Jacobs was born in Los Angeles and graduated from Loyola High School, where he worked as an editor on the student newspaper, The Loyalist. He matriculated to Northwestern University's Medill School of Journalism, where he studied magazine journalism.
After Mother Jones, he joined The Atlantic's global channel, where he covered international crime and other foreign affairs from Washington, D.C., under Olga Khazan and J.J. Gould. His reporting for The Atlantic was cited and featured by the New York Times,Esquire, Canadian Broadcasting Corporation's 'Q' radio program, and author Naomi Klein. He departed for an editing position at Pacific Standard.
In his first year at Pacific Standard, Jacobs oversaw the Quick Studies section of the magazine's website, which won a Folio magazine Eddie award. After two years as an associate and senior editor overseeing digital expansion, he was appointed deputy editor, second-in-command to editor-in-chief, Nicholas Jackson. Together, they reorganized the editorial team and redesigned the magazine, leading it to a National Magazine Award in 2017. During Jacobs' tenure at Pacific Standard, stories he has edited have won a Mirror Award, helped launch major books, influenced network television, and received mention in the Best American Essays anthology. He continues to work as deputy editor from the magazine's headquarters in Santa Barbara, where he lives with his wife and daughter.
His first book, The Truffle Underground, edited by Francis Lam and published by the Clarkson Potter imprint of Penguin Random House in June 2019, focuses on crime in the international truffle trade. BuzzFeed listed the book as one of the most anticipated titles of the year. "Fans of weird true crime will eat it up," the editors wrote. Publishers Weekly called the book a "fascinating work." "This deeply researched and eye-opening account of the lengths people will go for wealth, gratification, and a taste of the prized fungus will captivate readers," the reviewer concluded. In a starred review, Booklist labeled it a "remarkable" feat of reporting that brought the industry to "vivid life." Kirkus Reviews announced it as "an entertaining, revealing book debut." "A deftly crafted tale of obsessions and true crime in the culinary world," the reviewer wrote. Thrillist placed the book on its list of most anticipated summer reads, calling it "a smart, revealing expose." "True crime nerds, this is the unsuspecting story you've been waiting for." It was named a best book of the summer by Outside magazine and a non-fiction "page-turner" by Fortune magazine.