“This job has enabled this poor kid from Louisville, Kentucky who grew up down the street from Muhammad Ali to not only cover the greatest city in the world but also to see much of the world.”
The Washington Association of Black Journalists salutes veteran broadcast journalist Bruce Johnson, who retired from WUSA9 in December after 44 years.
Johnson, 70, worked as an evening anchor and reporter at the CBS affiliate. He also filed special reports from Cuba, Haiti, Rome, Bangkok, Moscow and Budapest.
Among the many accolades Johnson has received for his exemplary body of work are 22 Emmy Awards, inductions into the Washington, D.C. and the Society of Professional Journalists halls of fame, and the National Capital Chesapeake Bay Chapter of the National Academy of Television Arts & Sciences’ 2018 Board of Governors Award. He was recently recognized by the owners of the landmark D.C. restaurant Ben’s Chili Bowl with a mural on a wall that also has depictions of several influential Black Americans with ties to the District, including former President Barack Obama, former first lady Michelle Obama, and the late D.C legends Chuck Brown, the godfather of go-go music, and Jim Vance, local news giant.
“Bruce Johnson is truly a trailblazer and staple in the Washington, D.C., community who has dedicated his professional life to telling compelling stories and elevating issues that matter locally, nationally and across the globe,” WABJ President Khorri Atkinson said. “WABJ is proud of the excellence Mr. Johnson brought to on-air reporting at WUSA9 for almost five decades. His remarkable career is an inspiration to emerging Black journalists, and WABJ wishes him a joyous and healthy new chapter of his life.”
During a call Tuesday evening with Atkinson, Johnson said he will release a book this year about his life and career, and that he will become active with local community organizations and continue to mentor young journalists across the country.
Johnson also lauded several legendary Black journalists, including Vance, J.C. Hayward, Paul Berry and NABJ co-founders Max Robinson and Maureen Bunyan, saying that they greatly impacted his life when he moved to the District in March 1976.
“I stand on the shoulders of all of those great African-American journalists who were here when I got here and showed me the way — whether they worked with me directly or were in competition. I had to look left or right to see how it was supposed to be done in this market,” Johnson said. “This job has enabled this poor kid from Louisville, Kentucky who grew up down the street from Muhammad Ali to not only cover the greatest city in the world but also to see much of the world.”
According to a recent announcement by 3D Executive Communications, the broadcast veteran will join the firm as a senior communications specialist and executive communications coach.
“Bruce isn’t just a reporter in Washington, he is an institution,” said 3D Executive Communications co-founder Cindy DiBiasi in the announcement of Johnson’s hiring. “For almost half a century, he has captured the voice of the community and told their story – even in the most challenging times. His uncanny ability to connect with people, get to the root of an issue, and develop a story that is both authentic and meaningful is exactly what leaders and organizations need more than ever.”
In addition to having been a veteran journalist, Johnson is the author of two books. His first book, “Heart to Heart,” captured his recovery from a heart attack in 1992 while he was on a news assignment. Johnson’s ebook, “All or Nothing, The Victor Page Story,” is based on a series of exclusive interviews with one-time D.C. basketball star Victor Page, who once played for the Georgetown University Hoyas and Sioux Falls Skyforce.
Johnson is also a lifetime member of Kappa Alpha Psi Fraternity Inc.
WUSA9 contributed to this statement.
Founded in 1975, the Washington Association of Black Journalists is an organization for African-American journalists, journalism professors, public relations professionals and student journalists in the Washington, D.C., metro area. WABJ provides members with ongoing professional education opportunities and advocates for greater diversification of the profession.