She attended Sacred Heart Secondary School in Westport, County Mayo and in 1987 went on to National University of Ireland, Galway for a degree in English. Temping in journalism led her to the foreign news desk at ''The Observer'' in London, where she was promoted to assistant editor. However, the desk job did not suit her, and she moved into television, making documentaries in Latin America for Channel 4.
In March 2003, Jordan was in the Gaza Strip reporting on the Israeli withdrawal from Gaza. She reported on Israeli violence against Palestinians, and interviewed local people and protesters from the International Solidarity Movement within two days of the death of American activist Rachel Corrie. She also covered the killings of British activist Tom Hurndall and filmmaker James Miller. The resulting documentary was aired in June 2003 on ''Dispatches'' titled "The Killing Zone".