By Tyrik Wynn
Dorothy Tucker’s first year as president of the National Association of Black Journalists has been full of challenges.
After taking the helm of a financially healthy organization, Tucker faced the prospect of huge losses when the COVID-19 pandemic threatened the cancellation of the annual convention. On top of that, the television journalist suffered as a patient of the fast-spreading virus herself.
But she has made a hands-on approach the hallmark of her presidency, ensuring that at board meetings in Los Angeles and Birmingham earlier this year, board members got out of the conference room and visited newsrooms in those cities.
“We talked to news managers that we had never spoken with before. We met with people that we hadn’t had the opportunity to see in person before,” she said. “We had a chance to really engage with some news managers there and push our mission of more blacks in the newsroom and more blacks in management.”
While planning her first convention, a joint conference with the National Association of Hispanic Journalists, Tucker and the board had to navigate a pandemic that made a large gathering unsafe.
After lengthy negotiations with the Marriott Corp. over the contract for the hotel’s convention space in Washington, D.C., the organizations pivoted to a virtual convention.
“This has really been a historical moment for NABJ. It is our first virtual convention,” Tucker said. “It is uncharted waters. It has been both exciting and exhilarating, and stressful and frightful all at the same time.”
The stress extended to Tucker’s private life and health as well. She caught the virus, but she kept working through it, she said.
“I just sat my butt down and continued to do NABJ work and I continued to do the research for the stories I needed to do for CBS Chicago,” she said.
She said she plans to continue working for her priorities of greater representation.
“It is critical that we expand our push for more blacks in top management positions,” she said. “I have had the opportunity to talk to newspapers, publishers, television CEOs and that is the one thing I have repeated time and time again.”