June 22, 2018 – A faculty member of Arkansas State University gave her a nickname— not something typically done with students, but he felt it was warranted.
“Because anything is possible for her,” says Alexander Brown, instructor of creative media production, of The Excelsior Spring’s Standard new managing editor, Kimberely Blackburn. “She can accomplish anything she wants to, nothing is impossible for her.”
Blackburn holds a bachelor’s in theater, with a minor in vocal music from Harding University in Searcy, Arkansas. She made the decision to return to school and get her graduate degree after a near-death experience. After waking up on a respirator in CCU a few years ago, Blackburn says the doctors told her family she would not live through the night.
Blackburn’s background rooted in journalism
Obviously, Blackburn did live through the night. As she says, “That’s what happens when you tell me I can’t do something.” The experience launched her into a different direction—that of journalism. She received a master’s in Mass Communication with an emphasis in print journalism from A-State in Jonesboro, Arkansas.
Blackburn also worked as the editor of Delta Digital News Service, contributor for New American Journal, anchor and producer for NEA Expose’, and anchor and producer for Red Wolf Radio News, before accepting the position at The Standard, moving to Excelsior Springs from Arkansas.
Ronald Sitton, instructor of multimedia journalism, says Blackburn proved to be a good writer, a good journalist and a good editor. He added that Blackburn looks at the bigger picture, with an eye to the community.
“She’s got a feel for what news is,” Sitton says. “She really looks into the community, to find things that are of interest to everyone, because she always takes the time to ask the questions that need to be asked, and to follow up if necessary.”
He added that she “has a nose for journalism” and an ability to get all sides and angles of a story, paired with conscientiousness and meticulousness.
Blackburn brings heart, ethics to journalism
Sandra L. Combs, associate professor of multimedia journalism, agreed with Sitton on Blackburn’s ability to gather information from all sides and angles, but also praised Blackburn’s heart and ethics.
“She writes based on style, based on grammar, based on ethics and based on heart,” Combs says. “She has a great heart, and she writes from the heart.”
Combs explained one of the codes of ethics in journalism is to do no harm, Blackburn takes that code seriously.
“Even if it is a touchy subject, she will dig until she gets the truth from all sides, and write to do no harm,” says Combs.
Blackburn looks to make community impact
Blackburn made the decision to move out-of-state, but says making that sort of decision is in her blood, as the daughter of a Navy man, and the sister of a travel nurse. She did admit, though, that the decision to uproot herself may be “because I’m crazy.”
After losing both parents in 2017, Blackburn says nothing tied her to Arkansas. Calling herself an adventurous person, she says she’s travelled to India and even went sky diving, among her other adventures.
“I can’t express into words the excitement I had when Kimberely joined our team here at The Standard,” said Publisher Brian Rice. “This year has been one of change and growth for our organization. We have assembled a great news team over the past year, and with Kimberely’s talents, experience and leadership as managing editor, The Standard will see a whole new level of style and professionalism I’m sure our readers will enjoy.”
Blackburn joined the staff June 11 and plunged right in. She says she looks forward most to making a difference for the community.
“I love to tell the stories of those who generally do not have their stories told,” Blackburn says. “I love investigative journalism and am not afraid to ask questions about how actions will impact others’ lives.”
“We all miss her,” Brown says. “You are extremely fortunate to have her. We really hope for the best for her—that’s what we do.”