Fox 8 News Anchor and Reporter, 44
Jennifer Jordan swipes a streak of ash-colored powder from just below her left eyebrow to the tip of her nose, then moves to the other side. She leaves the vertical strip of makeup untouched, unblended.
The switch to high-definition television means every imperfection is enhanced, yet every asset is also subdued. So the Fox 8 noon news anchor and evening reporter is creating the perfect, slender nose with foundation.
"I sit here and put on a pound of makeup every day," she says from a stool in front of a mirror in her cinder-block dressing room.
Jordan watches The View on a small flat-screen TV that's reflected in the mirror. "I hate wearing makeup," she says. "On the weekends, I won't wear any at all, unless I'm going to church."
Since arriving in Cleveland nearly three years ago, the 44-year-old has covered everything from the rescue of Michelle Knight, Amanda Berry and Gina DeJesus from Ariel Castro's home to a profile of golf legend and Presidential Medal of Freedom winner Charles Sifford.
While in New York, where she grew up and lived on and off until 2012, Jordan's work included covering the attempted car bombing in Times Square and a 2001 investigative series "Predator Next Door," which earned her an Emmy award.
But her medium demands she care about her looks too.
"On TV news, unfortunately, they look first before they hear any of the words coming out of your mouth," Jordan explains.⚫
While growing up in Westchester, New York, Jordan was in drama club and dabbled in high school musicals. She even toyed with the idea of launching a career on a Broadway stage.
But there was no real question that her stage would in be a TV newsroom.
Her father read the newspaper each morning and dozed off in the evenings with the local news or 60 Minutes in the background.
"I was always up on current events," Jordan says. "In high school, I always read the morning announcements."
Jordan even read the school's upcoming events for a local radio station. "I always wanted to get the news out to people," she says.
Jordan attended Johnson C. Smith University in Charlotte, North Carolina, a small, private college not known for its journalism program. So she made up for it by interning at all three news stations in the city.
Her best friend at the university, Nicole Perkins, recalls being attracted to Jordan's optimism and go-getter attitude. "When my other girlfriends and I were wearing hip-hop clothes, she was wearing clothes from Casual Corner," Perkins says. "We were like, Hello, you can lighten up a little bit! We're at a party. You can wear some shorts! She was born an anchorwoman."
By 2001, Jordan returned to Westchester as a staff reporter and weekend anchor at News 12 and won two Emmy awards, one for overall work on-air and the other for the "Predator Next Door."
For the investigative piece, she and several producers and videographers worked undercover for two months with a police department in Scarsdale County, filming while an officer dressed as a layman approached children in public spaces and asked for help finding a lost puppy.
"We told the mother first," Jordan explains. "So the only one who didn't know what was happening was the child."
Four of the five children who participated went with the strangers. "Some of the parents just cried when they saw their child go," she says. "It was a story that really alerted a lot of parents that what they were teaching their children about strangers wasn't working."
The story hit close to home with Jordan too.
She and her then-husband had their own young daughter, named Jordan after her own maiden name, at home. Since she separated from her husband in 2005, it hasn't always been easy to support her child.
"She is definitely my everything," Jordan says.
In 2009, after working as a general-assignment reporter and weekend anchor at New York City's WWOR for three years, her contract wasn't renewed.
"It was during the economy crash," she says. "Everyone whose contract was up for renewal that year wasn't offered another."
She took on freelance work, commuting from White Plains, New York, each morning into the city and returning each night. When a massive, city-stopping snowstorm hit Manhattan, she recalls working a 12-hour shift, taking the train back home just long enough to shower and change. She then returned to her outdoor coverage for another six hours, leaving her daughter, then in elementary school, with another family.
"A lot of people think our industry is all about glamour and celebrity," she says. "But we work really hard, and it's a lot of deadlines. It's a lot of rushing."
So after discussing an opening for an anchor position at Fox 8 in Cleveland with her agent in 2012, she didn't hesitate to apply. Jordan had been to Cleveland just twice before — most recently in 2011 for Perkins' hometown wedding.
She recalls waiting to leave for the ceremony, biding time by flipping through the channels and watching the local news. "I was like, Oh, Cleveland puts out a pretty good news product," she says. "And who would've thought that less than a year later I would be working here."
She and her daughter moved to Cleveland in 2012.⚫
With her makeup complete and hair curled, Jordan walks from the dressing room to an accordion door, which she pulls to the side to reveal the noon news set. There, three dozen lights shine onto a platform topped by a single desk, two iPads, two laptops and two rolling chairs.
Jordan slips into the right-hand chair, and three 8-foot-tall cameras stare her down. She stares back at her reflection and fusses with a few stray hairs, checks her teeth. Within moments, her co-anchor, Akron native Gabe Spiegel, mounts the platform and sits beside her. Today is his birthday.
"Happy 65th birthday, Gabe!" Jordan yells and slaps his shoulder. He's 41.
"Very funny," he replies, and the only other person in the studio — a woman who controls the cameras from a station 15 feet away — counts down, three, two, one.
Jordan snaps to attention, warning Fox 8's midday watchers of hazardous snow conditions with an even voice.
"The way she sounds on TV is the way she sounds in real life," explains Melissa Reid, Jordan's co-worker and friend. "The rest of us have to work hard to change our pitch and tone to make it appropriate for delivering the news, but Jennifer has a personality and presence that is naturally perfect for it."
Jordan knows just hours later she'll be riding shotgun through Mentor, as a cameraman drives, searching for shots to send back to the station as she calls in the conditions to the evening anchors. She's less than thrilled about the prospect — she'd rather head home. But nothing other than professionalism and concern for her viewers comes across as she anchors the newscast beside Spiegel, reporting on the National League Cy Young Award winner, the rising price of milk and Radio Shack's Black Friday hours.
Then it's time to join meteorologist Angelica Campos on a separate set, where they'll slice into a sheet cake on camera to celebrate Spiegel's birthday. She lights each candle and watches as he blows them out. Jordan looks so happy — but not just for Spiegel. She's in her element.
"I don't even know what a Plan B would have been for me," she says. "I never had a Plan B."
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