AJC’s first Black top editor on purpose-driven work, state of journalism and his top goals

Leroy Chapman Jr. was recently named the editor-in-chief of The Atlanta Journal-Constitution. (Photo courtesy of Atlanta Journal-Constitution)

Purpose-driven journalism has remained at the center of Leroy Chapman’s work.

Chapman, who has spent nearly the last three decades of his career telling stories, spearheading teams and navigating the evolving, fast-paced world of journalism, was recently named the editor-in-chief of The Atlanta Journal-Constitution (AJC). He is the first Black person to lead the newspaper in its 155 years of circulation.

On Monday’s edition of “Closer Look,” the veteran writer, who first served in the U.S. Navy before becoming a journalist, reflected on his first writing assignment, which profiled a hairstylist who volunteered on her off days to style little girls’ hair who were in protective custody. Chapman says that story was the foundation for him to pursue stories of purpose.

“ I got to tell that story,” said Chapman. “It felt like a privilege. It didn’t feel like work. It felt like I was doing something that was really important … so I really knew that’s what I wanted to do after the first story I wrote.”

During the conversation, Chapman talked with show host Rose Scott about his leadership style, the AJC’s commitment to its readers and his top five priorities for the newspaper.

“Every community needs a trustworthy source of information,” said Chapman.

He further explained that although consumer habits will likely continue to change, good journalism will endure.

“We have to be a moment-to-moment news organization, so we can’t spend all day gathering news and then at night building a printing product that’s delivered in the morning,” said Chapman.

“We have to be in the breaking news business and we’ve worked hard to do that.”