John Johnson (reporter)

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John Johnson
John Johnson
John Johnson (reporter).JPG
John Johnson (TV news correspondent/anchorman, author & artist) with one of his paintings
Born John Johnson
(1938-06-20) June 20, 1938 (age 78)
New York, NY USA
Residence New York, NY & Malibu, CA, United States
Nationality American
Education B.A., City College of New York; M.A., City College of New York; honorary doctorate, St. Thomas Aquinas College
Alma mater City College of New York
Occupation documentary filmmaker, television correspondent/anchorman, painter, author
Spouse(s) Ann Yih Johnson

John Johnson (born June 20, 1938) is an American television news anchorman/senior correspondent and documentary filmmaker. He had been a fixture in New York City television news for many years. Johnson joined ABC News in 1968, ultimately becoming the first African American documentary producer, director and writer at a broadcast network. He won distinction for his documentaries Welfare Game and Strangers in Their Own Land: The Puerto Ricans. He was one of the first African American filmmakers in the prestigious Directors Guild of America. Johnson then became a network correspondent and covered such stories as the Attica prison uprising.

In 1972, Johnson began a long run at WABC. In the late 1980s, he served as a rotating anchor of the 6 p.m. newscast in the aftermath of Roger Grimsby's firing with Kaity Tong and Bill Beutel. Johnson, who had also anchored the station's weekend newscasts and served as a reporter prior to this, eventually returned to reporting as senior correspondent after WABC made the decision to have Beutel anchor the 6 p.m. newscast by himself. During his years as senior correspondent, Johnson covered the release of Nelson Mandela from a South African prison and his presidential election. He reported from the first Persian Gulf war, the war in Bosnia and was one of the first reporters landing with American troops in Somalia. One of Johnson's last assignments at WABC was his reporting at the O.J. Simpson murder trial in 1994-95.

While the trial was still going on, Johnson left WABC in March 1995 and became co-anchor of WCBS' 5 p.m. and 11 p.m. newscasts in June of that same year. Johnson remained at the station until October 1996 when, along with several other notable personalities, he was fired. The timing of the firings was peculiar as Johnson and co-anchor Michele Marsh had offered a preview of the upcoming 11pm newscast at the end of the 6 pm news, with the firings occurring in the interim four and a half hours.[1]

Johnson was not out of work for long, as he and his WCBS co-anchor Michele Marsh were hired by WNBC to anchor the station's new noon newscast. After a year, however, Johnson left WNBC due to personal reasons and never returned to TV.

During his 30-year television news career, Johnson won nine Emmys and numerous other awards as a reporter, producer, writer and director.[2]

Johnson was to resurface again with the publication of his well-received autobiography Only Son: A Memoir (Warner Books) in 2002. A former associate professor of art at Lincoln University in Pennsylvania and at Indiana University before his broadcast career, Johnson then resumed his painting career. His paintings, which have been shown in Europe and the United States, have been featured at The Metropolitan Museum of Art and Walter Wickiser Gallery in Manhattan's art centers: SoHo and Chelsea.

Johnson has portrayed himself in such films as CopLand and 54 He was also featured in the award-winning documentary, Eyes on the Prize.

In 2016, Johnson's alma mater, the City College of New York, dedicated and opened The John Johnson Archive, a permanent collection of his documentaries, videotape, photos, war memorabilia, documents and personal possessions. The Archive celebrates Johnson's professional legacy and benefits students concentrating in the study of history, journalism, political science, social science and art. Johnson received the CCNY President's Award in 2015 and the Townsend Harris Medal for Outstanding Achievement in 2000 when he was also inducted into the Communications Hall of Fame.


  1. ^ Huff, Richard (1996-10-03). "Wcbs Sign-Off Network Cancels News Team Bigs". Retrieved 2011-02-02. 
  2. ^ THE EMMY NOMINATIONS; Complete List of Nominees, Los Angeles Times, Jul 19, 2002, retrieved May 26  Check date values in: |access-date= (help)


  1. "Celebrating the Birth of Eyewitness News" 11/10/08.
  2. Johnson, John; Coplon, Jeff (2002), Only son, Warner Books, ISBN 978-0-446-52552-7 
  3. "WNBC Anchor Quits to Nurse Dying Dad" 8/17/97.
  4. "Vying for New York Stories For Beguiling Announcers and Yes, for People's Trust". New York Times. 17 August 1997. 
  5. "Axed Newscasters Anchored by Family. Marsh and Johnson Gather Strength for New Jobs at Ch. 4" 10/22/96.
  6. "Anchor Away: John Johnson Jumping from Ch. 7. to Ch. 2" 3/17/95.
  7. "Former Journalist John Johnson's Art Collection, 'In the Spectrum', Opens in N.Y.C." Huffington Post 5/19/14.
  8. "Ex-newsman John Johnson's art portrays his life - as well as Angelina Jolie and Lady Gaga," New York Daily News 5/10/12.
  9. Allan Wolper talks with veteran New York newsman John Johnson, radio interview, 10/2/12.
  10. "Up Close with Diana Williams" interview with John Johnson, WABC-TV Ch. 7, 5/11/14.
  11. "Emmy Award Winner John Johnson, ’61, ’63MA, Gifts Papers to CCNY," City College of NY press release, 3/16/15.