Gwen Ifill 1955-2016 R.I.P.

Written by  //  November 14, 2016  //  Absent Friends  //  No comments

We feel we have lost a wise and dear friend. She and Judy joined us at the dinner table almost every evening for many years.
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Remembering Gwen
(PBS Newshour) Gwen Ifill, a journalist to her core, who served as the PBS NewsHour’s co-anchor and managing editor and, in her own words, sought to always “tell the stories that shed light and spur action,” has died from complications of cancer. She was 61.
Gwen covered eight presidential campaigns, moderated two vice-presidential debates and served for 17 years on the NewsHour and as moderator and managing editor of “Washington Week.” In her early career, she covered politics and city hall for some of the country’s most prominent newspapers, including the New York Times, the Washington Post and the Baltimore Evening Sun, carving a path as one of the most accomplished journalists in U.S. media. She won countless awards, including the George Foster Peabody Award and the National Press Club’s Fourth Estate Award, and was the best-selling author of “The Breakthrough: Politics and Race in the Age of Obama.”
Gwen’s death has left her colleagues devastated.
“She was a standard bearer for courage, fairness and integrity in an industry going through seismic change,” said the NewsHour’s executive producer, Sara Just. “She was a mentor to so many across the industry — a journalist’s journalist who set an example for all around her.”
And from her co-anchor, Judy Woodruff: “She was not only my dear friend, she was the best partner one can imagine, because she was committed to fairness and to the finest in journalism. You always knew when working with Gwen that she had your back. I’m crushed that she won’t be sitting by my side on the NewsHour any more, but her mark on this program and on American journalism will endure.”
Gwen’s leadership guided the NewsHour through multiple transitions, difficult stories and a constantly changing media landscape. But no matter how much the media changed, Gwen remained staunchly committed to her core values.
“In the early days, they joked that we dared to be boring,” Gwen said of the NewsHour in a recent Reddit Ask me Anything chat. “I think now it’s more that we dare to be engaging. And we think enough of the viewers and consumers who come to us for in-depth, fair coverage to make sure we provide cogent, smart analysis. We do it every day, go to sleep, and get up to do it again.”

Full Program: PBS NewsHour full episode Nov. 14, 2016
Monday on the NewsHour, we devote our show to Gwen Ifill, who died Monday after a battle with cancer.
What Gwen Ifill meant to us
The news of Gwen Ifill’s death has left a void in the world of journalism and politics. Judy Woodruff and Hari Sreenivasan speak with a few of her friends and colleagues about her legacy and what made her so beloved.
JUDY WOODRUFF: We’re joined now by some who knew Gwen well, Charlayne Hunter-Gault, a colleague and friend of Gwen’s and a longtime member of our “NewsHour” family, John Dickerson of CBS News, also a regular panelist and occasional host for “Washington Week,” Kevin Merida, a longtime colleague and now with the Web site ESPN’s Undefeated, and Amy Walter, also of our “NewsHour” and “Washington Week” families. She’s with The Cook Political Report.

Fellow journalists, political leaders and viewers offer tributes to Gwen
Throughout the day, journalists, politicians and NewsHour viewers offered their condolences and tributes on Twitter. We collected many of them below.
U.S. journalist and PBS anchor Gwen Ifill dies at 61
(Reuters) Ifill was moderator and managing editor of “Washington Week,” a prime-time news program, and co-anchor and managing editor for “The PBS NewsHour” with Judy Woodruff.
Ifill joined the programs in 1999 from NBC News, where she was chief congressional and political correspondent, according to a biography on the “NewsHour” website.
She also had been White House correspondent for the New York Times and a reporter for the Washington Post, Baltimore Evening Sun and the Boston Herald American.
On the “NewsHour website, Ifill said that “public broadcasting provides the best of both worlds – combining the depth of newspapering with the immediate impact of broadcast television.”
Ifill was the best-selling author of 2009’s “The Breakthrough: Politics and Race in the Age of Obama” and moderated the vice presidential debates during the 2004 and 2008 national elections.
She covered seven presidential campaigns and won the George Foster Peabody Award in 2008 for bringing “Washington Week” to live audiences around the country.

Politicians, Left and Right, Mourn Gwen Ifill
Politicians on both sides of the aisle publicly mourned the passing of legendary reporter Gwen Ifill on Monday at the age of 61. The long-time PBS broadcaster was reportedly diagnosed with endometrial cancer just last year and remained private about her health struggles up until her death. “I’m saddened to learn of the passing of @gwenifill,” former Republican primary candidate Ben Carson wrote on Twitter. “She was an amazing journalist and will be truly missed.” House Speaker Paul Ryan added that she was “an incredibly talented and respected journalist.” Republican Sen. Tim Scott, the first African-American senator elected from South Carolina, tweeted: “Always enjoyed talking with her, as well as the times I joined @NewsHour.” Donald Trump’s campaign manager Kellyanne Conway tweeted: “This is shocking and incredibly sad. Condolences to her family. God bless your soul, Gwen.” On the other side of the proverbial aisle, Democratic Sen. Tammy Baldwin wrote that Ifill was “a trailblazer who elevated our national conversations and debates,” and her colleague Tom Udall added that she “was one of the best in the business. Her thoughtful contributions to public discourse will be remembered. We need more like her.” President Obama also began his Monday press conference by expressing condolences for Ifill’s family and colleagues.

Gwen Ifill dead at age 61
(Politico) “I am very sad to tell you that our dear friend and beloved colleague Gwen Ifill passed away today in hospice care in Washington,” WETA President and CEO Sharon Percy Rockefeller wrote in an email to staff at the public TV station Monday. “I spent an hour with her this morning and she was resting comfortably, surrounded by loving family and friends … Earlier today, I conveyed to Gwen the devoted love and affection of all of us at WETA/NewsHour. Let us hold Gwen and her family even closer now in our hearts and prayers.”
Ifill had been absent from PBS’s election coverage last week because of ongoing health issues. She also took a leave of absence in May to address those issues.
On Wednesday, Ifill was to receive the 2016 John Chancellor Award from Columbia University. A spokesperson for the university did not immediately have a comment.
Ifill, who was born in New York City, graduated from Simmons College, a women’s college located in Boston, in 1977, before beginning her career at the Boston Herald-American. She held reporting positions at the Baltimore Evening Sun, The Washington Post, The New York Times and NBC before becoming a moderator of PBS’s “Washington Week in Review” in 1999.
Ifill’s first book, “The Breakthrough: Politics and Race in the Age of Obama,” was released on the day of President Barack Obama’s first inauguration. One of the most visible African-American female broadcast journalists, she received more than 20 honorary doctorates, had been honored by the Peabody Awards, the Radio and Television News Directors Association, Harvard’s Joan Shorenstein Center and the National Association of Black Journalists among others. She also served on the boards of the News Literacy Project, the Committee to Protect Journalists, and was a fellow with the American Academy of Sciences.
Ifill served on the board of the Harvard Institute of Politics and the University of Maryland’s Philip Merrill College of Journalism. She was also a board member of the Committee to Protect Journalists and the Museum of Television and Radio.
“She was a newspaper reporter through and through,” said an emotional NBC News correspondent Pete Williams as he reported on Ifill’s death on MSNBC. “She had so many rewards and awards in her office you could barely see out the window. She was one of the most successful women in journalism.”
“Gwen was a friend of ours,” President Obama said at a Monday afternoon news conference. “She was an extraordinary journalist. She always kept faith with the fundamental responsibilities of her profession, asking tough questions, holding people in power accountable and defending a strong and free press that makes our democracy work. I always appreciated Gwen’s reporting, even when I was at the receiving end of one of her tough and thorough interviews. Whether she reported from a convention floor or from the field, whether she sat at the debate moderator’s table or at the anchor’s deck, she not only informed today’s citizens but she also inspired tomorrow’s journalists. She was an especially powerful role model for young women and girls who admired her integrity, tenacity and intellect and for whom she blazed a trail as one-half of the first all-female anchor team on network news. Gwen did her country a great service. Michelle and I join her family and her colleagues and everybody else who loved her in remembering her fondly today.”

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