A native of the sparsely populated Mississippi Delta, Blackley began his newspaper career in his hometown as a high school student. He went on to serve managing editor of The Daily Mississippian, the student newspaper at the University of Mississippi. He earned a B.A. degree in English/communications from Delta State University. He worked as managing editor of the (then) daily Clarksdale Press-Register in Clarksdale, Mississippi, before leaving the newsroom to manage community newspapers in Mississippi, Alabama and Georgia. His last stint before joining Lakeway was in Covington, Tenn., where he spent eight years as publisher. He has won numerous press association awards across multiple states for writing, photography and his work in creating magazine products. A husband a father of two, Blackley enjoys kayaking, camping, fishing and playing music.