Jordan Green's Last Column: Goodbye, Blackwell

by Jordan Green

Of all the things I wanted to do as a kid, I never thought I’d be a newspaper reporter. But as I look back on my life, I can see that I was always destined to be one – and to find my life’s calling at The Blackwell Journal-Tribune.

When I was in Cub Scouts 15 years ago, several Scouts and I came to the old Journal-Tribune office on Blackwell Avenue for a tour. I still have some photos from our walk through the building. I remember the first time I saw Tina Anderson working there, and she’s as pretty today as she was then. I loved the tour, and I was fascinated by the newspaper.

Several years later, I wrote a letter to the editor, and it made it into print. And it wasn’t long afterward that Wilma Harman, one of my music teachers, said I ought to write a column about the positive things happening in Blackwell. I was only 14 at the time.

Just three short years later, in May 2017, I skipped lunch on the last Tuesday of my sophomore year of high school to edit stories in The Journal-Tribune. I had plans of becoming a lawyer one day – never a newsman. I wanted to learn to edit stories to become a better writer, but not a reporter.

Somewhere along the way, however, the news bug bit me and filled me with a passion for telling stories, digging up the truth and meeting new people. Now, there’s nothing else I’d rather do for my occupation.

I am a newsman at heart, and it all started here at The Journal-Tribune. It’s been a little more than six years since Tina and the team took a chance on a high school guy with no journalistic experience, but it’s been one of the most rewarding opportunities of my life. Now, it’s time to take what God has given me through this team, this town and this time and embark upon a new adventure.

This is my last column for The Journal-Tribune, the newspaper where God trained me and equipped me to be a lifelong newsman. On Friday, I’ll be moving to Longview, Texas, to work for The Longview News-Journal as a full-time reporter through the Report for America program, which aims to help cover underreported issues across the country. My six-year career at my hometown newspaper – from intern to columnist to reporter – is over.

The Journal-Tribune means a lot to me, and it’s bittersweet to leave. The reason these six years have been such blessings revolves around one word: people.

The crew here at The Journal-Tribune is awesome. Tina Anderson, Charles Gerian, Kris Wayman, Pearl Austin and Courtney Engle have been tremendous friends and coworkers, and we’ve grown closer through the years. We shared countless laughs together in our office on Main Street, and we worked together to produce a newspaper that has helped our community. I love them all.

Working at The Journal-Tribune hasn’t always been easy. We’ve told a lot of stories that ticked a lot of people off, but we did so because it was our job. We don’t enjoy riling people up, but sometimes, the truth is painful. Knowing that we were doing the right thing, in spite of the forces against us, was one of the most rewarding experiences of my life. Unless you’ve worked in journalism, you’ll never understand the excitement of racing to get an interview, typing the words out as quickly as you can and rushing to “break” the news – good or bad – of what’s happening in the very town where you were raised. It’s an adrenaline rush unlike any other.

I really can’t describe how exciting it’s been to be tasked with telling the stories of this community. Even though Blackwell is small, there’s no shortage of news here, and being at The Journal-Tribune helped me meet a lot of wonderful people, ask a lot of prying questions and share information that this community needs. The Good Lord has given me my best stories, and so has Momma. You’d probably laugh if you knew how I got a lot of my column and story ideas. Oftentimes, stories about community events, fascinating people and interesting history seemed to fall into my lap by chance. I don’t believe in chance, however.

Working here helped me get acquainted with some of my best friends and mentors not only in journalism, but in life. Dayle McGaha, who retired from The Journal-Tribune around the time I was born, became one of my best friends. So too did retired Ponca City News editor Louise Abercrombie and former News reporter Sharon Rowen. Though we worked for rival newspapers, we’ve shared a lot of fun moments through the years, and all have helped me grow.

The friends and family who’ve supported me in this journey are the greatest blessings God has given me in this career and in my life. So are you, the readers who’ve welcomed me into your homes each week for six years. So many of you have told me how much you appreciate the work we do here, and your kind words keep us going. We don’t work for compliments, but we do appreciate them. The fact that so many of you have read my column since its inception is just amazing to me. Like me, this column has changed a lot through the years, but hopefully for the better. As the Clint Black song goes, I’m leaving here a better man. And to quote George Strait, somewhat, this is where the newsboy rides away.

As a team, all of us at The Journal-Tribune have worked together to shine a light on corruption, highlight noble community efforts and help this community connect and find joy. The glory for that work goes to God, and I sincerely hope you’ll continue to support this newspaper for many years to come. Though I won’t be here, this team still loves this community, and this community needs this newspaper. The Journal-Tribune has helped this city for more than 100 years, and I hope it has another 100 ahead.

“Thank you” just doesn’t say what needs to be said to all my family, friends, mentors, coworkers, readers and fellow community members who’ve helped me along the way. Though the past is behind us, the lessons you’ve taught me, the wisdom you’ve shared with me and the love you’ve shown me are forever in my heart – and in the stories I tell. To each and every one of you who’ve flipped through these pages to read this column and my stories for six years, know that you’re part of the reason I live.

If you ever think you can’t bloom where you’re planted or that there’s no purpose for your life, take a look at me. Somehow, God took a guy like me and gave him a job at a newspaper, and it changed his life forever. Hopefully, somewhere down the line, the stories I tell will help others as much as God and others have helped me – as much as you’ve helped me, too. I never thought I’d be a newsman, but now, I can think of being nothing else.

God bless y’all, and thanks again!