Hello, I’m Jenna Stambaugh. I’m the new publisher here at Hard Knox Wire.
Although I have been surrounded by writers and reporters for most of my life, and despite having occasionally stuck my toe into the water and published a piece here or there, this is my first full-time professional job in journalism. The leap from occasionally publishing a freelance piece to becoming a publisher is a large one, and I need to do some rapid learning and growth. Most likely, I’ll make some mistakes along the way. But I promise that as soon as I figure out what my mistakes are, I’ll do my best to make things right.
Unfortunately, some of my activities prior to be today have been the kind that — if I were a reporter — would give my bosses grey hairs and make them drink even more heavily than journalists are already prone to do.
Actually, that’s not entirely true. They’d never hire me to begin with.
You see, many people in Knoxville and surrounding communities know me primarily through activities which are highly political in nature. I’m an activist who’s been deeply involved in several political movements, usually on the liberal end of the spectrum but sometimes also those labeled “Far Left” by opponents.
I don’t believe that I’ve done anything wrong by supporting these causes. I don’t believe that I have done anything to apologize for. As a citizen of the United States, I have an absolute right under the First Amendment to speak my mind and protest against government policies that I disagree with.
But I also know that supporting political causes is completely unacceptable for someone in my new position.
I’ve been organizing protests, other political actions, and mutual aid efforts for many years (not to mention championing the use of the Oxford comma, much to husband’s chagrin). Even if I was able to distance myself mentally from these causes and write about them with complete objectivity, the appearance of impropriety would always be there.
Therefore, I am stepping down from leadership and front-line rolls in all activist causes that I have been involved with. And I won’t be joining any new causes, either. The only exceptions that I will make are those required by my religious beliefs (for the record, I am both Jewish and Episcopal). I trust that no one will object to my taking part in activities through church or synagogue, but if it ever becomes necessary I will disclose the details to you, our customer, so that you can provide feedback and make your own evaluations about my credibility.
I realize that some readers may still be bothered by some of the things I’ve done or the causes I have supported. At the least, I’ve been “outed” as a Leftist and some may question whether they can ever really trust my reporting.
I know the only way that I can win you over is by building trust. And that is exactly what I intend to do — earn your trust by living up to the highest ethical standards of this profession, with every article I publish.
Becoming a newspaper publisher is not what I expected at this, or any other, point in my life. At the same time, it feels like maybe I’m coming home to where I belong. My mother was a college English instructor and published writer. Because of her, I was sitting in college English classes when many of my friends had yet to start reading chapter books. For most of my adult life, I’ve been married to an award-winning investigative reporter, J.J. Stambaugh. Throughout our marriage, I have helped him edit stories and accompanied him on assignments. So, while this is in some ways all very new, in a way it’s also what I’ve been doing my entire life.
I feel like I’m finally embracing my fate.
When trying to keep track of my various activities in addition to my career, my husband has often made the comment that watching me “makes his eyeballs hurt.” I enjoy roller skating (which included roller derby when I was younger and less breakable), dancing, gardening, white water rafting, zip lining, camping, cooking, playing computer games, reading, and doing arts and crafts.
I have a plethora of hobbies, and my innate sense of curiosity about the world and my desire to experience as much as possible will serve me well as a journalist.
I’ve always felt that whatever career I landed in, I wanted it to be one where I would make a difference. For the first few years of my adult life, I did this as a social worker focused mostly on domestic violence programs. After realizing how much difference could be made in educational settings I then switched to teaching, which I have been doing for the past 15 years. I believe that I will continue to make a difference in the world by publishing the news that matters to our community in Hard Knox Wire.