Longtime award-winning Tocsin reporter Recardo Thomas is saying goodbye to the paper this week.
Thomas, who joined The E-T six years ago, has faithfully covered just about every beat in Sunflower County during that time, including meticulous accounts of Indianola and county board meetings.
Jyesha Johnson, who joined The E-T in 2019 as the multimedia coordinator, will take over duties as staff reporter this week.
“We are sad to lose an outstanding reporter in Recardo Thomas,” said E-T Publisher Bryan Davis. “Recardo’s commitment to holding elected officials accountable and to accurate reporting each week has earned him great respect throughout the newspaper industry and in his hometown. While we hate to lose him, we are happy and excited for him and his wife, Cheryl, and their next chapter in life.”
Prior to joining The E-T staff, Thomas worked for nearly 17 years in radio, which followed a nearly two-decade stint working in warehousing in various management and supervisory positions.
“First, I give thanks to God for affording me the opportunity to work as the staff reporter for The Enterprise-Tocsin, for the past six years,” Thomas said. “Those things that I've been exposed to while here have made my experience unforgettable. I began this journey with no formal training or experience in journalism, but former editor Charlie Smith decided to take a chance on me because I had a desire to try my hand at writing. I am also grateful to editor Bryan Davis, who saw fit to allow me to continue. Along the way, I've come in close propinquity with many aspects of our community, some of which were previously oblivious to me. I've met some wonderful people, heard some amazing stories and hopefully established some lasting friendships.”
Even during the COVID-19 pandemic’s worst days, Thomas kept tabs on local board meetings, even if it was through Zoom or by phone.
“To the Sunflower County community, thank you for your hospitality and welcoming me into your meetings, events and activities,” he said. “And for those of you who fed me also, that goes double. In my role as staff reporter, I have endeavored to deliver factually accurate and unbiased accounts of the happenings in our area to our readers. It may not have always left me in the most favorable light, but I am content in the fact that it was done without any malice or guile.”
Thomas said he will miss his work family as well.
“Likely, the most difficult part of my decision to leave is having to give up the day-to-day interactions with my coworkers/family,” he said. “They are the best group of people I've ever had the opportunity to work with. They are the absolute best at what they do, they are the reason this newspaper is so successful and they have made every day for me a pleasure to behold. I would say that I am going to miss the camaraderie, but they're not getting rid of me that easily.”
During his tenure at The E-T, Thomas won many awards, including multiple first-place awards at the Mississippi Press Association’s annual convention.
Meanwhile, Johnson will transition from her duties in graphic design to pursue her original passion in reporting.
A 2015 graduate of Gentry High School, the Indianola native attended the University of Mississippi and graduated with a degree in broadcast journalism in 2019.
She joined The E-T staff full time after two stints as an intern here.
“Reporting has always been a passion of mine,” Johnson said. “Pursuing that passion in a community that has done so much for me makes it even more satisfying. I genuinely appreciate the opportunity.”
Aside from her graphic design duties, she has produced videos and has done some print reporting.
“We anticipate this transition to be smooth,” Davis said. “Jyesha is a trained journalist, who is also a great graphic artist. We expect the combination of those skills to only improve the look of the Tocsin each week. We also expect our online news product to improve, as she is highly-skilled in social media and in producing videos.”