Veteran reporter Compton returns to Middlesboro News

Published 11:30 am Thursday, January 4, 2024

Staff Report

A familiar face will be covering Middlesboro and Bell County for the Middlesboro News.

Former editor Jay Compton returned to the paper on Tuesday and brings a wealth of experience with him.

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“I’ve covered news and sports in Bell County for 25 years,” Compton said.

Compton is excited to continue to serve the community.

“There are really good people here in Bell County,” he said. “Middlesboro has its own tight-knight community. Pineville has its own tight-knit community. I like the people around here. They care about their communities. I feel like it is a responsibility to share those stories of how they try and take care of each other.”

He is also eager to tell the story of how the area is trying to reinvent itself as its chief export dwindles in quantity.

“The last 10-15 years has seen a big drop in coal as an industry. So right now, the story of this community is how it is coming together to find and transition to a tourism-based economy,” Compton said.

The Appalachian Mountains run deep in Compton’s blood. He is originally from Beckley, West Virginia, and attended Lincoln Memorial University in Harrogate, Tennessee, for a few years before finishing his communication arts degree at Concord University in the Mountaineer State.

After finishing his education, Compton returned to the tri-state area in 1998 and began working as a reporter at the then Middlesboro Daily News.

“I covered the city of Middlesboro for the first year or so, and then I started to branch out a bit,” Compton said.

Two years later, Compton was promoted to news editor and was subsequently promoted to managing editor in 2003.

His journey with the Daily News would take an unexpected direction a few years later.

“Our sports editor left, and I had trouble finding one, so I started doing sports, and I loved it. Actually, after trying to do both for about a year, I decided to keep doing sports instead of going back to being the editor for the news side,” Compton said.

In 2015, Compton took over as the editor and general manager for The Pineville Sun and served in that role until December 2023.

Compton’s wife Tyna, is an English teacher across the Tennessee border in Claiborne County. The couple have two grown sons, Tyler and Zach, and a teenage daughter, Hannah.