More than 40 years ago, when Jocelyn Dorsey entered the Atlanta market, she found herself at the center of controversy as not only WSB-TV’s first African American news anchor but the first in the Atlanta market.
“It was a very difficult time for me,” she said in a recent interview for Black History Month by Cox Media Group. “The audience had to get used to me, which was a very interesting journey.”
Dorsey came to Atlanta in 1973 as an anchor/reporter/producer and assignment editor for WSB-TV’s Channel 2 Action News. While she believed the viewing audience would and should judge her only on the content of her reports, she soon learned her appearance took center stage.
“They weren’t used to seeing African-Americans on TV, especially behind an anchor desk,” she said.
Dorsey caused more unexpected controversy because of the way she styled her hair.
“I decided I was gonna have an afro and they really weren’t used to seeing that and that created quite a stir. It was very controversial,” said Dorsey. “Now, people look at it and probably laugh about that but at the time people did not want to see that type of ethnicity on the air and I got a lot of backlash from it.”
After a decade in news, Dorsey transitioned to serve as the station’s Director of Editorials & Public Affairs. She also serves as the Executive Producer of People 2 People, a weekly half-hour public affairs program. Dorsey celebrated her 40th year at WSB-TV in 2013.
In 2016, Dorsey was inducted into the Georgia Association of Broadcasters Hall of Fame, the same year members of the Georgia delegation paused to pay tribute to Dorsey on the floor of the U.S. House of Representatives.
“Jocelyn is a professional who shines in the spotlight, who deserves the fame and acclaim, but the reason she lasted 40 years in a tough business is because she loved the people and the institution she served. We could feel it, and we loved her back,” said Rep. John Lewis, D-Georgia.
Dorsey is also the first African-American inducted into the Southeast Chapter of the National Academy of Television Arts and Sciences Silver Circle which honors journalists serving for more than 25 years in the field of journalism. She was the first woman and first African-American to receive the Georgia Association of Broadcasters (GAB) Broadcaster’s Citizen of the Year Award, a lifetime-achievement award.
Dorsey has been inducted into the National Association of Black Journalists (NABJ) Region IV Hall of Fame and has been named National Media Woman of the Year by the National Association of Media Women. Other civic honors include an Empowerment Award presented by the League of Women Voters of Georgia, and the YWCA Academy of Women Achievers, and The Winnie Mandela Humanitarian Award of Honor.
Dorsey is an avid motorcyclist who, in the summer of 2007, rode her Harley Davidson from Fairbanks, Alaska to Key West, Florida (7,688 miles in 21 days) as an Iron Torch Rider to help raise $250,000.00 for Special Olympics of Georgia. She has received proclamations from the State of Georgia, Fulton County Board of Commissioners, and DeKalb County Board of Commissioners for her years of service to the community.
Featured Image: Patch
Inset Image: WSB-TV