NEWLAND — AJT Editor Jamie Shell this week announced the hiring of Luke Barber as news reporter for the Avery Journal-Times, effective February 19.
Barber comes to Mountain Times Publications from Lenoir, NC. He was most recently a writer with The Franklin Press as well as served as a freelance writer for multiple publications, including the Watauga Democrat.
“I’m happy to welcome Luke to Avery County, to Newland and to our staff,” Shell said.
“What I am most looking forward to about coming to work in Avery County is going out and getting to know the people that live here and telling their stories,” Barber said about returning to Avery County. “When I first started working as a journalist, I really did not expect that I would enjoy this aspect of the job as much as I do. There is something interesting about every single person, and everyone has a story to tell. You just have to ask the right questions.”
Barber originally hails from Charlotte and is a graduate of Sun Valley High School. He earned an associate of arts degree from Caldwell Community College and Technical Institute and is also a 2018 graduate of Appalachian State University with a bachelor’s degree in communications and journalism, along with a minor in sustainable technology.
Barber has also been employed with Samaritan’s Purse in Boone, and was also an intern with The Avery Journal-Times in the summer of 2016, where he covered the busy summer activities of the local area, including the Grandfather Mountain Highland Games.
“I have been an avid consumer of news and journalism since a young age. I have always found the journalist’s place in society quite compelling. They act as a watchdog for their community, and when they are at their best, they give a voice to the people in society who do not have one,” Barber said.
Barber notes multiple journalistic influences upon his career as he embarks on his new role at The AJT.
“When I decided to study journalism in college, I was reading a lot of Hunter S. Thompson and Christopher Hitchens. I thought the lives that both of these jounalists lived were both fascinating as well as intellectually rigorous,” Barber noted.”However, I now consider Luke, the biblical author of “The Gospel of Luke,” to be the most important journalist in history. Luke was a physician by trade, as well as a contemporary of Paul. In the years following Jesus’s death and resurrection, Luke went around interviewing the people who had encountered Jesus, cross referencing sources and recording their stories. While he is not traditionally thought of as a journalist, he performed the same duties as one and thus influenced the lives of millions throughout history. I can’t think of any modern journalist to better emulate.”
“Luke brings a great deal of experience and passion to this position,” Shell added. “Having served as my first intern after becoming editor with The AJT, Luke was eager to learn, as well as was reliable and dependable in covering stories of Avery County and its people. Now as staff writer, I look forward to him continuing to share stories worth telling to our readers on all facets of life in our area.”
Barber will be covering local government and news, as well as education, crime and feature stories with The AJT.
Barber is married, exchanging vows with his wife, the former Laissa Maicel, on Feb. 14, 2020. When not at work, Barber enjoys spending time with his wife, who is an avid traveler. He also enjoys hikes through the mountains, trout fishing, reading a good book and going to see live music.
To reach Barber, email him at email@example.com.