Recognizing Our Best: Jocelyn Dorsey

08/16/2018

Forty-five years ago, Jocelyn Dorsey became the first African-American news anchor in the Atlanta market when she went on the air for WSB-TV’s Channel 2 Action News.

Since then, she’s become an irreplaceable part of Cox, WSB-TV, and the community. Jocelyn retired Aug. 3 after a trailblazing career that not only benefited journalists who followed in her footsteps, but the communities we serve. We congratulate Jocelyn for being the latest recipient of a Gov. James M. Cox Award. She epitomizes what it means to Do it All in the Spirit of Cox by demonstrating a culture of giving back, a brave entrepreneurial spirit and a determination to be a force for good in the world.

The Early Years
During her first years as a newswoman, Jocelyn was forced to confront ignorance and racial prejudice. She was surprised when her decision to style her hair in an Afro prompted a backlash from some viewers.

She also recalled covering an environmental protection hearing in South Georgia. A white official refused to acknowledge her or talk to her. Jocelyn was angry, but she found a way to salvage the story by interviewing an EPA official who was willing to talk.  

Later, Jocelyn was covering a news conference in Atlanta for J.B. Stoner, a white supremacist who ran for lieutenant governor in 1974, when she ran up against a group of his supporters. She was the only black person there. Banners were everywhere saying “N**** go home!” One woman spat in her direction.

Jocelyn stayed for the conference, but didn’t ask a question. Publicly she kept her views to herself. But she refused to let displays of racism deter her.

After a successful 10-year stint in news, Jocelyn transitioned to serve as the station's director of editorials and public affairs. She also served as executive producer of People 2 People, a weekly half-hour public affairs program.

Campaigning for Change

WSB-TV’s public affairs department works with 170 nonprofit organizations annually and produces at least 150 Public Service Announcements (PSAs) a year.

Asked which work she is most proud of, Jocelyn said it is editorials and PSAs which championed mandatory seat belt usage and advocated for tougher penalties for prostitution of a minor. Both campaigns led to new or improved Georgia laws. Her editorial on seat belt usage won her an Emmy.

That was just one among many accolades Jocelyn has received. She has won seven Southeast Regional Emmys for Editorial Excellence from the National Academy of Television Arts & Sciences. Jocelyn was also the first African-American inducted into the same organization’s Silver Circle, for more than 25 years in journalism. And, she was the first woman and first African-American to receive the Broadcaster’s Citizen of the Year Award for lifetime achievement from the Georgia Association of Broadcasters.

Channel 2 Action News Anchor Jovita Moore described Jocelyn as an incredible resource and role model. Like Jocelyn, Jovita moved to Atlanta from another location and has worked hard to build community relationships. 

“She did everything possible to be that liaison from WSB-TV to the metro Atlanta community,” said Channel 2 Action News Anchor Jovita Moore. “She is an amazing role model in this TV station. She is a wealth of information. And she is a dedicated professional.”

“Win the Community”

In her retirement, Jocelyn will devote more time to touring the country on her 2014 Harley-Davidson Street Glide. And, she will remain active on the advisory boards of a half-dozen nonprofits.

If there’s one thing Jocelyn wants journalists who follow in her footsteps to learn from her, it’s that success comes to those who help others. Or, more simply put: “When you win the community, you win the ratings.”

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