Pressley, Condace L. 1964–
Condace L. Pressley 1964–
The effort to find a fulfilling and enjoyable career that offers both personal and professional happiness can be daunting for most individuals but not for Condace Pressley, who took a school girl interest in broadcast journalism and turned it into a career that has brought her many rewards. As a local and national leader in several professional broadcast organizations, Pressley became an important voice in the movement to increase the number of minority journalists in radio, television, and print. At the same time, she has found a way to take a radio reporter’s job and use it as the first step toward building a successful career in broadcast journalism.
Condace L. Pressley was born in October of 1964, and grew up in Marietta, Georgia, a suburb of Atlanta. Pressley has not released any information about her childhood or her personal life other than the fact that she graduated from Marietta High School in 1982. What is known about her life focuses solely on her professional accomplishments, many of which can serve as important models for minority achievement in broadcast journalism.
After high school, Pressley received a Times-Mirror journalism scholarship to attend the University of Georgia. While in college, she began working for the campus radio station, where she polished the skills that would lead to her future career. Pressley explained her interest in broadcast journalism on the Radio-Television News Directors Association & Foundation (RTNDA) website, saying she had always “enjoyed running off at the mouth.” But she also had a talent for public speaking and so she found a job that combined interest with ability. She explained: “Someone thought that I had some speaking ability so I began to explore opportunities in broadcasting.” In 1986 Pressley graduated magna cum laude from the University of Georgia, with a bachelor’s degree in broadcast journalism and a minor in political science.
After college graduation, Pressley was offered a television job in Albany, Georgia, but turned the job down, choosing instead to stay in radio. In a biographical statement published on the RTNDA website, Pressley related that her choice to turn down the Albany job was also based on practical reasons. She explained that “all my experience was in radio, so it made sense to go where I had experience.” She took a temporary job working part-time for the Georgia Radio News Service, at WGAU-AM/WNGC-FM and WRFC in Athens, Georgia.
Within a few months of taking the part-time job at Georgia Radio News Service, Pressley found a job that was the perfect fit for her talents. She began working for WSB Radio in 1986, initially as a reporter and anchor covering Atlanta City Hall. She was also a morning news producer. In a section titled, “My Mentor,” on the RTNDA website, Pressley described how she became involved in two professional organizations—the Atlanta Association of Black Journalists
At a Glance…
Born in October of 1964, in Marietta, GA. Education: University of Georgia, BA, broadcast journalism, 1966.
Career: Radio News Service at WGAU-AMV WNGOC-FM and WRFC, part-time intern 1966; WSB Radio, anchor and reporter, 1986–88, news assignment editor, 1988–94, assistant news director, 1994–99, assistant program director, 1999-.
Memberships: Atlanta Association of Black Journalists, 1986-, president, 1992–95; National Association of Black Journalists, 1987-, regional director of Region IV, 1995–99, vice president of broadcast, 1999–2001, president, 2001–03; UNITY: Journalist of Color, treasurer, 2003-; RTNDA, board of directors, regional director, 2003.
Awards: Named one of the Ten Outstanding People in Atlanta by Outstanding Atlanta, 1994; RTNDA Murrow Award for “Atlanta’s Morning News’ 1990s; Outstanding Young Alumnus, University of Georgia; twice named Radio News Woman of the Year, American Women in Radio and Television.
Addresses: Office—c/o News/talk 750 WSB, 1601 West Peachtree St, Atlanta, GA 30309.
(AABJ) and the National Association of Black Journalists (NABJ), the oldest and largest organization for journalists of color—through her first mentor, Vic Carter, a colleague at WSB-TV, when she was still reporting for WSB-AM. Carter, the president of the AABJ at the time, first got Pressley involved in the AABJ and later in the NABJ which she joined in 1987.
During her first two years at WSB, Pressley took on a variety of positions in addition to her other jobs, including weekend and evening news anchor. In 1987 Pressley covered the Cuban uprising at the Atlanta Federal Prison. After her coverage of this story, she was promoted to the morning drive show on WSB and worked as a news producer and reporter. Pressley also became increasingly interested in the professional organizations that served minority journalists, which eventually led to a desire to make the move into broadcast journalism management. As a result, in 1988, she began working in WSB management as the news assignment editor. Her work in the AABJ continued as well, and in 1992 she was elected president of the AABJ.
By 1994 Pressley was working as the assistant news director at WSB. That same year, she was named one of the Ten Outstanding People in Atlanta by Outstanding Atlanta. As she moved up in broadcast management, her commitment to the NABJ also accelerated, and in 1995, she was elected regional director of the NABJ Region IV. Another honor for Pressley was being inducted into the National Association of Black Journalists Region IV Hall of Fame in 1998. This was especially important, since it was an honor awarded by Pressley’s peers. Four years later, Pressley was promoted to assistant program director in 1999, where she began to manage the day to day operations of WSB Radio. She also produced and hosted a weekly public affairs program, “Minority Perspective,” which aired on two of the five WSB radio stations and focused on issues of concern to the minority community. Also, in 1999, Pressley was elected vice-president of broadcast for the NABJ.
As she assumed still more important roles in radio broadcast management at WSB and in the NABJ, Pressley continued to be concerned about the number of minority journalists on television and radio, as well as the role of minority journalists. In September of 2000 Pressley weighed in on the movement by some television producers to diversify their coverage to include more minority reporting, thus giving greater voice to more diverse populations. In a report by Sharon O’Malley for the RTNDA website, Pressley stated that “Anything that we as broadcasters can do to educate and inform the listening and viewing public about the differences in our communities and how we are working to improve those relationships is a very good thing.” Although she was pleased to note that some efforts were being made by producers, Pressley was also looking for other possible ways to increase minority reporting.
Pressley knew that one way to increase diversity in programming and personnel was to recruit minority students into the field. During August of 2002 Pressley co-sponsored a booth at the NABJ Job Fair, with the intent to recruit minority candidates for WSB Radio. Then, in October of 2000, Pressley established an internship program to assist people in the Atlanta community in acquiring the skills that would be needed for a career in broadcasting. She gathered together representatives of every aspect of broadcasting, including programming, sales, engineering, and news and created a committee that would establish criteria for interns, as well as a brochure that would respond to student inquiries.
Pressley was elected president of the NABJ in August of 2001. At the time of her election to this post, Pressley said that she was “working to stabilize the organization’s finances, programs, and national office operations.” A report in the American Journalism Review by Kathryn S. Wenner, noted Pressley’s election as the organization’s fourth woman president and mentioned Pressley’s concerns about the declining numbers of African Americans in the nation’s newsrooms. Pressley noted that “In many cases we’ve figured out how to hire a diverse workforce,” but she also observed that “news managers need to be better skilled and trained at managing a diverse workforce,” if that minority work force is to succeed.
As president of the NABJ, Pressley’s biggest accomplishment was making sure that the organization completed projects and met deadlines as required—something it had sometimes failed to do in the past. To do this, she revamped many communication tools for the organization to ensure that members were up to date and aware of their responsibilities. She upgraded the organization’s website to make it easier to navigate, as well as ensuring that all information on the website was accurate. She also zoned the organization’s electronic newsletter so that all members received information pertinent to the region in which they lived and made e-mail communications more accurate.
There were many people in the NABJ who felt that these changes were monumental for the organization. In an report for the NABJ Monitor, Charles A. Penn spoke with NABJ secretary Gregory Lee, who praised Pressley’s work and stated that “Condace keeps the knowledge effective by making sure that everyone knows everything that they need to know to communicate efficiently.” Lee also called Pressley’s consistency an important strength, “one of many that help to make her leadership abilities so great.” Pressley was also applauded for her handling of the NABJ finances. When Pressley assumed the leadership position, the NABJ was in debt, but within the first year, the debt was erased. Although she accomplished many things in her presidency, Pressley’s tenure as NABJ has not been without some criticism. Penn reported in the NABJ Monitor about complaints that the NABJ was not visible enough under Pressley’s leadership and that she had not provided sufficient financial support for students.
Pressley’s tenure as president of the NABJ faced another challenge in early 2003. During late spring of that year, she once again focused on an important issue involving minority reporting when she became concerned with a case of plagiarism that involved Jayson Blair, a black reporter at the New York Times. In comments that were distributed by the PR Newswire, Pressley referred to Blair as “a self-destructive miscreant,” who had cost a Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist, Gerald Boyd, his job as managing editor at the paper. Pressley used the ensuing publicity as an opportunity to remind broadcasters of their obligation to present a diversified broadcasting voice. She stated that “There is no better time than now for The New York Times and other media companies to reaffirm publicly their commitment to the diversity of views and voices to those of us who work at our nation’s newspapers, magazines, new media and television and radio stations.” She also included readers, viewers, and listeners as among those who have an interest in the diversity of the various media outlets, as she once again proved her commitment to diversity in broadcasting.
Although, the NABJ continued to benefit from Press-ley’s hard work, she also contributed her expertise at other professional organizations. In January of 2003 she was appointed treasurer of UNITY: Journalists of Color, for whom Pressley will serve as treasurer for a two-year term. Also in 2003 she served on the board of directors for RTNDA as a regional director.
Pressley has been the recipient of several awards and honors. During her career at WSB Radio, Pressley has been honored by the Associated Press, and the Society for Professional Journalists. Along with her news team, she received an RTNDA Murrow Award for Atlanta’s Morning News program and was named Outstanding Young Alumnus by the University of Georgia. Pressley was also named Radio News Woman of the Year twice by the American Women in Radio and Television.
American Journalism Review, October 2001, p. 9.
Atlanta Journal-Constitution, June 7, 2001, p. 3JG.
PR Newswire, June 6, 2003.
“Changes at the Helm,” Netos Watch, http://newswatch.sfsu.edu/qu/112601pressley.html (May 22,2003).
“Condace Pressley Takes the Top Job at NABJ,” RTNDA, http://members.rtnda.org/diversity/condace.html (May 22, 2003).
“Contacts: Board of Directors,” Unity: Journalists of Color, www.unityjournalists.org/Contacts/Bios03.html (May 22, 2003).
“EEO Public File Report,” WSB Radio, http://wsbradio.coom/about_us/EEOreport3.html (June 27, 2003).
“My Mentor,” RTNDA, www.rtnda.org/trades/training.shtml (May 22, 2003).
“NABJ President Appointed Treasurer of UNITY: Journalists of Color,” NABJ, www.nabj.org/news013003.html (May 22, 2003).
“Newsroom Diversity,” RTNDA, www.rtnda.org/diversity/madnuacj.shtml (May 22, 2003).
“President Builds on NABJ’s Vision,” Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, www.jsonline.com/nabj/080102/condace.asp (May 22, 2003).
—Dr. Sheri Elaine Metzger
"Pressley, Condace L. 1964–." Contemporary Black Biography. . Encyclopedia.com. (August 20, 2018). http://www.encyclopedia.com/education/news-wires-white-papers-and-books/pressley-condace-l-1964
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