different ways to tell a story as possible. I generally don’t believe awards are the best measure of good journalism, but it was pretty cool when I won awards for print, TV, radio and online reporting in one year.
Journalists you admire and why: Ira Glass from “This American Life.” I don’t know of a single other journalist who can tell a story like he can. He may be a radio guy, but I’ve learned a lot from him about how to bring an audience along with clear and simple language. I once heard Glass turn stories about chickens into an hour-long episode I couldn’t wait to tell my friends about – that’s just good storytelling.
Websites you visit regularly: New York Times (especially FiveThirtyEight and Bits Blog), The AP’s Big Story, Wired, TechCrunch and Google maps (I have a terrible sense of direction). I also find Reddit fascinating, not just because it’s the best place to find pictures of cats, but because it’s such a powerful communication tool. Post something worthwhile there and you have a good chance of stirring up quite a buzz.
Favorite books: Most recently, it’s “Steve Jobs” by Walter Isaacson. The book highlights just how quickly the computer revolution happened. It seems hard to believe the same person who helped develop the first consumer computers also worked on the first iPad. I love hearing how far we’ve come in such a short time so I can think about where we’ll be just a few years from now.
Favorite movies: I’m not a big fan of fiction just because I think there are so many interesting real-life stories that haven’t been told yet. So almost all my favorite movies are documentaries. A few from my short list: “Restrepo,” “The King of Kong: A Fistful of Quarters,” “Waiting for ‘Superman’” and “Brother’s Keeper.”
Interests outside of work: I love watching sports and I try to play them when I get a chance, but not very well. I haven’t missed a Georgia Bulldogs football game in a few years so I’m sure I’ll be making some trips down south once the season gets started. I like experiencing new things so I try to travel and cook strange foods whenever I have the free time.
Interesting fact about you that few know: I just started a pretty strange vegan diet. It’s kind of heresy because I come from a family of dairy farmers, but I thought it would be interesting to see if I could do it. I’m still in the early phases of this little experiment and I already find myself cheating… a lot. I’m not sure how long it will last, but so far so good.